When the 2020 Toyota GR Supra debuted, there were high, high hopes. With near-breathless anticipation automotive journalists lined up to get behind the wheel at the launch in Virginia last year. One by one drivers took to the track, weaving the car over hill and dale.
On the track, the model was a delight. Sure, it wasn’t supercar level fantastic, but it fit the bill as a speedy sports coupe. Off the track, however, was another story. It was on Virginia’s’ rural roads where the model showed its worst characteristics. Its swooping hood and invasive A-pillars severely limit its outward visibility. Sure it had a good growl from the back side and engaging enough handling, but that’s not all the things sports car dreams are made of, least of all Supra dreams.
The car rides on standard 19-inch wheels.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.
Were expectations too high? Did the Supra do what it needed to? It was a conflict not just answered by one day behind the wheel. Finally, about a year after that first ride, the Supra was available for a longer term test.
It was during this test that the model’s pain points proved even more problematic.
Getting in and out of the Supra is a chore. That’s not totally unexpected, but it is a bit weird how uncomfortable the operation is given that the Lexus LC isn’t nearly as problematic nor is an Acura NSX. The roof is low, even for a sports coupe, and its seating position is high. It’s easy to see how drivers over six feet tall would be leave the dealer lot disappointed.
The back of the car features a unique design that’s instantly recognizable as being part of the Supra.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.
The car’s engine is powerful, but the throttle is easy to control. Its twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 delivers 335 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque and it does okay on fuel – 26 mpg combined according to the EPA.
The interior of the model is nothing special. It’s not particularly tech-heavy nor is it styled with nods to the Supras of the past. It’s shifter is depressingly wand-like and its console looks like a mixture of bits and bobs from the BMW and Toyota parts bins. Supra was designed alongside the BMW Z4.
The car gets stares, honks, and waves as you drive it. The general public is excited to see a new Supra on the road. Immediately co-workers, friends, and relatives want to take a peek. “How does it drive?” they ask. The same answer inevitably kept coming out, “I mean, it’s fine. It’s a sports car.”
Then they’d ask how much the tires cost. For the record, the Michelin Pilot Super Sports will set you back upwards of $250 each.
The interior of the car varies from the BMW Z4, its development twin, but it’s rather status quo for both automakers.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.
Mile after mile, was hard to muster much more enthusiasm. The Supra is just fine. It all works as advertised (strong brakes, lithe steering, easy drivability) but it’s not the one I’d spend my $55,000 on. The Supra isn’t better than a Ford Mustang. It’s different. The same rule applies to the other sports coupes – Dodge Challenger, Infiniti Q60, Lexus RC, Toyota 86, Subaru BRZ, and a whole host of luxury models.
It doesn’t feel unique enough or different enough from the crowd to be special and that’s sad.
But, what the Supra does have, is the ability to be tuned, modded, and amped up to a “Fast and Furious“-like degree. Toyota engineers actually made provisions in the car’s design for that to make it easier for upfitters. But, the point remains. Right from the dealer, it doesn’t feel Supra special.