The return of an iconic model in the Toyota line-up sets expectations stratospherically high for the new Supra.
Nissan managed it with the reincarnation of the GTR of course; conversely both Peugeot and VW floundered for successive generations with the GTI at one point or another, though they did get there in the end.
What’s worse, we know this new Toyota Supra is Kaiser Soze. By that I mean we all know the spoilers, and I’ve already been asked did I see the BMW labels on the wiper motors or some such other nonsense.
With all this baggage out of the gate it’s difficult to be subjective, so as much as possible I will attempt to socially distance myself from this noise and take things on merit alone.
Having lost its way with sports cars for the last decade at least, Toyota has held onto some of its customer base with the GT86. However, those GT4 Celica, or previous generation Supra owners have moved elsewhere.
Toyota lost that once youthful, will always be a boy racer customer, focussing instead on hybrid’s and family cars. Rightly so, of course, as that’s what makes the Japanese firms coin. But with an abundance of ongoing racing and rallying pedigree, Toyota lacked a large piece of their road car puzzle.
Finding the missing puzzle piece was done a couple of years ago, when Toyota launched a two-seater, rear driven, turbocharged petrol sports car. In the age of electrification and automation, this is a very good thing indeed. The puzzle is now complete.
Priced from £53,495 for a GR model equipped with a 6-speed manual gearbox, you get 19-inch alloy wheels, active sports differential, adaptive cruise control with full stop & start functionality, rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitor to name just a few highlights.
There is a GR Pro model, as tested equipped with the 8-speed automatic gearbox, which starts from £57,495 and adds heated seats, LED Dual-beam Projector headlamps, Head Up display and a 12-speaker JBL premium sound system and wireless mobile phone charging ability.
The Mk5 Toyota Gazoo Racing (GR) Supra tested and pictured is finished in Prominence Red which perfectly suits this striking car, with its large front haunches and dramatic bulbous profile.
Although there is a passing resemblance to the Mk4 supra, where the headlights meet the nose on the front end, the greatest homage is the fantastic boot hatch hump, a nod to the 90’s icon. I can almost forgive the fake wheel arch vents.
Climb aboard and it’s clear that you are flying BMW business class. To be clear, that’s no bad thing as the Munich derived office is comfortable, feature packed and intuitive. Just maybe a bit too familiar with switchgear lifted wholesale from the BMW parts department.
Visibility for a fairly small glasshouse was very good; the only caveat the over-shoulder C-pillar area which you soon learn to take account for. The GR Supra is a two door hatch, and surprisingly there’s no firewall between seats and load area.
Great for squeezing in golf clubs or hearing the thud of the excellent JBL sound system, but otherwise it’s a chamber for road noise. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fairly quiet in there at motorway speeds, but I’ve no doubt separating the compartments would make it even easier on the ears.
The good news is when the GR Supra is in sport mode and the taps open, the B58 3.0-litre turbocharged 6-cylinder engine sounds fantastic. Sonorous, responsive and lively it feels more than the 340bhp quoted and is perfectly matched with the now ubiquitous and utterly brilliant ZF 8-speed auto ‘box.
Firmly sprung, I can feel the tyre wall having to deal with B-road imperfections. There’s an abundance of grip from the Michelin Pilot Super Sports and with the steering in sport mode the EPAS weight seemed well judged. I had no problem placing the Supra where I wanted it to be and felt confident to push on early doors.
Weighing in at nearly 1,600kg however, the Toyota is no lightweight – the same as an F80 M3 (but thankfully it sounds a lot better). It’s frisky and very enjoyable performance feels more at home being a GT car that occasionally gets 9/10ths thrown at it.
Quick, but not silly quick. If you are on the fence about the new Supra’s daily driving capabilities, be in no fear, it is perfectly suited. In fact I suspect over 30mpg is perfectly possible in normal driving.
There it is. I’ve tried to be objective. Now here’s how I felt. Great. Ruddy great. I couldn’t give a fiddler’s about the BMW bits other than at worst they are functional and at best make the GR Supra great.
It looks and feels special, though not special enough to be much more than a daily driver and occasional track day partaker. There’s the spirit of the ’90’s icon in there, and you really can enjoy the performance of the car. When you want to retreat into commuting, shopping and podcasts it can just as easily mould itself into those roles.
It has inspired several conversations by fellow petrol-heads, like all great cars do – that’s to be celebrated in itself. Toyota’s GR Supra is a no-fuss license loser.
If you want to beat the waiting list for a new model, as well as receive a massive saving, then get yourself over to Curtis Toyota in Ballymena for this ‘As New’ fully warranted model tested and pictured, which has less than 600 miles on the clock – https://www.usedcarsni.com/2021-Toyota-Supra-305539309
Words & Photos: GRAHAM BAALHAM-CURRY
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