Power for the car comes from a BMW-sourced 3.0-litre turbo straight six of 335bhp and 369lb ft. And since such an inline engine was considered by all alike a vital component of any Supra replacement, that it’s BMW with the most experience in making such engines, and that it’s also unlikely that even Toyota would have funded a sports car project like this all on its own – you might say the Supra that we’ve got is really the only one that the modern motor industry was ever likely to give us.
What is the GR Supra like to drive?
On UK roads and in right-hand drive form, it’d be a particularly joyless driver who wouldn’t savour a cross-country blast in this car. It’s true enough that you can have more fun at the wheel in one of the smaller, leaner, mid-engined options available for Supra money but, for reasons we’ll come to, not everybody wants one of those. If you can stomach this car’s price – given you can have either an Alpine A110 or a Porsche 718 Cayman S (or even a BMW M2 Competition with quite a lot more power) for about the same amount, that’s a sizeable ‘if’ – there’s a very good chance you’ll like it a lot.
The new ‘GR’ Supra’s performance certainly doesn’t leave much to chance. Handling may not be as nimble or delicately involving as in an Alpine A110, but the Supra’s BMW-sourced straight-six would make short work of the little guy on outright acceleration. It’s a smooth, torquey, responsive and free-revving engine, just as it is in any ‘M40i’-badged BMW; and while you might prefer a bit more genuine combustion noise from it in sport mode, and a bit less digital engine noise manipulation, it’s very hard to pull up on any other front.
The Supra might even be faster than Toyota claims. The specification sheet pegs top speed at an electronically limited 155mph. On a proving ground runway, though, it got to an indicated 160mph pretty swiftly – and was ready for more.
On the move, you can rest assured that the Supra doesn’t feel like some BMW Z4 clone. It has a motive character all of its own – one which begins to come together as you feel how quick the car is, how quickly but coherently it steers, and that it can really tighten up its body control, rotate underneath you, and give you plenty of throttle-adjustability of cornering attitude when you firm up those adaptive dampers, dial up the active differential settings and retire the stability control.
The car’s not as small, light or agile as the best mid-engined handlers in the class, and doesn’t have inertia-dodging responses or effortless body control associated. The more indulgent, benign and predictable transition into power-on oversteer that you tend to get from a front-engined sports car with a lightly-loaded driven rear axle isn’t a bad consolation prize, though – particularly if you’re the kind of driver who’s always preferred classic front-engined sports cars to other types for that reason among others.
Steering feel isn’t absent; in fact, it’s decent enough, coming with useful weight and self-centring – but more wouldn’t hurt. Neither would an extra pedal and a really engaging manual gearbox, for that last level of driver engagement. Though quicker in sport mode, the car’s eight-speed auto is a little bit slow-witted when responding to a flicked paddle, and always prefers a smooth shift to a really solid, positive, urgent-feeling one.
Otherwise, the performance level, handling precision and driver engagement of this car are all very good – while the suspension lets you choose between a really nicely compliant ride gait just for schlepping around, and a much tauter and quite closely controlled one that gives the car a clear sense of muscular purpose and composure when you want it.