A brand new Supra has been on wish lists of enthusiasts ever since the A80’s production run ended almost two decades ago. Well, the good news is that the iconic nameplate has returned for round five but you can’t just thank Toyota for this all-new generation as BMW has played a massive role too, but due to the interference from Germany, some fans of the marque feel a tad perturbed with the new A90 and view the new sportscar as a Z4 in drag. Should they really be feeling aggrieved when it looks as aggressive as it does and packs a powerful turbocharged inline six-cylinder with a front engine/rear-wheel drive layout — core elements that Supras have incorporated since the late Seventies?
Starting with the new car’s aesthetics, inspired by the FT-1 concept, it sure looks attractive; the front end comes with squinty headlight housings with two more LED lights inside them than the Bugatti Chiron can manage for a total of six (and there’s space for daytime running lights too) with the bumper packing three huge intakes that are divided by sharp aero blades. With a long bonnet line, (double-bubble) coupe roof and a short deck it has classic sportscar proportions — but those rear fender flares... My oh my are they voluptuous. Residing beneath those muscular arches are a set of 19in alloys and there are several vents and more intakes all over the stylish exterior. Disappointingly though, most of them are not fully functional, they’re just for show. Around the back and on the edge of the hatch you’ll find an upturned spoiler that Toyota says is supposed to be a nod to that of the A80’s hoop-style version (use your imagination...) while the thin taillights and diffuser sporting two round exhaust tips rounds off the new car’s purposeful look. Dimensionally, it is a wide, low, sporty compact and you may be taken by surprise by how small it actually is in the flesh; it’s wheelbase is 4in smaller than the diminutive Toyota 86 (and the same as the Z4). But, the Supra is 3in wider improving its wheelbase-to-track width ratio. So far so good but the doubters may have a point about the cabin...
As you know, the new Supra was developed in a cooperative venture between Toyota and BMW and if you were wondering just how much DNA can be found from Germany, the answer is plenty — particularly inside and it literally jumps out at you. The cabin is almost identical to the Z4’s with Toyota borrowing the automatic gearbox selector, sport mode button and console, electric parking brake button and rotary knob for the iDrive infotainment system from the Bavarians. Even around the steering, the buttons on the wheel prongs are exactly like the old 1- and 3-Series — and, come to think of it, the wheel itself might be a BMW part for Toyota’s smothered it with red leather trim. Is that an attempt to disguise it? It sure looks like it. And they could have done a better job with the paddle shifters, that’s for sure — they’re tiny and you need very long fingers to access them. There’s more; the door handles, rear view mirror and throttle and brake pedals are pinched from the Z4. Strangely, even though all the good bits are from BMW the Supra does not match its overall quality. There is room for improvement here.
However, the thing that offends Supra enthusiasts the most is the fact their new sportscar’s heart has also been donated by their new friends but if they were considering a 2JZ swap they had better put such ideas on the back burner because the BMW-sourced B58 3.0-litre is the best thing about this car. With it being a turbocharged inline-six, the Supra’s lineage lives on, and thanks to Toyota’s in-house engineering development with GAZOO Racing — ‘GR’ part of the car’s name (and Akio Toyoda himself being hands-on with the Supra’s tuning) — it feels pretty healthy by giving you immediate power when you floor the throttle, lots of low-end torque and displays an eagerness even when you are already doing high speeds. It produces 335 horses and 500Nm of torque and is mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic which directs the grunt to the rear. It can despatch the 0-100kph sprint in 4.3 seconds and its top speed has been restrained to 250kph. So, the drivetrain is solid and you won’t doubt Toyota’s insistence that the Supra’s handling characteristics are unique because it is ever so quick to turn in and a blast to drive fast on twisty roads. Assisting the razor sharp handling is the variable electric steering, a perfect 50:50 weight distribution, low centre of gravity and that tiny wheelbase. It also gets adaptive dampers, a torque-vectoring rear differential and Brembo brakes up front.
It may not be a direct descendent to the iconic Mark IV but it’s still a brilliant sportscar. If purists end up shunning it due to its Z4 bones, well, it’ll be their loss. Welcome back old friend, we sure have missed you.