Wednesday, November 25, 2020

2020 Toyota GR Supra GTS Review

It’s been a very, very long time between drinks for Toyota Supra fans, so is this all-new 2020 Toyota GR Supra GTS worth the wait?

TL;DR: The all-new Supra is every inch the sports car it looks like, it’s also useable as a daily driver, and capable as a grand tourer too.
What we like: Power, gearbox, trick rear differential, it’s ability to put power the ground, breadth of capability from running local errands to track and touring.
Not so great: No manual transmission available, less than ideal track practicality, plasticky steering wheel.

2020 Toyota GR Supra GTS Pricing and Specifications

Price $94,900+ORCs Warranty five years, 160,000km Safety not tested Engine 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbocharged petrol Power 250kW @ 500-6500rpm Torque 500Nm @ 1600-4500rpm Transmission eight-speed automatic Drive rear-wheel drive 0-100km/h 4.3 seconds Dimensions 4739mm long; 1854mm wide; 1292mm high Turning Circle 10.4m Kerb Weight 1495kg SeatsFuel Tank 52 litres Fuel Consumption 7.7L/100km (combined cycle)

The Supra is Toyota’s most famous performance nameplate. It all began with the A40 which was based on a Celica coupe that was lengthened to accept a 92kW six-cylinder engine instead of a four-cylinder. The line continued into the early 1980s with the A60 Celica Supra which holds a special for me because I owned one, recalling it as rapid and exotic compared to the hot-hatches of the late 1990s before it was written off by an ex-girlfriend. Sigh.

In 1986 the A70 was released, which saw the Celica morph into a front-drive coupe and the Supra into a more powerful rear-drive model – around 177kW from a 3.0L turbo with a car weight of 1500kg, big numbers in those days. But the car which started the Supra legend was the A80 of 1993, made famous by Brian O’Conner in the Fast and Furious franchise. 

The A80 was discontinued in 2002, and that left Toyota bereft of a specialised performance car until the arrival of the Toyota 86 in 2012. In 2019 the Supra was reborn.

Toyota Supra

What we have on test is the Toyota GR Supra A90 GTS – the GR stands for Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s competition arm. The A90 is the model sequence, and there are two trim levels, GT and our tester, the GTS. We drove the car for a week but due to COVID-19 restrictions didn’t do our full test, just around-town errands we’d have to do anyway.

Tell me more about the Supra…

The A90 is a two-seat sports car and tourer. It follows the traditional Supra layout of an in-line six-cylinder engine, rear wheel drive and a coupe body, but loses the A80’s rear seats and a manual transmission option. The six-cylinder twin-scroll turbocharged engine makes 250kW – contrast that with the 177kW from the same 3.0L turbo of the 1980s-era A70 – with a promised upgrade to 285kW later in 2020, and 500Nm of torque which is sent by an eight-speed automatic transmission, via an electronically controlled limited-slip clutch-pack differential, to the rear wheels, all of which results in a claimed 0-100km/h sprint of 4.3 seconds.

The suspension is adjustable to normal and sport settings, and dynamically changes according to what the car’s doing. The steering is electric, and there are two driving modes – Normal and Sport, the latter of which sharpens the throttle response, relaxes the stability control, changes the exhaust note, stiffens the suspension, changes the steering feel and modifies the gearshift points to be early to change down and late to change up. The tyres are staggered so different sizes front and rear– at the front are 255/35/19 at at the rear 275/40/19, so both wider and taller. The front rims are slightly narrower than the rear rims.

I don’t generally comment on a car’s looks, as you don’t need me telling you what it looks like, although carmakers press releases are full of exactly that. But I will say is that the three fake air inlets on the car are properly stupid. There is talk the inlets can be used for racing…but I don’t agree, they’re in the wrong place and there’s metal underneath the plastic. 

Toyota claims the vehicle has a 50:50 weight balance and at this point I’m meant to parrot the claim that that’s “perfect”, but as I’ve explained to anyone who’ll stand still long enough, a 50:50 distribution is meaningless. What’s important is where that mass is, and it should be as central as possible. Indeed, there’s strong evidence that something like 40:60 is better for sports cars.

The A90 was developed with BMW, and that’s been the subject of some angst. Read more about that HERE.

The two Supra models are:

  • Toyota GR Supra GT $84,900+ORCs; and
  • Toyota GR Supra GTS $94,900+ORCs.

The GT and GTS are very similar. The extra $10,000 for the GTS gets you 19-inch wheels, red-painted brake calipers and a rear rotor diameter of 345mm instead of 330mm for the GT, sports accelerator and brakes (which means fake-ish metal coverings), a heads-up display and a JBL sound system. The brake change is really odd. The rear brakes are rarely a problem on sports cars as most of the work is done by the fronts, and merely increasing the rotor size won’t do much. Warranty is the standard Toyota 5-year or 160,000km, whichever comes first.

There are, at present, no Gazoo Racing options or modifications, just matte grey paint and an Alacantra trim for the GTS, each costing an extra $2500. Yowsers.

Based off an, ahem, BMW the interior’s the best ever on a Toyota?

If you’re looking at the pictures and going, ‘hang on’… yep, there’s a lot of BMW inside the Supra. And that’s a good thing because most Toyota interiors share quality with old lunchboxes. The infotainment, for instance, is all BMW as is the iDrive controller, the infotainment system is quick to respond, easy to read and clear to understand. You can either use the iDrive controller, or touch the screen, or even write letters on the controller itself.

Annoyingly, some of the car’s controls are masked by the steering wheel, notably the lighting buttons, and the trip odometer reset button which is a tiny black-on-black item on the dash display. The dash itself is mostly rev counter with a digital speedo – the dash space could have been better used. The GTS has a heads-up display which shows speed, navigation and soundtrack information. There’s a handy wireless charging pad for your phone tucked under the dash too.

The big disappointment is the steering wheel which is a little too large and far too plasticky, and that’s a shame as BMW do pretty decent wheels if sometimes a little chunky. If I owned a Supra, I’d get it covered in Alcantra straight away. The glovebox is small, there’s no centre console just two cup holders, and the door pockets are tiny, certainly can’t stash a water bottle, so, in-cabin storage is poor. I’d also suggest there’s a little too much boring grey.

The boot is a liftback and opens up to reveal a relatively small access hatch into a slightly larger boot. There is plenty of room for kids school bags, the weekly shop, or bags for a couple to enjoy a long weekend away. The parcel shelf can be removed, and there’s four very solid tie-down points in the boot plus a 12v socket and a parcel shelf. Overall, the Supra is practical for its class of two-seater rear-drive sports cars, but that means it won’t approach the usability of a hot hatch.

The Supra should be pretty good to drive, right?

The Supra is a lot of fun, even at the mostly low around-town speeds I could manage during the test. The acceleration is rapid, with the eight-speed auto always in the right gear and there’s plenty of torque on tap so there’s no silly rev-hunting.

Toyota Supra

The engine note is throatily purposeful, especially in Sports mode, the brakes are strong, the steering is direct albeit not particularly feelsome, and corner entry, apex and exit can be achieved at surprising speeds thanks to the tyres and suspension. But it’s the rear diff that makes a big difference as it helps rotate the car into the corner, and track out of bends. I’m bitterly disappointed my test wasn’t able to include any track time at Winton as originally planned, but I have heard of one owner who has run a 1.34 albeit with slightly better tyres – the equivalent Toyota 86 time would be 1.43-1.45.

The sports cars which are usually fun around town are the small, light ones such as the MX-5. Bigger, heavier and more powerful cars tend to feel a bit constrained at lower speeds. Yet while the Supra is no MX-5 or Elise, it manages to deliver its considerable power in a way which is fun in the ‘burbs, and has the sharpness of handling to back it up. I think the way the power is transmitted to the ground is remarkable and better than just about any other rear-drive car (big call alert) – the active rear differential which works on corner entry and exit, and choice of quality tyres has a lot to do with that performance. 

Rear visibility is terrible, thanks to the small rear window and massive B-pillars. However, the rear view camera is large and clear, plus there’s rear cross-traffic alert, and the wing mirrors are also of a decent size so slow-speed manoeuvring isn’t too bad, although the 10.4m turning circle is large for the car’s size. The steering is a mere 2.1 turns lock-to-lock.

Hang on, didn’t I say I didn’t track test the Supra?

I didn’t get to drive the Supra on track but I expect it’d be a delight. That said, I do have a few reservations about it as a motorsports car. The staggered wheel setup will increase costs, and you’ll either need to drive your track tyres to the track, or trailer the car, and you can’t swap tyres front to rear. I can’t see any way to put a harness in as there are no holes in the seats, or reverse the headrests. The electronic park brake is no good for handbrake turns. But that aside, I think it’d be an amazing track car. I checked helmet clearance – for 5ft 11in of me with helmet there is still a good 50mm of clearance to the roof. I would like a bit more support from the seat though.

Does it get five-star safety?

Like most low-volume cars, the Supra hasn’t been ANCAP-tested and probably won’t be. However, you can assume Toyota has done its usual good job on the safety, and it did manage to get a 5-star rating for the 86, unlike Ford with the Mustang. There is a decent amount of active safety: AEB, active cruise, front/rear parking sensors, a high-quality rear parking camera, tyre pressure monitor with temperatures, blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning. Most of these are configurable, and the active ones seemed to work as they should during our drive. And a big thanks to the unwary shopper who tested the pedestrian detection for us…

So should I buy a Supra?

I think the Supra would be a fine vehicle for a couple who want a comfortable sports tourer coupe for daily use, and trips at the weekend of overnight or longer. It’d eat up interstate miles in a way that say the 86 or MX-5 cannot, but when time comes for fun the Supra would be in a different class to the Mustang or Lexus cars.  I think that’s its niche, versatility…but that comes at a cost. Then again, if you want a car that does all that better, the Porsche Cayman will set you back around $130,000 drive-away…which makes the Supra a bargain. Unlike the 86 and Mustang, customers haven’t created a huge waiting list, so you can get your Supra right away.

MotoFomo Verdict

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Price
Performance
Ride and Handling
Practicality
Fun Factor
Safety

SUMMARY

The Toyota Supra is a whole lot of fun to drive and, to be fair, spend a week with it and you'll soon forget it was born of a partnership with BMW. We're looking forward to getting it back for a proper test. But, personally, I'm waiting for the GR Yaris which I'm hoping will be competitively priced so I can afford the six-speed manual, all-drive pocket rocket. Or maybe the updated 86 which is rumoured to be getting a 2.4L engine with 162kW of power.
Robert Pepperhttps://l2sfbc.com
Automotive technical journalist specialising in 4X4s, camping, racecars and towing. Has designed and run driving courses covering offroading driving, winching, track racing and towing. Enjoys most things involving wings, wheels or sails. Follow me on Facebook and YouTube if you want explanations you won't find anywhere else!

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