Vehicle: 2021 Toyota Supra GR 3.0 Review
MSRP as tested: $67,690 CAD
Specs: 3.0L Turbocharged Inline 6 (382 hp, 368 lb.-ft. torque)
0-100kmh as tested: 3.9 seconds
A mere year after its long awaited comeback, Toyota has already updated the iconic Supra with some under-the-hood tweaks, bumping up power by nearly 50 horses and giving it some even sharper handling. Living up to the legendary Supra nameplate is no easy feat, and while enthusiasts might say that this new BMW-derived iteration still can’t quite fully capture the charm of past iterations, there’s no denying this 5th generation Supra is one of the most smile-inducing and well-balanced sports cars in its class (and a surprisingly good bargain), made even better by this year's updates. As an added bonus, you’ll be getting compliments and thumbs up from strangers everywhere you go, because who doesn’t love a Supra?
With nearly perfectly balanced handling combined with a playful attitude, it’s hard to find fault with the Supra when evaluating it as a driver’s car. Last year’s model already darted around corners as enthusiastically as you could hope for, but somehow Toyota have made the Supra feel even tighter and more responsive, courtesy of improved weightier steering feel, increased body rigidity, and tweaked traction programming. Around corners the Supra bites into the pavement with immense grip, but also let you have fun with a bit of very controllable sideways action with a simple push of a button.
The benefits of the improved chassis are apparent behind the wheel, but how do the improved power figures feel on the road? Frankly, it isn’t all that noticeable during everyday driving. While horsepower has gone up a full 47 horses, torque figures get a modest 3 lb.-ft. gain meaning the extra grunt really only can be felt in the upper RPMs when you’re pushing the car hard. And besides, we suspect Toyota had been sandbagging last year’s power figures anyway, considering it could take down its more powerful Z4 sibling on a drag strip.
Figures aside, the important thing is that the Supra FEELS like it has the perfect amount of power you’d need to have fun without getting into too much trouble. BMW’s turbo inline-6 is one hell of a performer, providing instantaneous thrust anywhere in the power band, silky smooth power delivery, and an awesome exhaust note complete with crackles and pops. Stomping on the gas and revving it out to its 6500 RPM redline is immense fun, with 0-100 coming in at just under 4 seconds during our testing.
One other note, this sports car is not for the shy. Though it's far from being the flashiest, loudest, or even the most prestigious car under the $70K mark, this thing attracts a LOT of attention anyway (from enthusiasts in particular) simply because of its name plate. Be prepared to see a lot of phone cameras and thumbs ups, as well as dealing with the occasional question or BMW joke at the gas pump (because those never seem to get old).
Speaking of BMW, yes the Supra is more German than Japanese on the inside, but that’s not a bad thing considering those folks at Munich have been killing it in the interior department as of late. I’ll admit that the first time I got inside the cabin the BMW greeting chime made me laugh, but honestly the shared parts and materials really help it to feel quite premium, while the layout and some unique design elements help differentiate it from its German counterparts.
Though premium feeling, sportiness and ergonomics is still the focus of the cabin, so it's not like the cabin is particularly flashy or eye-catching. Seating position is low and sporty as you'd expect, but the cabin is surprisingly roomy being able to accommodate my 6'3 friend just fine. Up front, Supra has an exclusive instrument cluster which I actually prefer to BMW’s fully digital version, being both attractive and functional with its large centre tach + digital readouts on either side. I'm not too fond of the awkward-looking steering wheel (the result of combining a last-generation BMW steering wheel with a flat circular Toyota airbag in the middle), but to its credit it does feels great in the hand. I’m also not a huge fan of the cheap-feeling glittery black plastic divider connecting the climate controls to the lower centre console, but beyond that, everything looks and feels great.
Ironically, this 2-seater sports car has the best and most easy-to-use infotainment system among the Toyota lineup in my opinion, thanks once again to collaboration with the Germans. The infotainment hardware + screen, control knob, and UI are identical to BMW’s iDrive 6 system. In fact with the exception of some very light re-skinning, Toyota has made essentially no effort to hide this infotainment system's origins, which is great because it’s dead easy to use and not bogged down by unnecessary custom skins. Unfortunately the Supra still doesn’t get the latest and greatest iDrive 7 system, but iDrive 6 serves its purpose well enough in this context, and is less complex to use (but also less feature-packed).
There was a time when the word 'sports car' and 'practicality' didn’t go in the same sentence, but times have changed and this Supra makes a decent daily driver, all things considered. In normal mode its feisty personality is dramatically subdued, lending to smooth low speed maneuvering and gear shifts, a surprisingly forgiving suspension (more refined than last years at any rate), and easy lighter steering. Thanks to a 10.2 cubic feet rear hatch and a trunk pass-through, it can hold quite a few items for a 2 seater sports car, though the narrow opening and shallow depth can make fitting larger items a challenge. Other noteworthy mentions is the limited rear visibility and the double-bubble design roof, which wasn't an issue for me but can cause taller folks to bump their noggins on their way in, as well as further limiting visibility.
Toyota hasn't made any exterior tweaks for 2021; not that it needed any as it still looks as sharp as it did when it launched a year ago. Paying homage to its legendary Mk4 predecessor, Supra adopts a similar rounded design (rather than the sharp angular creases found in many modern sports cars), as well as some sharp ovally headlights that are reminiscent of past generations. Toyota says the side profile is inspired by the 2000 GT, and we can definitely see the resemblance in its sweptback profile and double-bubble roof shape.
Rear proportions look muscular thanks to flared fenders, well-sculpted rear wheel arches, and an aggressive diffuser + duckbill spoiler. If you're a nitpicker, get up close and you'll notice the abundance of fake vents (pictured below), including under the headlights, on the front fenders, behind the doors, and even in the rear under the tail lights. Overall though, Toyota has done an excellent job at paying homage to past legends in a sleek modern design that looks as good as it drives.
Recommended Build: $67,690 CAD
Here in Canada, speccing your Supra is as simple as it gets with only 2 things to choose from; the Supra 2.0 ($56,390) with its 255hp turbo 4, or the more potent Supra 3.0 ($67,690) with its 382hp inline 6 found in our tester had. Both models are still a blast to drive. We had the chance to briefly drive the 2.0 as well and found it to be surprisingly quick and hugely impressive given the $11,300 price difference, but if you're an enthusiast the 3.0 is where the real fun is at, giving you a far more satisfying exhaust note and some extra punch to really bring the Supra to life. An A91 edition is also available for an extra $1200, giving you some cosmetic upgrades including a rear lip spoiler, carbon mirror caps, unique matte-finished wheels, and alcantara seats.
Build your own Supra on Toyota's website at: https://www.toyota.ca/toyota/en/build-price/supra