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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Review: 2021 Toyota GR Supra 3.0


Normally, anyone who’s had the chance to take the Toyota GR Supra would be smitten by it. But beyond the tons of pics done for the ‘gram and the prerequisite social media profile pic change, let’s get down to the brutal truth: is this revival, 17 years in the making worth it, or is Toyota just better off keeping the Supra in its cupboard of legendary nameplates?

Honestly, there are two ways to look at the Toyota GR Supra, the first is to look at it from a sportscars’ point of view, particularly if it ticks all the right boxes—design, performance, etc. The second is to see whether it’s a great Toyota, and if it deserves the wear the storied nameplate.

Let’s start with the first.

If sportscars are supposed to look great, the GR Supra fails in that regard. Yes, the impression it gives is arresting, and it’s guaranteed to grab attention anywhere you go. But it’s not pretty either. There are just too many things going on—fake vents, fake door bulges, you name it. It seems Toyota wanted to put every conceivable design trait they could think of, and what they ended up is something that’s messy, unrefined, and quite frankly, juvenile. This here is the automotive equivalent of wearing a statement tee that says, “fuccboi” in big, bold letters with a big LV belt, Gucci satchel, and Supreme collab shoes.



So, while the GR Supra won’t be the subject of any concours or beauty pageants real soon, inside it’s all business. BMW, which is Toyota’s engineering partner here had something to do with it. Some may complain that it sullies the Supra legacy or such nonsense, but if it gives drivers the ability to work with precision, then it’s great news.

Getting in (or out) of the GR Supra requires a bit of careful contortion due to the sloping roofline that starts at the A-pillar. Once aboard though, it has one of the best driving positions out there. The electrically-operated seats are extremely supportive, and even have adjustable lumbar too.

While sportscars generally don’t do well when it comes to practicality, the GR Supra is pretty decent even for long distance touring. The glovebox is big (though not big enough to fit the standard Toyota owner’s manual folio), plus there are two cup holders, a cubby behind it, and two door bins. Sadly, put a tall enough drink in the front cup holder means having to bang elbows with it each time you operate the rotary controller.



This is a strict two-seater, but there’s plenty of space to go around. Head-, leg- and, shoulder room is never lacking. Towards the back, the cargo hold is generous. There’s no external release for the trunk lid, and this can be quite a pain. The opening is narrow, but at 290 liters, the available space is closer to a hatchback than a sportscar. Plus, because there’s no divider separating the driver’s compartment from the luggage compartment, you can reach between the seats and grab something if you need to. The thing is, it could also mean that whatever is in there can come and visit you, potentially with some haste if you slam on the brakes.

In true sportscar fashion, the seating position is low, and depending on where you look makes for either great or terrible visibility. Straight out front, the generous windshield and curvaceous fenders make it easy to position through bends. Towards the sides and rear though, the high belt line and enclosed rear bodywork can make switching lanes or watching out for motorcycles quite difficult. Parking is also quite a challenge too without relying on the standard rearview camera (no sensors, though).

In front of the driver, the digital dials are a GR Supra original (they weren’t nicked from BMW), so the graphics are more playful, but at least everything is presented in a clear, concise manner; ditto with the matching fonts on the heads-up display. To the middle though, there’s something closer to corporate BMW—the iDrive infotainment system. But, why mess with a good thing when the graphics are slick, and the menus intuitive. Sadly, a missed opportunity here is the lack of Apple CarPlay (wireless or otherwise) and Android Auto. It does have a punchy 12-speaker system though.



Material-wise, the GR Supra is pretty straightforward with plenty of smart-looking plastics, carbon fiber trim, and grippy Alcantara. But for people who’ll scrutinize it with a microscope, there are some cheap bits like those on the hatch.

For all this talk about looks, space, and practicality, the most critical part to the GR Supra, as with any sportscar, is performance. Things are off to a great start when you press that starter button. The twin-scroll 3.0-liter inline-6 comes to life in an honest-to-goodness manner. It sounds like a proper beast with no form of exhaust fakery. Then it settles to a nice, bass-filled hum—a better soundtrack than anything the JBL speakers can provide.

Toyota claims it hits 100 km/h from zero in just 4.3 seconds. Subjectively though, the powertrain is just so muscular that you don’t have it work it hard for it to feel quick. It just feels so torquey, powerful, and smooth even when you’re just toddling down EDSA. In the times you do stretch its legs, the engine lets out a baritone bark along with pops and crackles from the exhaust. This car can be mental, but also well-mannered if need be—all it takes is the pressure of your right foot.



Purists will decry the absence of a manual gearbox in the GR Supra, but the 8-speed automatic gets the job done. It’s responsive and shifts smoothly. And despite being a 335-horsepower, 500 Nm of torque sportscar, it’s still fairly economical, registering 7.14 km/L at an average speed of 18 km/h.

On twisty pieces of tarmac, the GR Supra is crisp, responsive, and confidence-inspiring. Despite imagery of it being power drifted through corners, this is a friendly, approachable car to drive; nothing much flusters it. It’s easy to get a good rhythm going here because it moves well through corners, and powers out of them with the same level of poise and precision. Turn-in is well-contained and makes the entire setup feel agile.

With adaptive dampers as standard, it rides calmly too. Given its accuracy through corners, you’d imagine the ride to be brittle. It’s not. It remains unperturbed through lumps and bumps (yes, even on C5’s truck lane). NVH isn’t an issue, too as you can carry a regular conversation at triple digit speeds.



As an impartial reviewer though, it’s worth mentioning that this particular GR Supra unit doesn’t have the mixed tire sizes. On stock units, they’re supposed to measure 255/35 R 19 at the front and 275/35 R 19 at the back. But because of all the journalist hijinks though (including drifts and burn outs), Toyota Motor Philippines replaced them with 255/35 R 19 on all four corners.

At this point, it’s very clear that this revival ticks almost all the boxes to be a formidable sportscar. With the polarizing looks being the only question, everything else seems to be pointed in its favor. However, this is all when taking the GR Supra in isolation, and ignoring the lurking elephant in the room.

Toyota claims to have worked on the GR Supra to differentiate it from the BMW Z4, its mechanical and platform twin. Sure enough, it doesn’t feel like half a BMW. It is pure BMW. Whether it’s about the engine, the handling, and even the distinct interior smell—there’s no denying its Teutonic rather than Japanese origin. In short, if you’ve never driven a BMW or want a Japanese car with a straight six, you can take this car at face value and enjoy it.



However, if you care about the back story, the legend, this car will leave you puzzled. Toyota seems fixated on bringing back cars from the dead, and the GR Supra is the second car in its line-up with a name that appeared to be long-forgotten, but has been revived and glued to the back of a current model.

Unlike the 86/BRZ though, this partnership sticks out like a sore thumb because the Supra matters. The Supra badge has panache, and a history that places it front and center in Japanese car culture along with the Honda NSX and Nissan GT-R. That’s why it’s surprising that instead of building a halo car from scratch, the company has chosen to farm out most of the development work to a German carmaker, and build it in Austria. Toyota will always point out that profit margins are razor thin on sportscars, and that without BMW’s help, the GR Supra revival won’t have been possible. Yes, that’s true. But as a result, the Toyota GR Supra lacks charisma. It feels confused—part German, part Japanese, not quite knowing what it is. This is perhaps its greatest fault, and one that can’t be ignored by the vast majority who’re thinking of parting P 4.990-million for one.



2021 Toyota GR Supra

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Ownership 2021 Toyota GR Supra
Year Introduced 2019
Vehicle Classification Sports Car
Warranty 3 years / 100,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type Sports Car
Seating 2
Engine / Drive F/R
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 3.0
Aspiration Twin-Scroll Turbo
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders I6
BHP @ rpm 335 @ 5,000-6,500
Nm @ rpm 500 @ 1,600-4,500
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 95~
Transmission 8 AT
Cruise Control Yes
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 7.14 km/L @ 18 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,379
Width (mm) 1,854
Height (mm) 1,294
Wheelbase (mm) 2,470
Curb Weight (kg) 1,542
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut, Adaptive
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-Link, Apdative
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Vented Disc
Parking Brake Electric, w/ Auto Hold
Tires Michelin Pilot Super Sport 255/35 R 19 Y (f & r), as tested
Michelin Pilot Super Sport 255/35 R 19 Y (f),
275/35 R 19 Y (r)
Wheels Forged Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 7
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors No
Parking Camera Yes, Rear
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts None
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor None
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes, Rear (LED)
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers Yes
Tailgate Manual
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Electric, 8-way w/ Memory
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Electric, 8-way
Seating Surface Leather/Alcantara
Folding Rear Seat None
Sunroof None
Trip Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, w/ Fold
Rear View Mirror Auto-dimming
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Dual Zone
Audio System Stereo
USB
Bluetooth
Smartphone Connectivity None
# of Speakers 12, JBL
Steering Controls Yes

4 comments:

  1. What is the difference between a roadster and a sportscar? I cant seem to distinguish one over the other. What is the classification of the following cars? 86/brz, miata, z4, supra.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sports car is the general term. Roadster is used to define a two-seater, sporty car with an open top.

      So, all of these are sports cars, but MX-5 and Z4 are roadsters.

      Delete
  2. Uly, "twin turbo" is different from "twin-scroll turbo". The former literally has 2 turbines attached to the exhaust manifold, while the latter just means the single turbo has 2 inlets from which the exhaust gases can be directed to flow through independently, 1 inlet at low RPMs, both inlets at high RPMs. So what does the BMW I6 engine have?

    ReplyDelete

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