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Driven: Toyota Supra GR. Image by Toyota UK.

Driven: Toyota Supra GR
Ignore the internet furore and instead focus on the fact the Mk5 Toyota Supra is chuffing mega.


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Toyota Supra GR

5 5 5 5 5

Good points: the looks, the interior, the noise, the pace, the handling, the refinement, the whole Supra legend, the spectacular judgment of this as a road-going performance car

Not so good: it costs more than 50k

Key Facts

Model tested: Toyota Supra GR
Price: Supra GR from 54,000, car as tested 54,710
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: two-door coupe
CO2 emissions: 170g/km (VED Band 151-170: 530 in year one, then 465 per annum years two-six of ownership, then 145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 34.5mpg
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
0-62mph: 4.3 seconds
Power: 340hp at 5,000-6,500rpm
Torque: 500Nm at 1,600-4,500rpm
Boot space: 290 litres

Our view:

I don't know if you're aware, and if you're not then you must have been living under a particularly remote rock somewhere, but there's been a bit of a... fuss about the whole Toyota-BMW bedfellows thing that resulted in the third-generation Z4 and this fifth-generation Supra. Seems quite a lot of people are most miffed that Toyota should deign to dirty itself by sleeping with the Germans, as if - somehow - BMW is a company which has a long and storied past in churning out dynamic dreck.

Which it isn't, of course. In fact, it's the polar opposite. Indeed, if you'd asked us a few years back, before we fully knew about the Toyota-BMW tie-up, which car company Toyota ought to approach in order to get an 'A90' Supra Mk5 collaboration off the ground, we'd have said BMW like a shot. Not, though, that this will placate the loons of Interwebville, who are sounding off about this, big style. It would seem much of the opprobrium is being generated in the States, where BMWs have a less-than-stellar reputation for engine reliability, but we'd politely inform our American cousins that, stupid fragile S85 V10 in the E60/1 M5s aside, BMW has no such dependability issues on the 'Old Continent', as we don't have crappy, high-sulphur-content petrol... sorry, gasoline over here, and so Beemers are not known for having their engines explode with any great regularity. The S54 from the E46 M3, for example, is not known as the 'Engine of Damocles' this side of The Pond, where we just so happened to put the right grade of motor oil in it, but is instead (rightly) revered as one of the finest straight-six, normally aspirated powerplants of all time. Ahem. But we digress.

This still won't shut up the naysayers. And nor will reminding them of this pertinent fact: as much as the previous generations of Toyota Supra, especially the last-of-the-original-line A80 (1993-2002), have passed into motoring folklore thanks to their aftermarket exploits, the Gran Turismo series of PlayStation games and perhaps also the Fast And Furious film franchise, they weren't actually that brilliant out of the factory. OK, that's quite unfair on the A80 itself, which was leagues ahead of its three predecessors in terms of its technical attention to detail and general excellence, but even it didn't exactly walk every contemporary group test it competed in, nor did it generate astonishing commercial success over here; the slowing sales of coupes had already started in the 1990s and the conversion rate of Yen to GBP made the Supra prohibitively expensive. Put it this way: even a staunch Toyota fan would not say the A80 was some kind of legendary game-changer when it first appeared. It was very, very good, but seminal? Nah.

However, if you have a mental image of a 2JZ-GTE A80 running about 1,000hp at the crank and a rear wing the size of Kent, then no amount of defence of Toyota's 2019 creation is going to work. And that's a shame... for people who are blinkered. Because, while I'm not about to assert that the A90 (it's actually called the J29, officially, to tie it in with the G29 Z4, but come on; it's the A90, isn't it?) is itself particularly groundbreaking, it is nevertheless a bloody brilliant sports car and a most worthwhile revival of the Supra name.

It is everything you could hope for a compact, two-seat, rear-drive, big-engined coupe to be. Having driven the superb GT86 many times during its life, and always wondered just what it might be with more power if only you could assure yourself of retaining its sublime handling, that's exactly what the Supra Mk5 feels like: the GT86's big brother, who has religiously been to the gym and is in tremendous physical shape. It's precisely as unhinged as you want it to be for a road car, without being too extreme or notably compromised in any single department. It's one of my favourite cars of 2019. And of many a recent year, come to think of it.

Before I get onto the dynamic meat of this review, mention of the GT86 is perhaps a timely reminder to those still carping on about the BMW content of the A90 that the smaller rear-drive Toyota coupe was born out of a joint project with Subaru, which manufactures the same car as the GT86 under the BRZ moniker. And with those two, there's barely any difference betwixt BRZ and GT86 at all, whereas at least the Supra doesn't look anything like a Z4; this, believe me, is a Very Good Thing. And Toyota has more joint projects in its back catalogue: it might not be the most convincing argument here, but off the top of my head there's the Aygo, which is just a Citroen C1 or Peugeot 108 by any other name. Legends, all of them. Ahem.

Anyway, automotive joint ventures are simply an inevitable fact of life, and the Supra is one of the greatest results of such schemes we can think of. As mentioned, it looks tremendous. Maybe not quite as arresting as the FT-1 Concept which previewed its appearance, but still beautifully muscular and taut and proportional. The fake vents all over it don't bother me either, as they're supposedly there to be removed for those that modify the car later in its life (now that is cool), and then you climb into the cabin and you're sitting in just the right place: low down, ensconced by the main controls, bum over the rear axle and that long, swooping nose dropping away in front of you.

Also, big surprise this, but the Supra has a better interior than the Z4. The graphics of the instrument pack are nicer and vaguely reminiscent of Toyota's luxo-version Supra equivalent, the mesmerising Lexus LC 500. The steering wheel, while obviously a BMW item with a Toyota-logoed boss, nevertheless is not identical to the overstuffed one found in the German roadster as it has a thinner rim, and so is more pleasant to hold and operate than the M40i's fat affair. And complaining about the iDrive-based infotainment in a Toyota, a brand which hasn't done a class-leading in-car sound-and-tech control system yet, is like complaining that all the clocks in the world are rubbish because they're predicated on the same basic mechanical design. Basically, when you've got a technology that works beautifully, why even try buggering about with it and messing it up as a result?

But it's the drive which makes the Supra such a wonderful sports car. It is heavily road-biased, this GR spec leaving plenty of headroom for a harder, more focused GRMN, but that's the beauty of the Toyota: like the sensational Alpine A110, another vaunted machine of history reborn with some rather prosaic (Renault) parts, the Supra offers a softer touch to the process of going fast and it is all the better for it.

It's not delicate and lithe to drive like the A110 and a Porsche 718 Cayman, instead preferring a slightly older-school approach of brawny front-engined, rear-drive fun, but to suggest it's a bit of blunt weapon is to dismiss its excellent steering, the epic balance of its chassis, the ease with which it will slide its rear end without feeling spiky, the strength of that 3.0-litre turbocharged six-pot engine pushing a reasonably small shell about the place, the magnificent judgment and bite of its eight-speed gearbox and powerful brakes... it is just a phenomenal thing to chuck around on your favourite roads. Biddable, progressive, friendly, involving, enjoyable; it's all of these things and more. And the engine is not dull, either - the B58 isn't one of BMW's greatest-ever inline-sixes, but then Honky Tonk Women isn't one of the Stones' finest singles, yet it's still a brilliant tune by the standards of all the music that's ever been recorded. Ditto the B58.

Most marvellously of all, the Supra works fantastically well on the flipside of the coin, having deeply impressive levels of refinement and a suitably comfortable ride. It'll burr around easily and smoothly with all the graceful manners of a properly premium conveyance if you want it to, as evinced by my best fuel return of 34.4mpg on a rural A-road, but then when you need it to transform into its wilder side, it is happy to do so; perhaps why I almost emptied its tank in 195 miles of enthusiastic driving at a rather more profligate 21.8mpg.

Is there anything about it I don't like? Well... no. Not really. I mean, it's perhaps sad that it's well beyond 50,000 basic, but two things here: one, when most hot hatchbacks these days are 30 grand and more, this is the going rate for a 340hp RWD sports car in the 2020s; and two, there's a four-cylinder Supra with a 258hp mill on the way for those who'd like some of the car's character at a lower purchase price. However, not even having driven this entry-level Supra, I'd say stick to your guns and get the six-cylinder version of the Toyota.

Because it's an absolute bloody gem of a machine. It's just right for a fast road car, special enough to merit sacrificing the practicality of a modern mega-power hot hatch in favour of its dynamic charms, plush enough and rewarding enough to justify that windscreen sticker, glorious to look at, fabulous to sit in. It is a beefed-up GT86 with an inline-six and just as playful a chassis. And really, how much more of a compliment can we pay the Supra than that? So ignore the BMW whingers. Ignore the idea of a tuned A80 festooned in lurid graphics and dayglo paint. Don't get hung up on history. And instead revel in the return of Toyota's iconic sports car, only rendered this time to the highest possible standard straight from the factory. It's the most super Supra yet, I reckon.


BMW Z4 M40i: well, we had to, didn't we? It's the same car, more or less, but we prefer the Toyota's interior treatment, its looks and its handling. Z4 is still ace, though.

Jaguar F-Type V6: you'll need to move fast if you want a V6-powered F-Type, as Jag is dropping them (in the UK) for the 2020MY facelift. Jaguar has great looks, but a heavy chassis.

Porsche 718 Cayman S: Porsche will somewhat regain the upper hand here when the GTS 4.0 comes out soon, but the 350hp S is lots of fun to drive, yet it sounds drab.

Matt Robinson - 19 Dec 2019    - Toyota road tests
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- Supra images

2019 Toyota Supra GR UK test. Image by Toyota UK.2019 Toyota Supra GR UK test. Image by Toyota UK.2019 Toyota Supra GR UK test. Image by Toyota UK.2019 Toyota Supra GR UK test. Image by Toyota UK.2019 Toyota Supra GR UK test. Image by Toyota UK.

2019 Toyota Supra GR UK test. Image by Toyota UK.2019 Toyota Supra GR UK test. Image by Toyota UK.2019 Toyota Supra GR UK test. Image by Toyota UK.2019 Toyota Supra GR UK test. Image by Toyota UK.2019 Toyota Supra GR UK test. Image by Toyota UK.


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