Toyota Supra Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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BBC TopGear
Car Review

Toyota Supra

£ 45,400 - £ 53,415
710
Published: 05 Feb 2021
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

It’s really good to drive. Cue relief. It’s crisp, responsive, well connected, confidence-inspiring and quick. If you’re considering a Porsche 718 Cayman, then you really should drive a Toyota Supra.

But it’s not all completely successful, so let’s start there. The eight-speed automatic just about passes muster as a sports transmission, but it’s a close-run thing. Requested paddle downshifts can be a fraction delayed, upshifts can surge.

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Similarly, the engine: plenty of mid-range shove, but not much point venturing beyond 5,500rpm. Nor that much further before the auto change up point at 6,500rpm, either. The brakes (vented, but not cross-drilled, no ceramic option) do fade, and could be more precise underfoot.

But the good stuff dominates. Here is a car that’s really well connected. The front wheels unfailingly go where you aim them, and the rear axle is communicative and well supported. What this means is that the Supra moves into corners well, and it gets out of them well, too. Actual steering feel? Not really, but the steering set-up – especially in Sport (that or Normal are your only choices) – is lovely, well weighted and responsive. It's too light in Normal. Turn-in is positive, roll very well contained, and it feels agile, almost as if it has four-wheel steering (it doesn’t) thanks to the short 2.5m wheelbase.

It’s friendly over a wide range – you can choose to brake deep into an apex, or you can go in gently and power out. Nothing much flusters it. It doesn’t succumb suddenly to either understeer or oversteer, because there’s enough information coming to you that you’re already on top of the situation. In the dry, at least; it can be friskier in the wet.

If you do choose to, erm, exploit the edges of the performance envelope, you’ll be glad to hear it settles into oversteer with aplomb, has enough power to perform in third gear, enough lock to save most blushes.

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On to more relevant things. It rides calmly. This is surprising. Given the Supra’s accuracy you’d imagine it to be potentially brittle, but actually it flows along, relatively undistracted by lumps and bumps. Each wheel is very well controlled. Nor is NVH an issue. You could easily imagine settling in for a long trip. It’s certainly quieter on the road than a Cayman, more settled than a BMW M2 Competition, if not as deft as an Alpine A110.

Which brings us on to weight. It’s not Alpine-light obviously, but it’s more agile than the 1,495kg kerbweight would suggest. And before you ask, it’s 115kg lighter than the equivalent Z4, the 1,610kg M40i.

OK, that’s got that out the way. Taken in isolation and ignoring lurking elephants, the Supra is great to drive. But it doesn’t half feel like a BMW. It’s the engine that does it. Toyota claims to have worked on the torque characteristics and so on, but the noise, the feel, the interaction is pure BMW. Engines are often what we fall in love with and Japanese straight sixes have a reputation to uphold, the old Supras 2JZ unit especially.

What price individuality? If you’ve never driven a recent BMW turbo – or something Japanese with a straight six – you’ll take this motor at face value and enjoy it (the Supra’s certainly not short of pace), but if you care about the back story or have driven a 335i, I think you’re going to feel puzzled.

And this complex gestation has another victim: charisma. Great cars are often great because they’re flawed or highly individual, but the Supra feels confused – part German, part Japanese, not quite knowing what it is. A feeling the 2.0-litre four-cyl version only exacerbates, though let it be said it's actually the sharper car to drive. A smaller engine means it's 100kg lighter, and every dynamic facet - steering, composure, braking - benefits as a result. It's the best Supra if you simply seek a sports car. But you might have already knocked on Porsche or Alpine's door if that's the case.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

Toyota Supra 2.0 Pro 3dr Auto
  • 0-625.2s
  • CO2
  • BHP254
  • MPG
  • Price£ 45,400

the cheapest

Toyota Supra 2.0 Pro 3dr Auto
  • 0-625.2s
  • CO2
  • BHP254
  • MPG
  • Price£ 45,400
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