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Video | The 2020 Toyota Supra Is Good – But It Could Be Better

Well, I’ve done it. I’ve just come back from driving the new 2020 Toyota Supra, the replacement for the fifth-generation Supra that left the market all the way back in 1998. And I must say it’s an impressive car. It drives well, it handles well, it steers well, it accelerates well. It does everything well. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite do it as well as most people were probably hoping.

First, a little overview for anyone who’s been living under a rock with no idea what’s going on with the new Supra. The latest Supra was co-developed with BMW, who sells a convertible version as the new BMW Z4. While the Z4 will offer 4- or 6-cylinder powertrains in North America, the Supra will only use a 6-cylinder — in this case, with 335 horsepower. Unfortunately, the Z4 with the same engine makes 380 hp.

That’s where the controversy starts — and it builds from there. For instance: Toyota decided to reinvent the Supra, one of the most famous Japanese cars in history, by … building it in Austria? And how about the fact that there’s no manual transmission? Indeed, the new Supra is automatic only. And while the performance numbers are strong — 0-to-60 mph is 4.1 seconds — is 335 hp really enough for a car as legendary as the Supra, especially after a 20-plus-year hiatus?

I thought that driving the Supra would help me realize some of these worries are non-issues, but that’s not what happened. Instead, I drove the Supra, and I really did enjoy it: it steers well, it handles well, it’s surprisingly quick given the power and I personally love the way it looks — I think its stylish and handsome and modern and a big departure from the more restrained look of the Z4. I’ve previously said the Supra is the less attractive of the two cars, but I take that back — I think it’s the Z4.

But there are several issues I couldn’t get past, and the biggest one is the transmission. Several times during the press launch, Toyota told me that the goal for the Supra was to rival the Porsche Cayman and Boxster — cars that offer manual and dual-clutch automatic transmissions. So why, then, does the Supra only offer a torque converter automatic? A Toyota presenter said the transmission is "almost as fast as a dual clutch," and I almost let out a laugh. Why not just use a dual clutch, then? More importantly, I think the lack of a manual shows that this isn’t quite the sports car this could’ve been, as serious drivers — especially at this price level — do still want manual transmissions, proven by the fact that Porsche still offers them (and sells them) on its mid-engine cars.

There’s also the issue of performance. The Supra drives very well — it handles well, it’s sharp, it’s quick enough. But it won’t blow the doors off anything. Back in the day, the famed top-end Mark IV Supra Turbo competed with the Nissan Skyline GT-R — and now, the GT-R has something like 600 hp and does 0-to-60 mph in under 3 seconds. The Supra is a long way from remaining competitive.

So why not just appreciate the Supra for what it is? It’s a decent sports car, reasonably fun to drive and priced pretty well at around $50,000 before options. And I agree, all that is good stuff — but the problem is that when you use a storied name like "Supra," you bring a lot of hype and a lot of expectations. Old-school Supra models are selling for $100,000 or more, and the car has become famous for its role in "The Fast and the Furious." People love this thing. And so you need more than just a "good sports car" if you’re going to revive it.

But that’s exactly what Toyota has given us — a "good sports car.” The Supra is fun to drive, it’s fast enough, it’s nice looking, and it has a lot of good tech borrowed from BMW — but I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping for more. More power, more transmission options, more thrill, more excitement, rather than an automatic-only coupe with 45 less horsepower than the BMW on which it’s based. Indeed, the Supra is good. Fine. Nice enough. Truth is, that name is really the only issue with the car. The 2020 Toyota Supra is a very good sports car — it’s even a very good sports car for the money — it’s just not a great “Supra.”

Where the rubber meets the road, the Supra has so much going for it. But it could be more — and I sincerely hope this version of the Supra is just the beginning of the revival, with more Supra (like the GT4) on the way in the coming years. Find a Toyota Supra for sale

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15 COMMENTS

  1. I really don’t like this car. It seems so wrong in so many ways. Underpowered for a 2019 model flagship sports car carrying the Supra name (it needs 100 more). No manual transmission. Visually, as a whole car, just a weird aesthetic combination from two very different car companies.

    And the fake vents. Ugh. Awful on a Camry. Unforgivable on a company’s flagship sports car.
    • The vents can be made functional for tuners, They figured a stock car didn’t need it.
      Lack of a manual is sad but expected, I am not crazy about the aesthetic either, It’s much like the difference between the R-34 Skyline GT-R and the R-35 GT-R.
      As far as tuning is concerned, While the BMW inline 6 is a decent engine, It wasn’t overbuilt from the factory as a race-spec engine so I doubt it will break the 1000hp mark like the 2JZ could but 2JZ swaps will likely be common.
      As much as I adore BMW’s I do think Toyota could’ve done more to make it distinct from BMW, I mean it even plays the BMW gong song when you open the door, That’s a simple sound file they could’ve replaced.
      In Toyota’s credit though, The engine sounds absolutely amazing and they did have tuners in mind, One good thing is that if tuning becomes prevalent for the new Supra the Z4 owners will benefit from it too.
      But to be honest, 60k is still too much, This could easily be a 40-50k car, Even the Z4 isn’t that expensive.
  2. While i think this is likely a great sports car that will be a blast to drive, I don’t see any “Toyota” here. Its a BMW, full stop. iDrive? ZF8 (literally the only “Japanese” vehicle that uses it)? Made in Austria? This is nothing more than a rebadge. This is a first-gen Honda Passport all over. 

  3. About a year ago I had a 1965 Studebaker Wagonaire I was going to try and get you to review before I sold it, but you moved out to CA, so I figured no way you’d come back for that.  Now you were literally in my backyard at Summit Point MSP in West by god Virginia!  Wanna come review a clapped out Dodge Magnum R/T, Jeep Comanche, and a BMW 335d with 600ftlbs of torque?  Cheers!

    • I love my BMW 335d 🙂 He reviews stock cars mostly though, Still stock it has 425-460lb/ft torque though.

  4. I am a little disappointed that Toyota couldn’t completely build the car themselves but now that I actually look at the car and the BMW Z4 I can’t think of it being designed any other way, I actually kinda wish I had the 60 grand to go and preorder a launch edition 2020 Toyota Supra.

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