We are not putting the new Toyota Supra though a 40,000-mile long-term test to explore how we feel about it. We already know that it’s quite good and that we like it a lot. To see how deep our respect for this killer two-seater goes, just follow the editorial breadcrumbs that we’ve dropped over the past year or so.
We heaped praise on the Supra the first time we drove it. We thought it was hot enough to pit against the BMW M2, Ford Mustang Shelby GT350, and Porsche 718 Cayman in a comparison test—and then against a BMW Z4 roadster in another shootout. It was so quick in our testing that we strapped it to a chassis dyno to verify its horsepower rating, which turned out to be more than Toyota claimed. We pushed it to the limit in our 2019 Lightning Lap track event, where it impressed. And then we gave it a 10Best award, the highest honor we can bestow on a new vehicle. Now we’re filling in the missing part of the picture: how this brilliant sports car holds up to the daily grind.
There’s a reason for our heightened curiosity about the Supra’s long-term dependability. Toyotas have a reputation for being impossible to kill, but this is not your average Toyota. It’s a mixed breed—part BMW, part Toyota. Toyota leveraged BMW on the Supra project, borrowing what it could from the Z4, much to the dismay of committed fanboys of previous-generation Supras, who wanted the new one to again be pure Toyota.
Whenever two companies with two different engineering cultures attempt to integrate their components and technologies, the door opens to potential glitches. Would this joint-venture car start showing issues somewhere down the figurative and literal road? That’s what we’re going to find out.
Mechanically, the Supra is more BMW than Toyota. Okay, maybe it’s all BMW. Its turbocharged B58 3.0-liter inline-six, ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, electronically controlled limited-slip differential, steering rack, and suspension components are from BMW—the same basic pieces employed in the Z4 M40i. For 2020, Supras are fitted with a 335-hp version of the B58 inline-six, while the Z4 M40i launched with 382 horsepower. For 2021, Supras will get that higher-output engine tune as well.
Inside the Supra’s tomb-dark cabin, you’ll find more BMW gear, including the German company’s electronic shifter, infotainment controls, and audio switches. Toyota was responsible for the Supra’s exterior and interior design, the engineering of its body shell, and how its ride and handling was tuned. But the biggest difference between the two cars is that the Supra is a hatchback and the Z4 only comes as a convertible.
Our Downshift Blue Supra is the mid-grade GR (Gazoo Racing) 3.0 Premium model. Thanks to a full helping of standard comfort and convenience features, it’s as much a grand tourer as it is a sports car. Its goodies include heated, 14-way power-adjustable seats covered in black leather; a head-up display; an 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation; automatic climate control; and a 12-speaker JBL audio system. Pre-collision automatic braking with pedestrian detection and lane-keeping assist are standard. To that we added just one major option: the Driver Assist package, which brings adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert with emergency braking. A carpeted rear cargo mat and wheel locks brought the $54,945 base price to $56,285.
When our car arrived in mid-February, we attempted to fit it with a set of winter tires. It was virtually impossible to find a single source that could provide a matched set of high-performance winters in the Supra’s size—255/35R-19 in front, 275/35R-19 at the rear. Enter Pirelli, who graciously pulled together a special set of Sottozero Serie II’s for us in the correct sizes. “These are the most performance-oriented, street-legal winter tires available,” Pirelli claims. Indeed, the fronts are designed for the Lamborghini Aventador, while the rears are intended for the Aston Martin DB9. Who drives their Lambo or Aston in the snow? We want to meet these people. We ultimately found that, between Tire Rack and Summit Racing, you could piece together a similar set for $1350.
Once set up with the proper footwear for foul midwestern winter weather, we eased the Supra through its 1200-mile break-in period, during which time engine revs are supposed to be kept below 4500 rpm and the vehicle below 100 mph—both surprisingly hard to do in a car this swift. With its factory Michelin Pilot Super Sport summer tires reinstalled for its initial outing at the test track, we once again witnessed performance that puts the Supra in the company of some serious high-performance machinery.
Our 3388-pound test car rocketed to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds and through the quarter mile in 12.2 seconds at 113 mph. It circulated the skidpad at 1.05 g and stopped from 70 mph in 148 feet. Technical editor David Beard reported that it orbited the 300-foot skidpad with its rear end sliding as much as any car he’s ever tested. We experienced the same tail-happy tendency in our previous tests, during flat-out laps at Virginia International Raceway (VIR), and on our favorite on-ramps on the winter tires. It’s part of what makes the Supra feel exciting and on edge when driven hard. But as print director Eric Tingwall said of his laps in the car around VIR, “It can be a bit much.” Toyota revised the Supra’s suspension tuning for 2021, and we look forward to seeing if those changes make its rear end less prone to stepping out.
That particular behavior is something you’ll only see when pushing the Supra to its limits. In normal driving, it’s sweet, encouraging, and fun. It rides well enough to be a long-distance cruiser. It’s agile enough to be fun anytime the road squirms. It’s fast enough to make you laugh every time you nail the throttle. The BMW six-cylinder sounds fantastic. And its weird-science styling garners plenty of attention. In short, the Supra makes you feel good. Now we’ll see if its maintenance requirements and day-to-day livability break that spell or enhance it.
Months in Fleet: 1 month Current Mileage: 1,798 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 23 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 13.7 gal Observed Fuel Range: 310 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $0