Toyota GR Supra 2019 reviews: a fitting return for a Japanese icon
Critics give their verdicts after testing the new sports car
Almost 17 years after the Supra name disappeared from Toyota’s line-up, the new GR Supra sports car is back - and now critics have been behind the wheel to see if it was worth the wait.
Unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in January, the new A90-generation GR Supra is arguably one of the most important car launches of the year and maybe even the decade.
The launch marked not only the return of name that gained a massive following thanks to the Fast and Furious movie franchise, but also the start of a union between the Japanese carmaker and German giant BMW.
The GR Supra uses the same architecture and 3.0-litre straight-six engine as the new BMW Z4, while the futuristic styling comes from the Toyota FT-1 supercar concept, which first appeared at the Detroit-based motor show in 2014.
Here’s everything you need to know about the new GR Supra, and what the critics have to say about it:
The previous-generation Supra is widely regarded as one of the best options for those unable to afford a supercar - and the same can be said of the new model, according to most reviewers who have put the vehicle through its paces.
“There’s no doubting that this is a coupe with real talent and welcome character at a time when those traits should be applauded,” says Auto Express. The sports car “blends balance, agility, grip and poise” with a “punchy” BMW Z4-derived straight-six engine “that delivers a hit of performance and (mostly) the engine note we were after”.
Some fans of the old Supra, which was retired from sale in the early 2000s, claim that the new model’s BMW underpinnings mean it isn’t an authentic successor. While Auto Express says that “a little more Japanese individuality” would have made the car more appealing, the argument over its authenticity shouldn’t undermine the new Supra’s strengths.
However, Autocar argues that the Supra feels “compromised”, despite Toyota insisting that the new model has not been affected by the company’s ties with BMW. “It’s as if Toyota knew exactly how to make this a landmark sports car but pulled back, just a little, right at the last moment.”
The motoring magazine says that the Supra name should be reserved for “very special cars”, but the new model doesn’t feel like the “landmark sports car” that it could have been. Autocar claims that there’s “too much movement” in the suspension and the steering is lacking in feedback.
Top Gear, meanwhile, calls the Supra “a very complete coupe”, praising the car’s spacious, tech-filled interior and “rapid” performance. It’s a car “that probably strikes the best compromise of GT and sportiness of any car in its class”
While the “carry-overs from BMW are considerable”, such as the cabin’s design and infotainment system, the Supra is “a very talented driver’s car” overall and is arguably “a better BMW” than the German carmaker’s own models.
Price and release
Pre-orders for the new Supra are open, but buyers will need to place a £1,000 holding fee.
Prices start at £52,693, making the new Toyota more expensive than rivals including the £44,000 Porsche 718 Cayman and the £46,000 Alpine A110, WhatCar? says.
Images of the production-ready Supra were spread in early 2018, when users on fan forum SupraMkV.com posted leaked pictures that had been published in Japanese magazine Best Car.
The model unveiled this week has many of the same features as the company’s five-year-old FT-1 concept car, including the duck-tail spoiler, sculpted roof, muscular wheel arches and carbon-fibre side skirts.
Toyota has also taken inspiration from its classic 2000GT sports car from the 1960s, lifting features including the long sculpted bonnet and “double-bubble” roof, notes Auto Express.
Measuring in at 4,379mm in length, 1,854mm wide and 1,292mm in height, the Supra is bigger than its cheaper sports car sibling, the Toyota GT86. And although the wheelbase is shorter than that on the GT86, the Supra’s wider tyres make it “sharper to drive”, the magazine says.
Engines and performance
Under the Supra’s 2000GT-inspired bonnet sits the same 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six engine found in the BMW Z4, says Autocar.
Paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, this motor delivers 335bhp and 362lb ft of torque to the Supra’s rear wheels, helping the car achieve 0-62mph in just 4.3 seconds.
According to Evo, Toyota has limited the Supra’s top speed to 155mph.
However, given that previous generations of the sports car were favoured by vehicle tuners, expect some owners to achieve even more power and speed through a few modifications.
Will there be a racing version?
Absolutely. Toyota seems keen on promoting the new Supra as a sports car with racing pedigree, so the company has developed a number of competition cars and concepts.
The most recent unveiling is a high downforce racing machine that will be entered into the Japanese Super GT series, Car magazine reports.
The Supra will race in the premier GT500 category, competing against the Honda NSX that Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button drove to the Super GT title last year, the magazine says.
In the US, Toyota will be swapping its Camry saloon in favour of the new Supra in the Nascar Xfinity Series for the 2019 season, says Autocar. The Xfinity Series sits below the premier Nascar category, where the Camry is expected to stay for the upcoming season.
Despite both cars boasting similar styling to the standard Supra, neither use any components from the road car. Instead, the racing cars are bespoke machines designed to meet the rules of their respective categories.
However, the company unveiled its GR Supra Racing Concept at the Geneva Motor Show last March and this may bear a closer resemblance to the road car.
Though Toyota has kept details about the concept close to its chest, the vehicle appears to share similarities with racing cars competing in GT3-spec championships.
This would suggest the car uses a tuned version of the road car’s 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six engine, as GT3 rules dictate that manufacturers use motors derived from their road-going counterparts.