Toyota Supra GR — Sports car excitement photo

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The Toyota Supra is back in dealerships 21 years after the previous Supra left the automotive scene. It returns for 2020 with new shapely sheetmetal and with considerable help from BMW. You read that right. There's a lot of the German Ultimate Driving Machine — seen and unseen — in the Supra GR. And that's a good thing.

The one aspect of the two-seater that is 100-percent Toyota is the styling. It's a stupefying collection of curves, creases, and body moldings. But somehow it seems to work — especially seen in person where its proportions with its long hood and short rear are eye-catching. We know firsthand because we caught the eye of at least a dozen people during our time behind the wheel, most of whom thought the Supra was a real looker.

Shortly after securing the keys to the Renaissance Red Supra and once behind the wheel we were struck with the familiarity of the interior. And no wonder. The switchgear and infotainment system were taken directly from the BMW parts bin. It's a rather strange sensation sitting in a Toyota that appears to be a BMW.

It's not just the interior. The heart and soul of a BMW resides beneath the surface in the form of a turbocharged straight six-cylinder engine. The 3.0-liter engine makes 335 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 365 foot-pounds of torque beginning at 1,600 rpm running through a shiftable eight-speed automatic transmission.

The Supra GR shares its components with the new BMW Z4 convertible, and both sports cars are built in the same assembly plant in Graz, Austria.

Locate a deserted winding road or a race track and you will find the newest Toyota a hoot to drive hard and fast. It's a well-balanced machine that is easily controllable making it a great weekend companion for even the most novice driver. It has muscle car acceleration and a willingness to take corners at speeds that would be unsafe in many sports cars.

One of MotorwayAmerica's writers recently spent some time behind the wheel of the new Supra Launch Edition on the track of Bondurant High Performance Driving School in Arizona. He found it one of the most sensational and gripping vehicles he's ever had the pleasure of driving.

"Right from the start, entering the track, one gets the sense the Supra is special. Acceleration is impressive, the 365 lb-ft of torque fully engages at just 1,600 rpm, delivering the sonorous sound of power that forcefully pushes deep into the heavily bolstered bucket seats.

"Paddle shifters behind the steering wheel deliver seamless, lightening quick shifts when desired, while keeping hands firmly in the 9 and 3 o’clock positions on the steering wheel. Super sticky 255/35R19 front, and even larger 275/35R19 rear, Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires deliver superb handling. Toyota’s Gazoo Racing suspension and a perfect 50/50 front/rear balance lets Supra surgically carve the adrenaline-filled, 11-turn, precision Grand Prix road racing track. Huge Brembo brakes handle the heavy snubs with zero fade."

The six-cylinder Supra has been clocked from 0-to-60 in 4.0 seconds and in a quarter mile in 12.2 seconds @ 113 mph. These are serious numbers that compete with such vaunted sports cars as the Porsche Cayman GTS and BMW M2 Competition.

The Supra is a surprisingly well-priced sports car starting at $50,945 that can be immense fun on weekend jaunts along winding mountain roads as well as more mundane trips back and forth from work.

The Supra GR — GR stands for Gazoo Racing (Toyota's performance partner) — comes in three trim levels — base 3.0, Premium and Launch Edition. The Launch Edition is limited to the first 1,500 Supras to arrive in the U.S. and gets a commemorative plaque set in Carbon-fiber trim, and red leather upholstery.

The base car is loaded with features including adaptive suspension dampers, dual-zone climate control, simulated suede upholstery, power seats, 10-speaker audio system, frontal collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist and LED headlights.

We recommend the Premium trim that adds navigation, a JBL 12-speaker audio system, an 8.8-inch touchscreen, and wireless Apple CarPlay for $54,945. And we think the Driver Assist Package is well worth the $1,195 charge. It includes dynamic radar cruise control, blindspot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert and parking sensors with emerg
ency brake function.

Toyota will introduce a 4-cylinder version for the 2021 model year. Called the 2.0, it comes with a 255-horsepower turbocharged four cylinder that delivers 195 pound-feet of torque. Toyota projects a time of 5.0 seconds from 0-to-60. Prices have not yet been announced. The Supra 2.0 should start arriving in showrooms this summer.

Our 3.0 Premium test car with the Driver Assist Package carried a bottom line of $56,220 including destination charge.

There’s a lot to like about the new Supra, from its brazen in-your-face-styling to its heart-pounding driving excitement. It’s a car that begs to be driven and you won’t be disappointed when you do.

2020 Toyota Supra GR

Base price: $50,945; as driven, $56,220
Horsepower: 335 @ 5,000 rpm
Torque: 365 foot-pounds @ 1,600 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: rear wheel
Seating: 2
Wheelbase: 97.2 inches
Length: 172.5 inches
Curb weight: 3,397 pounds
Turning circle: 34.7 feet
Cargo capacity: 10.2 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 13.7 gallons (premium)
EPA ratings: 24 city, 31 highway, 26 combined
0-60: 4.0 seconds (manufacturer)
Also consider: Porsche Cayman, BMW M2 Competition, Ford Shelby GT350

The Good
• Powerful 6-cylinder engine
• Excellent handling
• Great bang for the buck

The Bad
• Little storage up front

The Ugly
• Too much BMW in the cabin