New take on an old name.Toyota has done many things right in the past few decades, but one thing it got continuously dinged on was performance – namely, the lack of it anywhere in its lineup. Critics derided Toyota offerings as being too beige for years, to the point the brand no longer even offers the once-popular color.
Toyota's latest step in moving past that reputation is the Supra. New for last year, the Supra revives an iconic name in the guise of a tidily-sized two-door, two-seat coupe that was co-developed with BMW. It rides on the same underpinnings of the also-new BMW Z4. It's a bit of a departure from the last Supra, which thundered through the 1990s as a larger, four-seat grand tourer that was an entirely in-house design.
But times have changed, and the 2021 Toyota Supra, though not quite in line with its famous predecessor, follows the same philosophy of fast, capable, comfortable. Don't expect it to be as raucous as a Ford Shelby Mustang, as luxurious as a Jaguar F-Type, or as potent as a Chevrolet Corvette; the Supra's specialty is taking choice bits of all those sports cars and blending them into one cohesive package. It does this admirably well in all its guises.
Fast and smooth. Last year, the Supra was exclusively offered with a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that hails from the BMW forgeries in Germany. This year, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder – also from Germany – joins the lineup.
It's less power by a good bit when compared to the potent six, but the new turbo-four is a satisfying engine that pairs well with the lightweight Supra. Its 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque still take the Supra to 60 mph in just five seconds. An eight-speed automatic routes power to the rear wheels with the same smoothness and crispness it provides in the six-cylinder models.
Beyond that, the new engine keeps the overall curb weight of the Supra about 300 pounds lower than a comparable six-cylinder model, which translates to better handling on an already lithe car. It lacks the soundtrack of the six, and isn't paired to the fancier suspension bits like an electronic limited-slip differential or adaptive dampers, but it's fast and balanced. It's a great option for those who don't have the coin to buy a six-cylinder model.
For those who can swing the six, it's a tempting, sonorous piece of work. This year, power is bumped up to 382 hp and 368 lb-ft of torque. It's enough firepower to scoot the Supra to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds, putting it in the same rare air as some serious – and seriously expensive – sports cars. Top speed is 155 mph.
Some suspension tweaks have also been made this year, including revised damper tuning and a reinforced front end. The result is a more dialed-in Supra that shouldn't fidget at the limit the way the 2020 had a tendency to do.
Get the Supra out on the road and its clear that, despite its tiny size and big engine, this is a highly controllable and buttoned-down sports car. It has great grip and is highly predictable in the corners, especially the four-cylinder model.
Harmonious is the word that comes to mind when thinking about how the suspension, engine, brakes, and steering all work together to deliver a true sports car experience.
German-flavored interior. The Toyota Supra is as much a sports car on the inside as it is on the outside. There's two highly bolstered seats, little luggage space, and no signs of Toyota putting luxury over performance.
About those seats: the bolstering is snug, and there's eight-way power adjustment on the base models or 14-way adjustment on the pricier trims. Leg room is a bit lacking, and the wide transmission tunnel doesn't help matters. That, along with the big pillars and two-seat design, work to make a snug cabin feel even more so.
The cabin design is far more BMW than Toyota. The dash has strong horizontal themes like the latest BMW lineup, the climate controls looks pulled from the latest 3-Series, and the gauge cluster also gives off Germanic vibes. Though it feels a bit incongruous with the Toyota emblem on the steering wheel, the interior sends the right message to enthusiasts.
Cargo space doesn't impress, but it isn't as laughable as some sports cars. The hatchback design allows for 10.2 cubic feet of usable cargo space, but it's better suited to soft luggage than suitcases. For a weekend getaway, though, there's often plenty of room to work with.
Features and quibbles. The Supra is well equipped and a competitive package right off the bat, but there's still a few details that we take issue with. The most significant of these is the infotainment system, which comes from the BMW parts bin.
It's been sized up to 8.8 inches for 2021, but it's still a clumsy setup to work with. Most models come standard with Apple CarPlay, though base models charge extra for the convenience. We'd recommend using it to avoid the native BMW iDrive software.
Oh, and if you have an Android, you'll unfortunately be out of luck. Android Auto is still MIA over at BMW, which means the Supra doesn't offer it either. No word on if that's coming down the pipeline anytime soon.
The list of standard and available safety equipment gives us no such qualms. Base cars come with automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assist, while blind-spot monitoring, parking sensors, and adaptive cruise control are all available across every trim. Interestingly, though, not even the top-trim models come standard with these features.
Fuel economy, while yet to be released for the four-cylinder Supra, is decent enough for six-cylinder models. Expect 22 miles per gallon city, 30 mpg highway, and 25 combined, according to the EPA. The four-cylinder models will almost certainly be more efficient.
Final thoughts. There's no such thing as too many sports cars to choose from, and the 2021 Toyota Supra provides shoppers with yet another excellent option that won't break the bank.
With the new four-cylinder models, prices for 2021 models start just under $44,000 – an MSRP that's more in line with a V8 Mustang than anything more exotic. This despite the fact that material quality, switchgear, and running gear all trace back to the pricey BMW storehouses.
With the ample power, excellent grip, and great dynamics, the Supra is a tempting package even in base form. Sports car lovers should be putting it on their short list, even if the BMW influence is bit too obvious for our tastes.
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