2020 Toyota Supra Drive Review: Back Again, In a Big Way
New Supra is packing potent BMW power and typical Toyota ingenuity.
After two decades, it’s back. The Toyota Supra has returned. However, this revival takes a familiar concept and turns in a different direction with it.
It still has a turbocharged inline-six cylinder engine, and rear-wheel drive, but that engine comes from BMW. There is currently one transmission option, an 8-speed automatic, also sourced from the BMW parts bin. The brakes and suspension, too, come from BMW, as does the majority of the tech, interior or otherwise. Oh, and now, instead of being a “2+2” with two small rear seats, this new Supra is just a two-seater, like the BMW Z4 convertible with which the Supra shares its underpinnings.
This co-development with BMW is very much the same as Toyota’s co-development of the 86 sports car with Subaru. A necessary evil, Toyota says, due to the exorbitant cost of producing a low-volume $50,000 sports car. Without this joint venture, the Supra would have never happened, period.
However, this does create a philosophical issue that triggers thousands of internet experts to weigh in as to whether or not this new Supra is really a Supra, at all, or something else. These same people, of course, have not even sat in the new Supra, let alone drive it. But I have. I have driven the Supra on the road, at low speeds, on the track, on the edge of adhesion, and even gone beyond the edge of adhesion. Yes, I did burnouts, and a bit of drifting in the new Supra. So here’s what you need to know.
Driving the Supra
On the road, Supra is a firm, but comfortable sports car. The 19-inch wheels have some amount of sidewall on them, which helps offset the broken bumpy pavement that exists in the real world. Though, the real hero in the ride comfort department is the adaptive suspension system, which offers several distinct modes, that allow drivers to toggle between on-road comfort and on-track agility.
The interior is usable for people of all sizes, provided you’re no taller than about 6’4″. Usability is further enhanced by the available tech and goodies packed within, key among which is the infotainment system. It’s BMW’s iDrive 6 system, with a Supra skin, and it’s smooth, intuitive and easy to navigate. Features like Apple CarPlay are standard fair, thankfully. Though, my personal favorite piece of tech is definitely the wireless charging system, which means you can charge your phone without cluttering the cabin with an array of cables and chargers.
Toyota is adamant that the Supra is every bit as capable on track as it is on the open road. Fortunately, Toyota rented out Summit Point’s Shenandoah Circuit and allowed unlimited track time with the Supra to prove it.
Before I jump into the Supra’s track day performance, I need to qualify two things. The first is that doing track days, and going drifting are my hobbies, and something I consider myself more than adequate at doing. I can and will push cars very hard on the race track, without hesitation. Second, following that statement, is that I am known for killing brakes on track. My friends made me custom stickers for my track car that I put on the windshield and rear glass that say “No Brake Jake.” It’s a warning to others and a reminder to myself.
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With that said, the Supra is amazing on track. Despite weighing 3,300 pounds, the Supra’s brakes didn’t fatigue much, lap after lap after lap. For the track day warriors out there, the basic brake pad and fluid upgrade will be all that’s required for Supra to dominate your local circuit. Supra’s adaptive dampers pay dividends on track, as well, offering predictable, consistent and agile handling. If the Supra oversteered, it was my fault. If the car understeered, it was my fault. The Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, sized 255 up front and 275 out back, also didn’t take too much of a beating throughout the day, a somewhat uncommon site on a showroom stock car.
Similarly, the Supra’s B58 engine didn’t fatigue from repeated lapping, offering all of its 335 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, all of the time. Though, to be candid, I wish the 8-speed automatic was sharper on the downshifts. A 6-speed manual would solve that issue, no problem. Toyota claims Supra will do the 0-60 sprint in 3.9 seconds, and it feels every bit that fast. It’s clear that they are underrating the engine, which likely makes close to 400 horsepower.
But is it a Supra?
Toyota calls it a Supra, and the badge on the back says the same thing. This is a Supra. This is the Supra, the new Supra for a new era. Throw the philosophical arguments in the garbage, where they belong.
This is a $50,000 car that looks like it came from the future, is a great grand-tourer on the road, gets over 30 MPG, and kicks ass on the race track. It also sounds bad ass. Now, Toyota, give us a manual transmission.
Video/Images by Jake Stumph