What a time to be a Japanese sports car fan. A whole bunch of storied names are available in the US; today you can walk into a dealership and buy a new Acura NSX, Honda Civic Type R, Mazda MX-5 Miata, Nissan GT-R or 370, Subaru BRZ or WRX, and now, once again, a Toyota Supra.
Not unlike when the NSX returned a few years ago, there’s been a huge uproar from die-hard Supra fans about this latest incarnation. The Toyota has been panned for its BMW-sourced platform and drivetrain. And yeah, I could go down a rabbit hole debating if the new Supra is really a Supra since it doesn’t have a Toyota-built foundation and isn’t powered by a successor to the old 2JZ engine. But I’m not going to, because I don’t care. The new Supra is a good sports car, and that’s all that matters.
Styling that draws a crowd
A good sports car needs to look the part, and debatably, the 2020 Supra does. I’m not completely in love with it, but it’s attractive, and definitely distinct. There’s some fourth-generation Supra styling inspiration sprinkled into the front end, and the nose takes cues from Formula 1 racers.
Personally, I find the rear three-quarter angle the best view, the curvy haunches and integrated spoiler harking back to the old Supra. As for the faux hood and door vents, I actually don’t mind them, and take comfort in knowing that they likely will become functional should hotter Supra models launch down the line.
No doubt, the Supra does garner its fair share of attention from people at stoplights and in parking lots. In one instance, it caused a guy walk out of work, hop in his Scion FR-S, and follow me into a parking lot to talk my ear off for 30 minutes on a hot, sunny, sticky day. Rami, if you’re reading this, I hope the T-Mobile store didn’t fire you for that extended break.
The two-seat cabin is another deviation from Supras of old, since those coupes had back seats. The front leather buckets in my Launch Edition tester are comfy and supportive, there’s a surprising amount of headroom, and the 10.2 cubic-feet trunk will easily accommodate a couple of carry-on bags. If there is an annoyance, it’s that the low door openings might cause taller folks to bang their heads when getting in and out.
Tech that looks an awful lot like iDrive
If you don’t like what BMW does with its interiors, you’ll find a lot to gripe about in the Supra. But I do like what BMW does — all the switchgear feels substantial and the general fit-and-finish is great.
BMW’s iDrive system masquerades as Supra Command, managing infotainment with an 8.8-inch touchscreen and central control knob. It does an admirable job running navigation with real-time traffic info, a 12-speaker JBL audio setup, satellite radio and Bluetooth. And since it’s essentially iDrive, it’s Apple CarPlay capable, but Android Auto is absent. To juice up electronics, the Supra Launch Edition comes with a wireless charge pad, USB port and 12-volt outlet at the front of the center console, which is plenty for a two-seater.
The standard active driving assist system, installed on all 2020 Supras, includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, an aggressive lane-keep assist system, automatic high beams and road sign assist. Those who spring for an optional Driver Assist Package will also get adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and parking sensors.
A Japanese spin on German bones
You’ll find more BMW goods under the Supra’s hood, with power coming from a 3.0-liter, turbocharged I6. (Old Supras also used an I6 engine, so that’s cool.) This powerplant makes 335 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque, the latter available between 1,600 and 4,500 rpm for muscular mid-range grunt.
Working with the engine is ZF’s always-excellent eight-speed automatic transmission, which offers a snappy manual shift option if you feel like playing with the paddles. Toyota says the Supra accelerates to 60 miles per hour in 4.1 seconds, which feels entirely believable considering how hard this thing pulls when you dig deep into the throttle. The Supra’s acceleration is accompanied by an angry-sounding exhaust with some lovely crackles and pops.
My apologies to the three-pedal faithful, as the new Supra isn’t available with a manual transmission. Thankfully, the automatic gearbox is really good, but I still can’t help but wonder how much more involving the Supra experience would be with a stick-shift setup.
The Supra’s perfect 50:50 weight distribution and a low center of gravity help give it sharp handling. Adaptive dampers, a torque-vectoring rear differential, Brembo front brakes and 19-inch Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires wrapped around forged wheels are all part of the package, and Toyota says the Supra’s on-road dynamics were tuned separately from the BMW Z4.
This means the Supra actually feels quite distinct on the road. Even in Sport mode, the steering is pretty light, but the car is quick to turn in. There’s some initial lean as the body takes a set at corner entry, before clawing through with a high amount of grip. Overall balance is exceptional, making the Supra a lot more playful than you might expect. If you feel like hanging the back end out, go for it. It’s definitely fun to drive.
For the times you’re not hooning it, keeping the Supra in its Normal mode yields a smooth and relaxed demeanor. Normal mode also helps the Supra return an EPA-estimated 24 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. In this relaxed mode, the steering further lightens and the suspension offers enough give for a reasonably comfortable ride around town. It certainly would be fine for road trips, making the Supra a descent dual-threat runner capable of romping through corners and tackling daily drives.
A legit sports car
I can be a sucker for limited editions and with the 2020 Toyota Supra, I’ll take the bait and spec out a Launch Edition version almost exactly like the test car you see pictured here. It starts at $55,250, not including $955 for destination, and is limited to only 1,500 units.
The only difference is that my car will be painted Absolute Zero white to contrast nicely with the Launch Edition’s red mirror caps and matte black wheels. I’ll also add the $1,195 Driver Assist Package because I like blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. All in, my ideal Supra rings in at a respectable $57,400.
With a starting price of $49,990, the 2020 Toyota Supra occupies an interesting spot in the marketplace. As far as two-seat coupes are concerned, the Supra is more affordable than the Porsche 718 Cayman, though not nearly as enthralling. The Supra is more expensive than the Nissan 370Z, but that’s a car that’s way past its expiration date. In any case, the new Supra is indeed a solid and competent sports car. And it would be a real shame if anyone misses out on it — especially if it’s because of something as silly as using BMW bones.