Toyota GR Supra
SUMMIT POINT, W.V.
— Love cars? Wouldn’t designing a new sports car be fun?
that, building a sports car, I must have the best job in the
world,” says Tetsuya Tada, chief engineer for the 2020 Toyota GR
Supra, on sale since July 22 and the first new Supra in 20 years.
“But that’s the
biggest misconception out there,” he added.
It’s not that Tada
doesn’t like sports cars; he does. But building sports cars has
become difficult due to the never-ending onslaught of regulation.
“It’s raising the bar for a sports car unbelievably right
All automakers must
meet federal government mandates for safety, pedestrian protection,
fuel economy and electric car production. But while all light
vehicles must meet the same regulations, these rules have an outsize
impact on sports cars, adding weight and impacting performance.
Of course, it
wasn’t regulation that led Toyota to unceremoniously axe the Supra
20 years ago; it was poor sales. It’s only since the 1993-99 Supra
became the star car in “The Fast and The Furious” that its
popularity has risen. This proved problematic when it came time to
revive the Supra at the request of company president Akio Toyoda.
Toyota had stopped all sports car development; there were no mentors
for Tada to turn to for reference in the company.
“I really had a
hard time,” Tada admits.
So, he sought out
Takao Kijima, chief engineer for the Mazda MX-5 Miata roadster,
which had been built continuously during the Supra’s hiatus. Tada
assumed that Mazda cared less about the Miata’s profitability than
about the image it lent the company. “No way,” Kijima told Tada,
explaining that sports cars should be profitable; otherwise they
would be dropped when demand did. While Tada understood Kijima’s
logic, there was a problem.
The previous Supra
employed the Lexus SC300’s platform and 3.0-liter inline six.
Using a Lexus platform would impact profitability. And using an
inline six, an engine with all six cylinders lined up in a row, was
considered a key part of the Supra’s personality, but Toyota no
longer built one. Only one automaker did: BMW. Given the need to
make the new Supra profitable, co-developing the car with BMW made
As a result, it’s
hardly surprising that the 2020 GR Supra (GR stands for Gazoo
Racing, Toyota’s racing team) shares its major components with the
2020 BMW Z4, saving the automakers money since both models sell in
low numbers. And if you think the GR Supra is not a pure Toyota,
Tada argues that the consolidation of global automotive suppliers
has led many automakers to use the same components from the same
companies. That’s why the 2020 GR Supra is built by Magna Steyr in
Austria using BMW’s 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six routed
through a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels.
Bavarian bloodlines is easy once you’re behind the wheel, as the
Supra effortlessly drifts through corners, its steering and chassis
working with a remarkable precision. Making all the right moves, the
GR Supra returns a 0-60 mph time of 4.1 seconds on the way to an
electronically limited top track speed of 155 mph. If that isn’t
fast or furious enough for you, Toyota engineers have made
provisions throughout the car for tuners to work their magic. On
public roads, the Supra’s ride is as firm as you’d expect it,
providing a track-like driving experience off-track.
The Supra’s cozy
cabin offers enough room for two, with the rear hatchback allowing
for easy cargo access for weekend getaways. Thankfully, the car’s
sinister curvaceous lines include a double bubble roof, which
provides adequate headroom. And if the software and switchgear seem
a little too Bavarian, one glance at the Supra’s shape will remind
you of its country of origin.
Once Toyota sells all
1,500 Launch Editions, the Supra will be offered in ascending 3.0
and 3.0 Premium trim. Base models include keyless entry, dual
automatic climate control, auto-dimming rearview mirrors, rear
camera, rain sensing windshield wipers, garage door opener, power
folding mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a 6.5-inch
infotainment screen with Bluetooth and iPod capability. Navigation
and a JBL audio system are optional. The 3.0 Premium model gets a
larger 8.8-inch touchscreen display with navigation, telematics
services, Apple CarPlay, premium 12-speaker JBL audio system,
wireless phone charging, a color Head-Up Display and heated,
leather-trimmed seats. The Driver Assist Package, optional on both
grades, includes full-speed dynamic radar cruise control, blind spot
monitor, rear cross traffic alert and parking sensors.
So, let’s applaud
that 20 years after being dropped, the Supra is back, albeit
But that’s how it
should be, Tada says. “Right now, it’s a totally different
world. Everything had to be reset. And it had to be applicable to
today’s norms and today’s new standards and then we had to
rethink, what is the Supra now, today? What does it mean?”
It means that out of
the box, the 2020 Toyota GR Supra is a pure, delightfully
entertaining, fun-to-drive sports car, something that has been
lacking in Toyota’s line-up for far too long.
Welcome back, mein
2020 Toyota GR Supra
turbocharged inline six-cylinder
0-60 mph: 4.1 seconds
EPA fuel economy
(city/highway): 24/31 mpg
Ground clearance: 4.5
Cargo capacity: 10.2
Curb weight: 3,397