Road Tests

First Drive: Toyota Supra – A long-awaited revival of a much-loved sports car

Time 10:00 am, July 2, 2019

What is it?

After years of will-they-won’t-they rumours, concept cars, teaser images, prototypes spied at the Nürburgring and the sheer hope of enthusiasts, the Toyota Supra is finally here. And that headline isn’t deceiving you: we’ve driven it.

Calling this car the most anticipated vehicle of the decade wouldn’t be an overstatement. After all, it’s the revival of a hugely loved sports car that last saw the light of day in 2002. However, it isn’t without its controversy, with this Supra co-developed with BMW – news of which hasn’t been received well in some corners of the motoring world.

What’s new?

Some will call this a BMW in drag, and there’s certain merit to this claim. Under its Toyota-designed skin is the same platform as the BMW Z4, with the 3.0-litre engine brewed from the German pot.

There’s even a hint of BMW inside too, with switchgear and the iDrive infotainment system lifted from its parts bin to be used here.

What’s under the bonnet?

That BMW powerplant is the same as in any ‘40i’ denoted vehicle it offers, although it does conform to the six-cylinder formula every Supra to date has boasted. The 3.0-litre, straight-six sends 335bhp and 500Nm of torque to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox, with the result a 0-60mph time of 4.1 seconds and a limited 155mph top speed. In terms of efficiency, Toyota claims it will return 34.5mpg while emitting 170g of CO2 per km.

What’s it like to drive?

Toyota has claimed this Supra boasts a ‘Golden Ratio’ in terms of length to width, and that having almost box-like proportions allows the car to be one of the best-handling on the market. Thankfully, this proves true.

It skips and prances along back roads with the poise and balance of a ballet dancer, feeding sensations from the road to the driver’s backside and fingertips in a way very few modern mainstream cars can manage. Its steering is sublimely well judged, and the car does a great job of hiding its 1,815kg kerb weight.

Better still, it proves to be comfortable and refined when used on longer runs, too. There’s a real sense you could effortlessly cover 200 miles of motorway in this – something many sports cars couldn’t claim.

How does it look?

The classic sports car formula is represented in the Toyota Supra’s design. Its long bonnet, short rear overhangs and low-slung cockpit hark back to an era of British classics in the ’60s and ’70s. It does have a modern twist though, with angular tail-light design vents everywhere and a front fascia that looks lifted from a UFO. It’s undoubtedly a head-turner, although from 
some angles the spacecraft design details come across as awkward.

If it were our money, we’d be spec’ing the Supra in yellow, which really brings the car’s sharp details to life.

What’s it like inside?

We’ll swing back to the BMW partnership here, which is hard to ignore once in the car.

All of its controls, dials and even the iDrive infotainment system are lifted from the German firm. This is far from being a bad thing though,
as it’s much higher quality than anything 
Toyota produces at the moment, although it does lack character.

There’s no escaping the lack of space either. Of course, low-slung sports cars are never going to be the most capacious of machines, but the Supra’s cabin feels particularly tight – and may prove a struggle to get comfortable in for taller drivers. In terms of boot capacity, it boasts a respectable 290 litres.

What’s the spec like?

Pricing for the Toyota Supra begins at £52,695, putting it above key rivals Alpine A110 and Porsche 718 Cayman. That said, it does come with a fairly comprehensive list of kit.

Luxury items include 19-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise, keyless entry, a digital instrument cluster, adaptive LED headlights and the BMW iDrive-based infotainment system displayed on an 8.8-inch screen.

‘Pro’ grade builds further on this with black leather upholstery, a 12-speaker JBL sound
system, wireless phone charging and a 
head-up display. Toyota reckons this will be the big seller in the UK, with a £54,000 list price.

It’s arguably a high starting price, although it clearly hasn’t put customers off so far — with all 300 examples destined for the UK in 2019 already accounted for.

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What do the press think?

Top Gear described the Supra as ‘a thoroughly capable all-round coupe. But not a purebred Toyota’, while Auto Express said: ‘It’s a brilliant sports car with an agile rear-wheel-drive chassis.’

What do we think?

Doubts over the success of the Toyota Supra 
aren’t few in number. The legendary ‘A80’ Mk4 has large boots to fill, and many are sceptical about the BMW connection.

However, the new Supra is surely set to 
create its own legacy. It delivers its own unique driving experience that’s one of the best from 
any modern sports car, and the co-development with BMW has served the car well in all the 
right areas. That said, there’s definitely a feeling its engine could take a little more power on board, plus a manual gearbox and a better exhaust note while we’re on that topic…

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