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German-influenced it may be but the new Toyota Supra has a character distinct from its Continental twin...

The realisation dawns a few minutes after you first set off in the A90-generation Toyota Supra: it feels different to a BMW Z4 M40i. Sure, the exhaust note is clearly Bavarian and you’ll have to try really, really hard not to notice BMW switchgear in your periphery as you peer out the deeply slanted windscreen. The dissimilarity, however, is in the way the Supra drives. It’s softer yet, somehow, beautifully controlled, too. The suspension offers real compliance but the two-door coupé is never loose-limbed. But more on that later.

The product of joint development by Japan and Germany (an agonisingly long gestation period), the Supra and Z4 share chassis architecture, suspension, electrics and drivetrains. An astute move by both brands considering the limited volumes at which these sportscars will sell, BMW ultimately spent less on a Z4 it would have built anyway and Toyota could bring a new Supra to market earlier than would have been the case had it followed its own path.

Of course, this partnership also allowed Toyota to honour the Supra’s legacy: a front-mounted inline-six engine driving the rear wheels. Tested on the Nürburgring Nordschleife (the vehicle is built alongside the Z4 by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria), the new Supra is the first bespoke Toyota honed by Gazoo Racing, which is in charge of its global motorsports programme.

Locally, Toyota South Africa Motors offers the Supra in two trim grades, an entry-level Track derivative and this higher-spec (nameless) version. The Track’s stripped of convenience and safety features to dip below a million (R953 000), while this unit receives the full-fat specification complement plus metallic paint and costs R1 072 300, or R35 601 more than a Z4 M40i.

Much has been written about the Supra’s styling, some people expressing admiration and others dislike. The CAR team followed that split, with certain members praising the attention-grabbing looks and others critiquing the fake scoops and vents, and the slightly odd proportions from certain angles (the front three-quarter, for example). Still, it’s an intriguing design which swivels eyeballs and heads, and isn’t that the point?

The interior is equally divisive, but for different reasons. The connection to BMW is most obvious here, where nearly every switch, knob and button has been pilfered from the German company’s parts bin. It’s more successful in some parts – iDrive infotainment accessed via an 8,8-inch touchscreen or that familiar rotary controller; climate controls – than others (the steering wheel is plainly a previous-generation BMW item), but perceived quality is impressive throughout and everything is straightforward to use. A Z4 has the edge, though, in creating a sense of material richness and occasion.

Heavily bolstered seats with integrated headrests are bespoke to the Supra and – aside from some shortness in the squab for taller drivers – they’re comfortable, supportive and low-slung. In-cabin storage is in short supply but the boot is a good size at 184 litres.

Not divisive at all is the sonorous 3,0-litre inline-six turbopetrol sitting far back in the engine bay for a near-perfect 50:50 weight distribution. Developing 250 kW and 500 N.m from 1 600 to 4 500 r/min, the B58-coded engine boasts a single twin-scroll turbocharger, direct fuel injection and continuously variable valve control. It’s mated with an ZF-sourced eight-speed auto ‘box linked to paddle shifters behind the thin-rimmed (yay!) tiller.

Despite offering launch control, the best acceleration run on our test strip was achieved with engine revs kept low against the brake; the Supra sped to 100 km/h in a mere 4,31 seconds. That’s more than half a second quicker than a 64 kg heavier Z4 M40i test unit managed in July 2019. In-gear, the Toyota shows the Z4 a clean pair of heels. Braking performance is exceptional, too, the Supra coming to a halt in an average time over 10 stops of just 2,65 seconds and needing just 34,02 metres to do so.    

In order to ensure optimum chassis balance, the engineers aimed for a “golden ratio” when developing the underpinnings. It’s widely recognised the best balanced of agility and stability is obtained with a ratio of 1,5-1,6 to 1 (the wheelbase measurement divided by the rear track’s). With respective figures of 2 470 and 1 589 mm, the Supra’s ratio is 1,55 to 1, Toyota’s original target.

Engineer-speak aside, this two-seater has a tangible sense of pivoting around its centre-point. The front turns incisively and the rear axle, with its active differential, follows diligently. Trim the throttle and the line tightens; feed in more power and the front-end starts nudging wide. The Supra feels playful but never intimidating. It probably has a smidge too much grip (the rear tyres are extra wide) but that means progress is smooth and neat, yet still enjoyable.

The steering system is lighter here than in the Z4, and much the better for it. It’s direct, quick (just 2,2 turns lock to lock) and has sufficient feel in cornering extremis.
PORT ELIZABETH, Eastern Cape – My memory of the Toyota Supra is a pretty standard one: using a grey PlayStation controller to pilot a pixelated Mk4 (with very little skill) round the simplest tracks I could find in 1997’s Gran Turismo.

My fascination with this particular car was deepened after the Supra appeared in The Fast and the Furious in 2001. For many, this was the movie that kicked off the “JDM” craze that took hold of the automotive world in the years that followed. The poster car for this movement was, of course, an A80/Mk4 Toyota Supra decked out in a Bomex body kit finished in the candy pearl orange hue made famous by the Lamborghini Diablo GT.

Despite being discontinued in 2002, the Supra lived on in the hearts of many enthusiasts, with fans continuously begging Toyota to release a follow-up model. Fast-forward to 2019 and, after many years of development, the Japanese brand has finally answered the call with a sportscar that were anticipating … although not quite in the form that they were initially expecting.

The A90-generation Supra, of course, was developed alongside the BMW Z4 roadster. Many believe this to be a case of Toyota simply dropping a Supra body onto BMW underpinnings, but the Japanese firm insists the two brands worked closely together to bringing their respective cars to life. Interestingly, the new Supra is more of a departure from the formula than previous models as it takes the form of a focused two-seater sportscar rather than a sporty 2+2 GT.

What has upset many a keyboard warrior is the fact the heart of the new Supra is BMW’s esteemed B58 turbocharged 3,0-litre straight-six engine, rather than a similar variation of Toyota’s 29-year-old twin-turbo 2JZ-GTE. And what has upset enthusiasts further is that a six-speed manual is nowhere to be found … despite the B58 being linked to such a gearbox in vehicles like the M240i.

When revealed, the Supra drew some criticism for its styling. In the metal, however, the new model has a certain presence – regardless of the chosen paint colour, although it is perhaps slightly more pleasing in the brighter shades – and is certainly able to turn heads. Inside, of course, the BMW influence is clear.

By now, I’m sure it’s clear there’s plenty of controversy surrounding the new Supra. Still, I think that’s testament to the fact fans have a deep passion for this nameplate. These same fans, though, have made it clear they wanted a truly Japanese sportscar rather than something with obvious BMW genetics.

Still, Toyota’s aim was to create an engaging car (without spending obscene amounts of money on development … and receiving little return on that investment) rather than a chunk of metal relying purely on the nostalgia associated with its storied nameplate. And this it has certainly achieved by refining the Z4’s platform to feel stiffer and more responsive.

It’s a similar case with the engine. Toyota says the straight-six generates the same 250 kW and 500 N.m as it does in the Z4 roadster, but from behind the wheel it’s clear that there’s a little grunt on offer than claimed.

Indeed, dyno tests performed overseas have suggested the Supra’s peak power is in fact closer to 280 kW and after experiencing the newcomer I certainly wouldn’t rule out that possibility. The Supra’s ability to launch off the line and accelerate through the gears is remarkable (particularly considering it’s using only a single twin-scroll turbocharger). The eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, meanwhile, contributes to this car’s longitudinal abilities as it offers responsive shifts without being quite as aggressive in its cog-swapping duties as a dual-clutch ‘box.

The vehicle further impresses in one area that arguably matters the most: corners. Japanese sportscars from the ‘90s are known to be satisfying cars to drive quickly over mountain passes. The new Supra is no exception, combining front MacPherson struts and a rear multi-link arrangement with adaptive variable suspension, a rear e-diff and a set of Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres. Its 50/50 weight distribution plays a role here, too.

The Supra is, of course, rear-wheel drive with a fairly short wheelbase (measuring 2 470 mm) and delivers a composed experience through tight corners. As long as you keep the ESC engaged, the Supra is surprisingly forgiving … but take things too far (with the electronic nannies off) and oversteer is easily provoked. The steering, however, lacks both feel and weight, providing little feedback to the driver.

On the local launch, we had the chance to explore the Supra’s limits on a gymkhana course. Curious about the Supra’s drifting abilities? Well, (and this coming from someone who has very little experience in sideways driving) the sportscar makes this fairly easy … in a controlled environment, of course. Plant the accelerator and spin the tiller (with the electronic assists disengaged) and you’ll set the Supra into a satisfyingly drifty arc that can be easily controlled using the throttle.

Despite being quite exciting to drive, I can’t help but feel the car lacks the sort of aural persona a Supra should have. Admittedly, there are plenty of restrictions on manufacturers in terms of exhaust systems (what with today’s stringent emissions regulations in Europe) but I feel the Supra is lacking a soundtrack that would serve as a tribute to the famous 2JZ. Still, there’s always room to improve this in the aftermarket segment.

Will enthusiasts who own or hanker after an A70 or A80 Supra appreciate the new model? Well, once they’ve driven it, they probably will. You see, the A90 is more of a sportscar than its predecessors.

What it does lack, however, is a certain personality. Sure, the Supra ticks plenty of boxes in the performance department, but there’s a driver-to-car connection – the sort of feeling you have piloting certain other Japanese sportscars, such as the Honda Civic Type R and Mazda MX-5 – missing from the equation. In all fairness, though, living up to the fabled badge was never going to be easy.

Ultimately, the new Supra comes close. So close, in fact, that adding a manual gearbox, more feelsome steering and a more characterful exhaust note would likely result in a Supra capable of matching its legendary predecessors. BMW bits and all.

2020 Toyota Supra 3.0T

R899,900
Ref No: 1769915

Manufacturer Specifications

Standard - standard Optional - optional
  • Leather upholstery: suede-cloth
  • Seats quantity: 2
  • Air conditioning: Standard
  • Climate control automatic air conditioning: Standard
  • Cup bottle holders: Standard
  • Lumbar support adjustment: front electric
  • Heated ventilated seats: front heated
  • Antilock braking system (ABS): Standard
  • Electronic brake distribution (EBD): Standard
  • Brake assist (BAS/EBA): Standard
  • Traction control: Standard
  • Stability control: Standard
  • Tyre pressure sensor monitor deflation detection system: Standard
  • Driver airbag: Standard
  • Front passenger airbag: Standard
  • Driver knee airbag: Standard
  • Front side airbags: Standard
  • Curtain airbags: Standard
  • Airbag quantity: 7
  • Lane departure warning: Standard
  • Lane change blindspot warning assist monitor: Standard
  • Automatic drive away locking: Standard
  • ISOFIX child seat mountings: passenger
  • Directional turning headlights: LED
  • Adaptive headlights varying light distribution: LED
  • Emergency brake hazardlights: emergency-brake flashing brake lights + hazards
  • Start stop button: Standard
  • Engine auto Stop Start idle stop ecostop: Standard
  • Hillstart assist hillholder: Standard
  • Sports suspension: adaptive
  • Electronically adjustable suspension: adaptive
  • Power steering: Standard
  • Multifunction steering wheel controls: Standard
  • Head up display: Standard
  • Navigation: Standard
  • Cruise control: adaptive
  • Active adaptive cruise control: Standard
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Standard
  • Aux in auxiliary input: Standard
  • USB port: Standard
  • Powersocket 12V: front + boot
  • Central locking: keyless
  • Remote central locking: Standard
  • Key less access start hands free key: Standard
  • Electric windows: front (rear fixed)
  • Rain sensor auto wipers: Standard
  • Auto dim interior mirror: Standard
  • Heated exterior mirrors: Standard
  • Electric seat adjustment: front
  • Daytime driving running lights: LED
  • Light sensor auto on off lights: Standard
  • Xenon headlights: LED
  • Highbeam assist: Standard
  • Highlevel 3rd brakelight: Standard
  • Rear fog lamps lights: Standard
  • Park distance control PDC: rear
  • Camera for park distance control: rear
  • Rear spoiler: Standard
  • Fuel Type: petrol
  • Fuel range average: 675 km
  • Driven wheels: rear
  • Driven wheels quantity: 2
  • Gearratios quantity: 8
  • Gearshift: automatic
  • Transmission type: automatic
  • Gear shift paddles: Standard
  • Electromechanical parking brake: Standard
  • Front tyres: 255/35 R19
  • Reartyres: 275/35 R19
  • Length: 4379 mm
  • Width excl mirrors incl mirrors: 1854 mm
  • Height: 1294 mm
  • Wheel base: 2470 mm
  • Ground clearance minimum maximum: 115 mm
  • Turning circle wheels body: 10.4 m
  • Load volume / capacity: 290 L
  • Load volume / capacity: 290 L
  • Unladen/tare/kerb weight: 1495 kg
  • Load carrying capacity / payload: 320
  • Gross weight (GVM): 1815 kg
  • Towing capacity - unbraked: 0
  • Towing capacity - braked: 0
  • Fuel tank capacity (incl reserve): 52l
  • Fuel consumption average: 7.7 l/100km
  • CO2 emissions average: 177g/km
  • Emission control phase Euro EU level: Euro 6
  • Power maximum: 250 kW
  • Power maximum total: 250 kW
  • Power peak revs: 5000-6500 r/min
  • Power to weight ratio: 167.2 kW/ton
  • Torque maximum: 500 Nm
  • Torque peak revs: 1600-4500 r/min
  • Torque maximum total: 500 Nm
  • Torque to weight ratio: 334 Nm/ton
  • Acceleration 0-100 kmh: 4.3s
  • Maximum top speed: 250 km/h
  • Engine position/ location: front
  • Engine capacity: 2998 cc
  • Engine size: 3.0l
  • enginedetailshort: 3.0T
  • Engine + detail: 3.0 turbo
  • Cylinder layout: inline
  • Cylinders: 6
  • Cylinder layout + quantity: i6
  • Cam: dohc
  • Valves per cylinder: 4
  • Valves quantity: 24
  • Variable camvalve timing: Standard
  • Variable valvelift: Standard
  • Turbocharger: Standard
  • Warranty time (years): 3
  • Warranty distance (km): 100000 km
  • Service plan: Standard
  • Service plan time (years): 4 services
  • Service plan time (distance): 80000 km
  • Service interval (distance): 20000 km
  • Service interval (time): 1
  • Brand: Toyota
  • Status: c
  • Segment: passenger car
  • MMcode: 60099370
  • MMVariant: GR SUPRA 3.0T
  • MMintrodat: 2019-07-12
  • Introdate: 2019-07-15
  • DuoportarecordID: ToyoGRSup1c2

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