Toyota Supra Review
The Toyota Supra has a strong heritage and in its latest form is great fun to drive and well equipped. If you want the fastest lap times, though, there are better alternatives.
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The Toyota Supra is a bit like Angela Merkel slipping into a kimono with the help of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Confused? To explain, this fifth-generation model is designed in Japan, but underneath has lots of parts from BMW’s Z4. Oh, and it’s also built in Austria.
It might be a Z4 underneath, but it’s more likely you’ll also be in the market for solid-roofed sports cars such as the Porsche 718 Cayman, Audi TT and Alpine A110. The Supra saw these cars off in the 2019 carwow awards, though, taking home the Driver’s Award.
The Toyota Supra has a long heritage which is reflected in its design – its long bonnet, two seats and double-bubble roof are reminiscent of its 2000GT from the late 1960s. Then there’s that spoiler flick at the back which harks back to the famous fourth-generation Supra of the 1990s.
Inside, Toyota says it has taken inspiration from single-seat race cars, but we’re not so convinced. For starters, there are two seats, and at no point do you feel like Lewis Hamilton in his F1 car. However, the driver-focused cabin with its tightly grouped controls does make it feel like a proper sports car.
And, because Toyota has borrowed lots of the Supra’s innards from BMW, everything looks and feels high-quality too. The switches and air vents are sturdy and there are soft-touch plastics in abundance, while the Supra also gets BMW’s fantastic iDrive infotainment system – even if it is a last-generation version.
Even so, built-in sat-nav comes as standard as well as DAB radio, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay for mirroring your Apple smartphone. There’s no Android Auto for Android users, though, and this infotainment system’s logical menus and easy-to-programme sat-nav means you won’t be yearning to mirror your phone like you do in some alternatives.
There’s more than a whiff of BMW about the place, but to be honest, who wouldn’t want BMW’s engines and infotainment?
The Supra’s cabin is spacious for two people, while its standard sports seats are supportive and the driver is treated to loads of seat and steering wheel adjustment – although even in its lowest setting some might feel that the driving position is a little higher than they’d like. At 290 litres the Supra’s boot isn’t huge and has an awkwardly narrow opening, but you can extend it a little further but removing a panel at the back.
The Toyota Supra comes with just one engine choice, BMW’s 3.0-litre, six-cylinder turbocharged petrol which produces 340hp. Rear-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox come as standard helping it get from 0-60mph in 4.2 seconds, although you’ll also enjoy the way it pulls hard from low revs for sprinting down motorway slip roads and overtaking.
In fact, on country roads, the Supra is easily fast enough to excite, and putting it in its Sport driving mode adds more weight to the steering, livens up the accelerator and gearbox and opens a flap in its exhaust for more pops and bangs. It grips hard and controls its body well through tight bends, but if getting the quickest lap time is most important to you, then a Porsche Cayman will be quicker still.
Yet, switching back to Normal driving mode in town reveals the Supra to be the slightly more comfortable choice over lumps and bumps. It’s easy to see out of too, and its light but precise steering and decent turning circle make it easy to park – its standard front and rear sensors and rear camera help here too. It’s also decently comfy and quiet on the motorway.
So, the Supra won’t satisfy those after the ultimate track day car, but its superb engine makes it big fun to drive nevertheless. It’s also very well equipped and comes with Toyota’s generous five-year warranty. The biggest problem? The first 300 have sold out and you’ll have to join a long waiting list for the next batch.
Being a strict two-seater means the Toyota Supra musters up plenty of room inside for adults in addition to a reasonably big boot. It’d be nice if the seats could be adjusted a little lower, however.
The Toyota Supra doesn’t have the biggest boot around, but if you’ll be using it for regular track days you’ll be pleased to hear there’s space for two spare tyres.
The Supra is very slightly longer than the Toyota GT86 sports car but – unlike its smaller sibling – it doesn’t come with any child-sized back seats.
The front seats come with electric adjustment as standard and you can tweak the height and position of the steering wheel to find a comfortable driving position. Very tall drivers might struggle for headroom, however, and even if you aren’t particularly lofty, you might wish the Toyota Supra’s seats were mounted a little closer to the floor to make it feel even sportier to sit in.
The Supra’s sloping roofline and low-slung body can make it slightly tricky to climb in and out of if your movement is restricted. But at least the seats are supportive, so you shouldn’t be troubled by backache on long drives.
If you’ll be carrying much younger passengers, you’ll be pleased to hear the Toyota Supra comes with Isofix fittings on the front passenger seat. Sure, it isn’t particularly easy to lift a child seat in under the low roof, but it’s certainly less hassle than trying to anchor it in the back of an Audi TTRS.
The Toyota Supra doesn’t come with a great number of handy storage spaces. The cupholders in the centre console aren’t all that generous, the glovebox is very small and the door bins are absolutely tiny.
You only get one USB charging port for your phone, which means you can’t use Apple CarPlay and charge your passenger’s phone at the same time unless you also pay extra for Pro model with a wireless charging pad in the centre console.
The Toyota Supra has 290 litres of boot space – about the same as a Ford Fiesta hatchback and not bad at all for a low-slung sports car. You’ll be able to carry more in the Supra than in the Toyota GT86 and BMW Z4, but the Audi TT RS coupe and Porsche 718 Cayman are slightly roomier still.
There’s a pretty sizeable boot lip, which makes it a bit tricky to load very heavy items, but the Toyota Supra’s long load bay has enough space to carry a few suitcases or even a pair of spare tyres.
You can remove the load cover to carry taller items, but it’s a real pain to re-fit it and there isn’t anywhere convenient to store it. If you need to carry smaller items, there are a few tether points and an elasticated strap. There’s also a 12V socket if you need to plug in a tyre inflator.
The Toyota Supra is a seriously fun sports car that’s still comfortable enough to live with on the commute. Some more hardcore alternatives are faster around a race track, however.
The Toyota Supra manages to avoid the dreaded jack-of-all-trades label by being great fun to drive yet still relaxing enough to use for long motorway journeys.
The Toyota Supra comes with just one engine and gearbox – a three-litre straight-six turbocharged petrol engine that drives the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
This engine is the same as you’ll find in the BMW Z4 M40i and produces the same 340hp. The basic eight-speed automatic gearbox is also the same but, despite this, the slightly lighter Toyota Supra will accelerate faster than the Z4 – it’ll sprint from 0-60mph in less than 4.3 seconds compared to the BMW’s 4.5-second time.
The figures are reversed when you look at fuel economy, however – the Toyota Supra will return a claimed 34mpg while the BMW Z4 manages to eke out another four miles for every gallon.
Some keen drivers might bemoan the fact this Supra only comes with an automatic gearbox, but it’s one of the best in the business. Put your foot down to overtake slow-moving traffic and it’ll quickly change down without you needing to pull the paddles on the steering wheel.
Stick it in manual mode, and it’ll respond just as quickly to your inputs as the double-clutch automatic ‘boxes in the Audi TT RS and Porsche 718 Cayman. Stick it in the sportiest driving mode and it even gives you a distinct shove in the back with each upshift – unlike the BMW Z4’s smooth but somewhat characterless gearchanges.
You have to turn the steering wheel a little more for each corner in the Toyota Supra than in the likes of the Porsche 718 Cayman, but this helps it feel a little less skittish and more surefooted at speed. It’s a similar story with the adaptive suspension, which lets the Supra’s body lean a little more than some sports cars – even in its firmest Sports setting.
That being said, the Toyota Supra never feels like it’s out of its depth on a twisty country road – despite not having four-wheel drive like the Audi TT RS. This is partly thanks to the active differential you get as standard which helps the Toyota Supra accelerate quickly out of tight corners in slippery conditions by making sure the engine’s power is sent to both rear wheels, equally.
The Toyota Supra’s brakes are another highlight – they help it stop quickly and in a controlled manner from very high speeds on a race track without any untoward twitching. They’re very smooth and progressive around town, too, unlike the unpleasant, grabby brakes you get in some sports cars.
Speaking of driving in town, you’ll find the Toyota Supra deals with bumps pretty well – especially with its suspension in its softest setting. And the steering’s pretty light at slow speeds, which helps when manoeuvring into tight parking spaces. That being said, you don’t get a particularly good view out of the Toyota Supra’s cabin, so you’ll find yourself relying heavily on the parking sensors to avoid bumps and scrapes.
You also get plenty of clever tech to help make long journeys pretty stress-free, including adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, road-sign recognition and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Add in the Toyota Supra’s quiet cabin, which muffles unpleasant wind and tyre noise pretty well for a sports car, and you’ve got a comfortable two-seater that’ll lap up long journeys with ease.
The Toyota Supra’s interior feels distinctly BMW rather than Toyota. But, it’s a shame leather seats are reserved for high-spec Pro cars.