2021 Toyota Supra GR Review: BMW Builds a Better Toyota

Discussion in 'General' started by cliff leppke, Jan 6, 2022.

  1. cliff leppke

    cliff leppke Cliff Leppke


    For decades Buick ads proclaimed: When better automobiles are built, Buick will build them. Flashforward to 2021, this slogan deserves an update: When a better Toyota sports car is built, BMW will build it. In fact, Toyota’s two sports cars—the 86 (fabricated by Subaru as the BRZ) and Supra (BMW)—prove platform sharing reaps big rewards.

    Unlike the 86/BRZ duo, which look alike, the Supra and its BMW Z4 kin don’t. One’s a Euro-themed roadster, and the other’s a curvaceous liftback coupe. The sampled Nitro Yellow Gazoo Racing 2021 Supra with its two fewer inline cylinders than you’d expect (Supras at birth were six-cylinder Celicas) is still wickedly quick. Supra faithful might whine about this, uhm, shortage. Nonetheless, to borrow words from Tony the Tiger, “It’s GRrrreat.” And we’re not talking about dainty sugary flakes.

    Instead, the 255-hp/295 lb-ft of torque GR requires no frosting; the good stuff is baked in. Add active exhaust and the MSRP is about $44,215. Top speed is 155 mph. These numbers don’t tell you how suddenly this vehicle wins you over. Sure, the GR’s double-bubble roof seems sort of corny—although headroom is plentiful. And there are scores of faux vents—artificial as vanillin. Perhaps A. J. Foyt would dig the nose cone.

    In its banana-split hue, however, the Supra looks like a sex-ed prop—suitable for a cab-back car prophylactic demo. Talk about emissions…. It’s a looker. And now it comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged mill tucked sort of mid front surrounded by lots of aluminum framing. It’s light at 3,181 lbs.


    From my perspective, my first glimpse of a sleek Toyota was in a late 1960s Bond film—a Jaguar-sleek 2000GT complete with a pint-sized Sony TV. It wasn’t until I sampled the 1983 Supra that I believed Toyota earned Datsun Z-car greatness. The rivalry between these two Japanese icons was sort of like that between the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro; each machine upping the ante.


    Today’s Supra has different DNA. It says so, in a nod to Conde Nast stylebook—uhm—ultimate pie-hole exit word, on the door jam--BMW. It shares the Z4’s roadster’s chassis, engine, eight-speed automatic transmission, and weight-shaving structure. And the liftback has additional bracing behind the two Paul McCobb-style origami-chairs. Their mostly manual seat controls let you tailor them to near perfection—best suited to Milan runway models as adjustable width bolsters fit the Skinny Pop-set best. Your only accommodation, besides stepping over a side threshold is a gas pedal that’s slight to the left making room for a tranny tunnel.

    Hop in and the machine tickles you silly. You’ll want to giggle because the GR in Sport explores the traction and cornering capabilities of staggered-width 18-inch Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires—255/40ZR18 front–275/40ZR18 rear. These tires grip without roaring. Forward motion is likewise doled out with finesse. And even though the steering assist isn’t particularly communicative, it dials drama-free cornering, about as good as it gets. The steering ratio is ultra-fast at about two turns lock-to-lock. Effort builds properly. And the car feels planted rather than nervous.

    The GR spurts when you apply the thrill pedal. And even though the automatic transmission is biased toward low-rpm engine ops—1500 rpm at 60 mph—and nets 32.5 mpg (premium) and causes some engine drone—mostly low-pitch exhaust note—the turbo wakes up in a nano second dispatching you to 60 mph in about five swift seconds. In the process, the mill is nicely muffled and free from bad vibrations. The EPA estimates 25-mpg city/32 highway are surprisingly thrifty for this much muscle.

    Select the sports mode and the engine wakes up. The shift algorithm lets it rev higher, blips throttle for downshifts and sends a baritone blast out the twin exit pipes. Try it. You’ll like it. There’s a launch mode not sampled; normal takeoff is satisfactory.

    The Supra’s instrument panel display and infotainment screens are problematic. Both are too dim in daylight. Plus, you cannot crank up their daytime illumination—night yes, day no. Toyota/BMW pollutes the touchscreen with fussy tiny icons. There’s also an Audi-style center console rotary controller with touchpad. Regardless, it fetched my addresses via voice prompt—seemingly clairvoyant. Two switches on the tip of the turn-signal stalk let you cycle through a trip computer’s data or enable the automatic high beams.

    Ride quality is brusque. You’ll get punched plenty with a very active suspension. All of this fades when you notice what you’re not noticing—very low wind noise and muted driveline sounds. Highway trips to the racetrack won’t tire you out. In fact, the sensation at legal speeds is strictly sub legal—fast seems slow.

    You and your driving companion enjoy a cabin swathed in lots of soft-touch materials. The high center console has drive-assist and sport-mode buttons. The sport steering wheel fits well although sun visors don’t swivel. And my tester’s subwoofer rattled. Brakes worked effectively.

    In order to lift the rear lid, you must press a release button on the driver’s door or use the key fob—a hassle. The stowage area is modest and there’s a 12-volt battery in back. Warning: no spare tire.

    Blind spots are big. The A pillar/mirror area is beefy and blocks sight, while the rear quarter obliterates entire vehicles.

    Some Toyota enthusiasts might wince at this car’s birth certificate and its two fewer cylinders or perhaps its Ghia like curves. I’d say it’s tempting—taut and Ter—GR—rific. Its Euro genus adds to its allure.
    EdwinTheMagnificent likes this.

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