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Driven: Toyota GR Supra 2.0. Image by Toyota.

Driven: Toyota GR Supra 2.0
A cracking effort from Toyota but it cannot be denied that the GR Supra has lost something in this downsizing experiment.

   



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Toyota GR Supra 2.0 Pro

4 4 4 4 4

Good points: looks every bit as good outside and in as the 3.0-litre model, still drives well, still goes blinkin' fast

Not so good: it doesn't feel anything like as sweetly resolved nor as thoroughly special as the 3.0-litre, and the price gap between the two models isn't quite big enough to merit picking the four-pot

Key Facts

Model tested: Toyota GR Supra 2.0 Pro
Price: GR Supra range from 46,010 for Pro, car as tested 46,720
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: eight-speed ZF automatic, rear-wheel drive with active sports differential
Body style: two-door coupe
CO2 emissions: 167g/km (VED Band 151-170: 555 in year one, then 490 per annum years two-six of ownership, then 155 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 38.7mpg
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
0-62mph: 5.2 seconds
Power: 258hp at 5,000-6,500rpm
Torque: 400Nm at 1,550-4,400rpm
Boot space: 290 litres

Our view:

You'll be pleased to know, folks, that this is another reasonably brief review for your delectation. The Great 2019 Toyota-BMW Furore revolving around the Japanese company's decision to buddy up with BMW to get the fifth-gen Supra - which is supposed to be called 'J29/DB', but we prefer the more sentimental nerdy nomenclature of 'A90' so we're going to go with that - off the ground was all caused because Toyota insisted that a Supra must have a straight-six engine. And with no such unit to call upon itself, the company went to the best manufacturer in the world when it comes to lining up six cylinders in an engine block. Crikey, Munich has been building the things since 1933. Oh, and before you ask, it was the 1.2-litre M78 unit for the BMW 303.

So with all of the above in mind, what you're looking at here is a four-cylinder Supra. Which... sort of defeats the whole object of the exercise, doesn't it? Now, if you know your car history, you might be aware that the 'Supra' nameplate first appeared on an evolution of the 1978 Celica. The difference between them was that the slightly longer Supra had a six-cylinder engine, while the shorter Celica had a four-pot unit. Can you see what we're angling at?

It would perhaps be asking a lot of Toyota to revive the Celica nameplate after a hiatus of 15 years, when it has only just brought the Supra back from the dead, but there's something missing with this new Supra 2.0 model. The glib response here might well be 'yeah, there is something missing: one litre of swept capacity, two cylinders, 82 horsepower and 100Nm of torque', but there's even more to it than that. While the fundamental principle of widening the 2021 Supra line-up to include more models is a sound one, and while we also accept that such an increase in variant numbers could not possible mean they were all powered by a straight-six, this version doesn't feel very Supra-ish.

Much of the DNA is there, though. You sit low down and far back in a fantastic cabin, peering out through a letterbox windscreen at the Toyota's curvy bonnet. Any time you look in any of the car's mirrors, be they internal or exterior items, you get a glimpse of some of that wonderful bodywork - either the curvy haunches of the rear wings or the little ducktail spoiler sitting aft of the rear screen. The car also looks almost every inch like the 3.0-litre model in all regards, the key differences being it has Alcantara sports seats inside instead of leather, while on the outside it runs on smaller 18-inch black-and-silver alloys. Also, at the back, the twin exhausts are 90mm-diameter chrome-tipped affairs, rather than the 3.0-litre model's 100mm brushed stainless-steel tips. You'd only ever spot that detail if two GR Supras of the different engine grades happened to park side-by-side, so visually you'll be mighty hard-pressed to tell this was the 'lesser' variant.

You might hear it, though. Toyota has done wonders with what it was given to work with, which happens to be BMW's B48 2.0-litre turbocharged four-pot. It's suitably rorty in the Supra and with 400Nm on tap, it certainly doesn't struggle to shift the Toyota's 1,395kg bulk about. On paper, the 2.0-litre gives away nine-tenths in the sprint to 62mph, stopping the clock at 5.2 seconds to the 3.0-litre's 4.3-second run, but it can go on to exactly the same 155mph limited top speed and it feels decently swift in practice.

But it's not the 340hp B58 unit, is it? Not the noise. Not the speed. Not the sheer low-down grunt. And that's not all. With a near-100kg weight advantage over the bigger-engined car, you might think the Supra 2.0 feels more agile in the corners. At first, that's certainly the impression its incredibly light, super-darty steering gives off. At the helm, the car feels trim and limber. However, it has smaller contact patches with the road and Toyota has had to tweak the four-cylinder machine's suspension set-up to account for the lighter mass. The result is a car which doesn't feel anywhere near as keyed-in to the tarmac as the Supra 3.0. Mid-bend bumps unsettle the 2.0-litre Supra and cause it to shimmy around at the back wheels, while it wanders around more in a straight line when traversing lumpy roads. Of course, it's in no way bad - there's actually a lot of fun to be had driving the four-cylinder model around and it has great day-to-day manners, with a smooth ride and impressive refinement of both the damping and the eight-speed ZF gearbox - but once you've sampled the 3.0-litre model, you know what the Supra is truly capable of if left to run free.

The final sticking point with the 2.0-litre car is price. Between the basic four-pot model and the cheapest 3.0-litre, there's an 8,355 gap. We're talking very fine margins here, but that's not quite a big enough gulf in our eyes to warrant due consideration for the Supra 2.0. If its price were nearer 40,000, or even better below that threshold, then we might have been tempted to give the car an extra half-star on its overall rating and a more favourable tone to this whole review. As it is, it's not much of a leap to the full-on Supra 3.0 and that car, in our opinion, is a sensational road-going performance coupe. About the nearest analogue we can think of is when Ford used to sell the 2.3-litre EcoBoost Mustang for not much less cash than the 'proper' 5.0 V8. In the end, there's really only one decision you can possibly make.

Let's leave it with these stats, which tell their own story about how we enjoyed the Supra 2.0 and Supra 3.0 respectively. We drove this four-cylinder Pro Toyota for 318 miles in all, recording a best economy figure of 38mpg on a steady run and an overall weekly average of 34.8mpg. Very commendable. By contrast, when we had the straight-six Supra at the end of 2019, we covered 195 miles and saw a fuel-consumption high of 34.4mpg on one journey, not far off what the smaller engine can achieve in the same circumstances. However, the 3.0-litre's weekly figure was a rather more revealing 21.8mpg. In short, one of these two Supras positively encouraged and invited us to drive it as hard as we possibly dare, as often as possible; the other one, not so much. We'll leave you to work out the rest.

Alternatives:

Alpine A110: few cars in the world drive as wonderfully as the 'regular' 252hp Alpine (including the supposedly harder, better, faster, stronger A110S). So it's no shame that the four-cylinder Toyota can't match up to the A110. The 3.0-litre, though...

BMW Z4 sDrive30i: we have to do it, even if Toyota will be annoyed. If you want the same car as the Toyota, only with slightly different interior badging and layout of the instrument cluster, and also the ability to expose the cabin to the elements, the BMW is the car for you. It's bloody ugly, mind.

Porsche 718 Cayman T: the 2.0-litre boxer engine does not win universal critical acclaim and the Cayman T is not a cheap machine at 52,500 basic, but the Porsche's chassis is operating in another realm entirely to this four-cylinder Supra's. A mid-engined masterpiece.


Matt Robinson - 17 May 2021



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2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 Pro UK test. Image by Toyota.2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 Pro UK test. Image by Toyota.2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 Pro UK test. Image by Toyota.2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 Pro UK test. Image by Toyota.2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 Pro UK test. Image by Toyota.

2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 Pro UK test. Image by Toyota.2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 Pro UK test. Image by Toyota.2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 Pro UK test. Image by Toyota.2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 Pro UK test. Image by Toyota.2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 Pro UK test. Image by Toyota.








 

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