Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
While the Alpine A110, Porsche 718 Cayman and even the entry-level Jaguar F-Type make use of turbocharged four cylinder engines, the Supra sticks with a six. It might come from BMW, but considering that the German firm makes some of the best six-cylinder engines out there, we see that as a very good thing.
The Supra’s single turbo straight-six makes a healthy 335bhp and 369Ib ft of torque over a wide band of revs. That means you don’t have to rev it very hard for it to feel muscular, although you probably will anyway just to hear its pleasing baritone bark as it nears the redline, as well as the pops and crackles from the exhaust should you find yourself in Sport mode. And while much of the noise is clearly electronically augmented, it still sounds far more characterful than the four-cylinder engines of its closest rivals.
Even without launch control engaged the Supra finds tremendous traction, thanks in part to super-sticky Michelin Super Sport tyres and the standard electronically controlled limited slip differential. Of course, if you turn the traction control off and boot the accelerator mid-corner, it’s easy to set the tail wagging, something keener drivers will find enjoyable rather than alarming. But the same can be said for the Ford Mustang, and that’s not exactly what we’d call a ‘driver’s’ car. So does the Supra really feel like (in Toyota’s words) a ‘pure sports car’?
Well the short answer is, ‘not quite’, but it gets closer than you expect. With the suspension in its firmest setting, there is very little body roll in the corners, and the front end feels noticeably sharper than the BMW Z4 M40i on which the Supra is based. Of course, the A110 and Cayman both feel lighter on their feet and keener to change direction, but the Supra’s sticky Michelin Super Sport tyres mean grip levels are exceedingly high, while the standard-fit limited slip differential helps to effectively deploy the engine’s power when you’re exiting bends.
We do wish, however, that the Supra felt a little more tied down on undulating country roads. Even in Sport mode there is quite a lot of vertical movement from the rear end over sudden crests, which can occasionally unsettle the car and make you back off in places where an A110 or Cayman would be egging you on. And the same goes for the brakes. They’re certainly strong, but a few hard stops on track will have the middle pedal sinking deeper and deeper into the footwell.
But the Supra isn’t a track-day special, and that’s actually a good thing, because the Supra absolutely excels at being a ‘junior’ GT car. When cruising at motorway speeds the standard adjustable suspension is very well judged, giving you a plush ride in Comfort mode. And while, you do feel bumps pass under you, it never crashes and only feels uncomfortable over the most vicious potholes.
Sport mode, meanwhile, might stiffen things up, but it’s still a mode you can comfortably use on the road. And, while the automatic gearbox can fire through shifts swiftly in manual mode, it’s super-smooth when left to its own devices. It really does feel like a cut price Ferrari 812 Superfast in the way it simply demolishes long road trips. So if you enjoy spending your summers bombing across the continent, the Supra is well worth considering over its mid-engined rivals.
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