A turbo four-pot stirs the 2021 Supra.
The Toyota GR Supra is a sports car of legendary pedigree, arriving on the scene in the late 1970s as a performance variant of the heralded Toyota Celica. Over subsequent generations, the Supra became a dedicated model line and stood for all things Toyota performance.
Though it was canceled in 2002, a resurrected Supra is back thanks to a chassis, powertrain, and interior borrowed from BMW. For 2021, the Supra receives a pair of performance changes that bring more power and improved affordability for this sexy two-seater.
2021 Toyota Supra
Toyota got an early jump on the 2021 model year by making a few noteworthy improvements for the GR Supra. Incidentally, the GR part of the name stands for Gazoo Racing or garage racing. The GR appellation comes from Akio Toyoda, the company’s current president whose own pedigree includes developing and driving race cars.
In its first year, the Supra offered one powertrain choice: a 3.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged six-cylinder engine paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Sadly, no manual gearbox was offered in 2020 and again in 2021. But the good news is that the six-cylinder engine benefits from a significant performance boost and now makes 382 horsepower, up from 335. Its torque is up slightly too from 365 to 368 pound-feet. Thus, the engine has improved off-the-mark acceleration and passing power.
For 2021, the Supra gains a second engine, this one a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. The reduction in power is apparent, but it has no impact on drivability. In other words, the current Supra in any form remains a blast to drive.
With a smaller base engine, the 2021 Supra starts at $42,900, plus a $955 destination charge. That’s $7,000 less than last year’s base price, but also reflects a few content changes, including the loss of the electronic rear differential, smaller wheels, different headlights, standard manual-controlled seats, and a four-speaker audio system. The previously standard six-cylinder model has power-controlled front seats, a six-speaker audio system, LED headlights, and active dampers.
On the Road
With a one-third drop in power, the new base engine is noticeably slower than the now optional six-cylinder. But it is far from lazy – it goes from 0-60 mph in 5 seconds or just 1.1 seconds behind the inline-six.
Start the ignition, engage the transmission, and press down on the gas pedal and the Supra moves forward with authority. This year, Toyota made several significant changes to enhance drivability by improving the steering and the suspension. These changes, along with removing the active rear differential and reducing the vehicle’s weight, benefit the Supra enormously.
Indeed, when driven on the back roads of Chatham County, North Carolina, my ride partner and I gauged just how effective the Supra is when pressed to the limits. In particular, as we picked up speed, this sports car proved its mettle by staying centered on every twist of the road and hunkering down when entering and leaving corners.
Surprisingly to us, the engine never complained when pushed to its limits. The transmission seamlessly responded by delivering the right gear for the moment. For optimum engagement, we recommend using the shift paddles to extend those shift points a bit longer.
The four-cylinder doesn’t match the deep tone of the inline-six, but its purr turns to a snarl when beckoned. Adroit handling, big brakes, and an exhaust system that sings as backpressure is released are other points of note.
Clearly, the Toyota GR Supra is a BMW Z4 with its own skin. That point does disappoint some enthusiasts, while receiving praise from others, including this writer.
The cost factor for developing a new model alone was likely not justifiable. Instead, Toyota turned to BMW, contributed development funds, and brought in a dedicated body shell to give us this stellar model.
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