2021 Toyota GR Supra: Striking and serious sports car
The 2021 Toyota GR Supra is a cause for celebration — a genuine high-performance sports car in a time of diminishing expectations.
The Supra is one of those names that has graced so many different cars, you have to know which model years you're talking about. It started as a more upscale version of the Celica in 1978, became even more refined in 1983, was spun off as a separate grad tourer in 1986, then was reborn as a serious sports car in 1993.
After a two-decade absence from the American market, the Supra returned last year as an even more serious sports car — smaller but more powerful with a stiffer suspension and styling that evokes the Batmobile from Tim Burton's original "Batman" without the fins. But beneath the striking skin, much of the new Supra is BMW. It was codeveloped with the German manufacture and is produced on the same assembly line as the current Z4.
The 2021 Supra comes in two flavors. The base version now features a new turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four that produces horsepower. The original twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0 liter inline six now pumps out 355 horsepower, a 14 percent increase over the first version. The chassis and suspension have also been retuned for better handling.
In a week of test driving, I found the GR Supra to be more German than Japanese. That is to say, it was incredibly fast but very firm, even in the default mode. That's not a criticism. It is a genuine sports car that even eschews the minuscule rear seats of the fourth generation model. But Toyota fans need to understand that the GR Supra offers an entirely different level of performance than any previous Supra or other current Toyota model, including the Camry TRD, despite its suspension and exhaust upgrades.
And there are some tradeoffs. The new Supra is very low, which means it is a little hard to get in and out of. It's also cramped inside, with the dual bubble roof providing minimal headroom. Rear visibility is also limited by the small window in the hatch. The dash is also surprisingly restrained, considering the wild exterior styling. The simple styling looks more like a Mazda than the last version of the Supra, which features a dash that wrapped around the driver. But there really isn't enough room for anything that extrudes into the cabin.
A new Safety and Technology Package is available on both versions. It includes: Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Parking Sensors with Emergency Braking Function, Navigation, 12-speaker 500-watt JBL Audio System, Wireless Apple CarPlay compatible. and a range of Supra Connected Services. If that's not enough, a Driver's Assist Package is still an available option on the 3.0 Premium.
The new 2.0-liter version started at $43,090, an $8,000 reduction from the cheapest version of last year's 3.0-liter model.
Two special editions of the GR Supra are also available. They include an A91 Edition with special trim and a racetrack ready GT4 with 430 horsepower, a built-in roll cage and other performance features.
If all of this sounds a little too serious for you, Toyota offers another coproduced sports car, the 86 which was developed with Subaru. It is less powerful, being offered with the Japanese manufacturer's Boxer four producing 228 horsepower. It is also small, although offering a little more interior room, and is more designed for good handling than straight line acceleration, like the simple European sports cars of the 1960s and 1970s. But it starts are just around $27,000, which bargain.
With manufacturers shifting production to SUVs and electric vehicles, it's refreshing to find the 2021 Toyota GR Supra is a true successor to the original models — especially the fourth generation — that rewards enthusiastic driving. If that's something you enjoy, schedule a test drive as soon as you can.
2021 Toyota GR Supra
Base price: $43,090 (base 2,0)
Price as tested: $58,255 (Premium)
Type: Sports car
Engines: Turbocharged 2.0-liter four (255 hp, 295 lbs-ft), twin turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six (382 hp, 368 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic with manual shift mode and paddle shifters
EPA estimated mileage: 22/30
Overall length: 172.5 inches
Curb weight: 3,181 - 3,400 pounds
Final assembly: Graz, Austria
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