Toyota Supra is a Japanese legend re-imagined for a new generation
The Supra flies again after a 17-year absence, with a tin-top roof and now powered by BMW muscle
The Toyota Supra is back, and there are a number of ways which you can look at this platform-sharing saga.
Enthusiasts will see the much anticipated return of a renowned nameplate while the disgruntled have long begun to mock it as unoriginal and nothing but a BMW Z4 underneath. Then there are those who will salivate at the prospects of the good bits from both companies combined to create a luxurious, safe and sophisticated take of a legend.
The cabin is snug feeling but it too suffers from the same space foibles found in the Z4’s shortened wheelbase. Shoulder room isn’t particularly great but the footwell area is generous and accommodates big feet.
Headroom could have suffered due to the Supra being 10mm lower than its Bavarian peer but carving out a pair of domes in the roof lining has helped the cause, obliging even for the wearing of helmets. You can also reach into the boot through an aperture in the middle bulkhead, doing away with the need to stop to retrieve things from the boot.
With its divvy of the jointly developed chassis, Toyota Gazoo Racing’s first official full car project has a similar 2,470mm wheelbase, width of 1,854mm and overall length of 4,379mm as the Z4.
In a nutshell, the Supra is 45kg lighter but lower and longer than its BMW cousin.
Said to be tailored specifically to Toyota’s traditions and client expectations, the Supra cabin follows in the company’s current flavour of interior décor but the BMW effect is domineering.
A freestanding information display, a big and round dial controller together with a 22cm high-definition driver’s instrument display offer a portal to car and driving info. Dual climate control, a multifunction steering wheel with controls for media, head-up display, pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam, swivelling lights, and road sign display add to the ample list of standard convenience items.
Toyota says the GR Supra Track foregoes some possible equipment in efforts to add lightness primarily for performance-orientated driving by prioritising added vehicle dynamics over luxury specification.
The "normal" GR Supra adds a raft of comfort and convenience specification — to truly offer an all-encompassing package.
It's a terrific looking car. Steroidal trademarks of aggressively bulging flanks and a dramatic rear end design with a pronounced ducktail successfully blend retro styling with aerodynamic science.
The Supra roars with intent on start-up. On the move, and in suburbia, the two-seater coupe potters about with an agreeable pliancy on its adjustable dampers. The ride quality is comfy and doesn’t feel bone-rattling on road imperfections, and the steering action on the height adjustable wheel is effortless.
Our launch vehicle returned 13.4l/100km when driven politely.
The civil sports car demeanour is let go the instant you bury the throttle into the carpet. It awakens the 3.0l turbocharged six-cylinder engine which is mated to a conventional single-clutch eight-speed automatic transmission instead of the Z4’s quicker changing dual-clutch gearbox.
This variance doesn’t impede the Supra from bulleting down any road, nor prevent the deliciously sonorous engine from filling up the cabin.
It’s equipped with a launch-control mechanism for prolific off-the-line sprints. Toyota claims 4.3 seconds from standstill to 100km/h, 0.2 seconds faster than its German cousin. Top speed is rated at 250km/h.
The accelerative urge from the engine is robust and works well with the infused dynamism of a metal roof and Gazoo Racing tweaked suspension with an active differential. It also has vehicle stability systems, sport brakes and standard fitment 19-inch forged alloys shod with Michelin Super Sports rubber.
Introduce some corners into your fast travels and things get a little interesting. The car is largely fluid, grippy and agile under these conditions but there’s also possibly more wallowing than in the Z4.
At the Supra’s local media launch in Port Elizabeth last week, Dakar hero Giniel De Villiers demonstrated the vehicle under track conditions and showed the car has largely controlled stability and that when provoked, it can effortlessly elicit playful yet progressive sideways action.
Much of what is expected of a modern sports car is found in the new Supra. It remains to be seen whether it can lure customers away from the Porsche 718 Cayman which Toyota says is the main opposition, apart from the Z4.
My initial findings are that the dalliance with BMW has resulted in a sharp and sophisticated sports coupe that you can harmoniously live with on a daily basis. It’s a Toyota that keeps up with some choice performance BMW and Porsches out there.
Toyota GR Supra Track — R953,000
Toyota GR Supra (Prominent Red) — R1,072,300
Toyota GR Supra (Metallic) — R1,082,300
Toyota GR Supra (Matte Grey) — R1,092,300
A four-services/80,000km service plan is provided as well as a three-year/100,000km warranty.