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 at all hard for it to feel muscular, although you’ll probably will anyway for its pleasing baritone, as well as pops and crackles from the exhaust should you find yourself in Sport mode.
Unfortunately, Sport also adds to the already unwelcome synthesised engine noise that’s fed to your ears by the Supra’s speakers. We’ve certainly heard worse augmentation, but it is clearly fake. And, while we’re complaining, we do wish the engine could feel a little less breathless as it approaches the rev limiter.
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. Turn off the traction control, though, and there’s enough power to get the rear tyres smoking even on a hot, dry day.
So it’s fast in a straight line, but what’s it like in the bends? After all, the re-imagined Supra has switched from being a Gran Tourer to (in Toyota’s words) a ‘pure sports car’. It gets off to a good start by being very low, very wide and rather stubby. That means it has a super-low centre of gravity and should feel exceedingly agile in the bends.
There’s certainly very little body roll in corners, especially if you’ve stiffened the suspension, and it feels keen to change direction. Sure, it feels bulkier than the far lighter A110 and Cayman, but we suspect it’ll feel more nimble than the BMW M2 Competition and Audi TT RS. Those Super Sport tyres mean grip levels are exceedingly high, while the limited slip differential helps to effectively deploy the engine’s power when you’re exiting bends.
However, the real fun is found in how the Supra involves you in the process of going quickly. You’ll feel subtle messages about the road surface filtering up through the pleasingly thin-rimmed steering wheel, and a keen driver can choose how the car takes a corner. Leave all the electronics turned on, and the Supra is a precise tool with fantastic balance. Turn them off, though, and you can use the accelerator pedal to steer the car out of a corner. And the best bit? This isn’t some lairy monster that wants to spit you off into the undergrowth; it’s happy enough to give you a little slide rather than a big smokey drift.
It doesn’t feel quite as well tied down as the Cayman, though. If you’re really pushing, on a track for instance, you can feel the Supra wiggling its hips slightly. It doesn’t feel out of control, but you are aware that it could be stiffer still to give the ultimate on-circuit experience. Track day fans should also be wary of the brakes. They’re certainly strong, but a few hard stops will have the middle pedal sinking deeper and deeper into the footwell.
But the Supra isn’t a track day special; it really is a car you could use every day. The standard adjustable suspension is very well judged, giving a decent ride when you switch it to Comfort mode. Yes, you do feel bumps pass under you, but it never crashes and only feels uncomfortable over the most vicious rubber speed bumps. Sport mode might stiffen things up, but it’s still a mode you’ll 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. You really could do big distances in the Supra.