For more than 20 years, Supra enthusiasts have longed for the return of Toyota’s top sports car. It’s finally back, although not without controversy among some Supra loyalists, since the Japanese automaker partnered with BMW on the project. Because of that partnership, the 2020 GR Supra is powered by an inline 6-cylinder engine — the same engine configuration as every previous-generation Supra — and turbocharged as well, like the fourth-generation Supra last offered in 1998. So Toyota purists must concede a bit of German engineering for a time-honored configuration.
With the debut of the FT-1 Concept at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, hope rekindled that a new Supra might be coming soon. Following the launch of the Scion FR-S (now Toyota 86) in 2012, Toyota began to pursue development of a new Supra — with the FT-1 Concept as the first sign — and the response to the concept fueled the project. Tetsuya Tada, chief engineer of the 2020 Toyota GR Supra considered an inline 6-cylinder engine and a front-engine/rear-wheel-drive configuration essential to the new Supra, which lead to the BMW partnership.
The 2020 Toyota GR Supra is the first car global GAZOO Racing model (hence GR in the name). Last year GAZOO Racing — Toyota’s global racing program — won both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the World Rally Championship, and was responsible for defining the performance and handling targets for the new GR Supra. Lacking an inline 6-cylinder engine in its current product portfolio, Toyota partnered with BMW to develop the chassis and engine. BMW has a long history of high-performance inline 6-cylinder engines and highly regarded sports cars, so it was a logical partnership for Toyota to produce a low-volume car like the GR. Toyota and BMW made plans in 2012 to jointly developed a shared sports car platform, thus the Supra shares its platform with BMW Z4 Roadsters.
The 2020 Toyota GR Supra will be offered in two versions: 3.0 and 3.0 Premium, as well as a Launch Edition based on the 3.0 Premium. Standard features for Supra 3.0 include 19-inch forged aluminum wheels, heated outside mirrors, active exhaust with dual brushed stainless steel tips, 6-lens LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, a 6.5-inch display with Bluetooth and iPhone compatibility, Alcantara/leather 14-way power seats, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with steering assist and automatic high beams.
The Supra 3.0 Premium adds an 8.8-inch touchscreen display, navigation, Supra Connect telematics, heated leather seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, wireless Apple CarPlay, a premium 12-speaker 500-watt JBL audio system, wireless phone charging and color head-up display. The optional Driver Assistance Package includes full speed adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and parking sonar.
Based on the 3.0 Premium, only 1,500 copies of the Supra Launch Edition will be produced — each with an individually numbered carbon-fiber badge on the dash bearing Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda’s signature. The Supra Launch Edition is offered in three color choices: Absolute Zero White, Nocturnal Black or Renaissance Red 2.0, with red mirror caps and 19-inch forged matte black alloy wheels. The Absolute Zero White and Nocturnal Black Launch Editions feature red leather seats, a red / black leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a red center console with carbon fiber accents. The Renaissance Red 2.0 Launch Edition interior is all black with carbon fiber accents.
Both the design and the front-engine, rear-drive configuration of the new Supra draw from two iconic Toyota cars from the past: the 1967 2000 GT and the fourth-generation 1993–2002 Supra with its long hood, short wheelbase, low center of gravity and rear-wheel drive. The 2020 Toyota GR Supra design evolved from the FT-1 Concept, and one of the challenges was to adapt the design from the larger FT-1 Concept — which was designed without size constraints — to the dimensions of the new chassis. The front fascia was inspired by the fourth-generation Supra with a prominent center grille flanked by large air intakes. The double-bubble roof design pays tribute to the 2000 GT while reducing drag by lowering the center of the roof without impacting headroom.
Toyota’s new GR Supra is powered by a 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine with a twin-scroll turbocharger and variable valve timing, sourced from BMW. The powerplant is combined with a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode and shift paddles; a manual transmission is not offered. With Toyota tuning and engine mapping, the 3.0-liter engine produces 335 horsepower and 365 lb-ft of torque from 1600–4500 rpm. According to Toyota performance figures, Supra will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, which makes it the quickest Toyota-branded production vehicle to date. The GR Supra has an electronically-limited top track speed of 155 mph.
As expected in a performance sports car, the 2020 Supra features a driver-oriented cockpit and an interior with grand touring comfort and convenience. The interior also offers the most obvious evidence of the collaboration with BMW: the shifter, infotainment controller and climate control interface are all familiar BMW components. But the design is all Toyota with an asymmetrical center console containing driving controls; it surrounds the driver and also provides a right knee bolster. The instrument panel’s high-definition color display contains a single larger meter with driving information, and audio or available navigation information to the right. The standard 14-way power sport seats include integrated head restraints and bolsters in the shoulder area for lateral support, as well as adjustable side bolsters.
The chassis for the 2020 Supra was developed with BMW and has high structural rigidity, a low center of gravity and a 50:50 weight distribution for the 2-seat coupe. The new Supra is as rigid as the Lexus LF-A supercar but without the use of carbon fiber to keep costs down. The wheelbase is 3.2 inches shorter than the fourth generation Supra and 4 inches shorter than the Toyota 86, both 2+2 coupes. Overall Supra is 5.8 inches longer than the Toyota 86, with a front track that is 3 inches wider and rear track 2 inches wider. The new Supra will be assembled at Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria — a facility that hosts final assembly for models from various automakers including the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, Jaguar I-PACE, BMW 5 Series and BMW Z4.
The GR Supra’s front suspension is a new double-joint MacPherson strut design, and the rear suspension features a multi-link five-arm design with both aluminum and steel components. Toyota specified the spring, shock and stability control system tuning to give Supra desirable handling characteristics. Adaptive Variable Suspension is standard with instant damping force adjustment in Normal and Sport modes.
Standard wheels are 19-inch forged aluminum alloy wheels with a two-tone dark and bright design. The front wheels are 9 inches wide, while the rear wheels are 10 inches wide, fitted with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires: 255/35R19 on the front and 275/35R19 at the rear. Front brakes feature Brembo 4-piston calipers with 13.7-inch ventilated discs, and the rear brakes are 13.0 inches (13.6 inches on 3.0 Premium).
The 2020 Toyota Supra is a blast to drive with quick acceleration, precise shifts and responsive steering. Lots of low-end torque means power is readily available, and the stiff platform allows suspension tuning that is both performance oriented but also comfortable for a sports car. The new Supra feels like a sports car that would be easy to live with day-to-day, but always ready to enjoy a winding back road. The exhaust note sounds right for a Supra, even though the mechanicals are shared with BMW, and the sound increases when in Sport mode. Wide door sills contribute to the rigid platform, but make it more difficult to get in and out of the car. Drive mode select offers Normal and Sport, with adjustments to the throttle, transmission, steering, exhaust, dampers and the limited-slip differential.
The 2020 Toyota Supra is as equally at home on the track as it is on the street. Toyota provided time to test the Supra on the Shenandoah Circuit at Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia, which offers a great variety of tight turns, long straights, elevation changes and combination corners that really test the balance and maneuverability of a car. The electric power steering provides a nice feel and Sport mode has additional heft. The brakes are impressive, handling track speeds without any drama or brake fade.
With the benefits of a stiff chassis, short wheelbase and responsive steering, the 2020 Toyota Supra proved impressive in technical combination corners on the Shenandoah Circuit. The Supra is stable, balanced and predictable through quick transitions, over rises and through long sweeping turns. The new Supra inspires driving confidence and makes fast track driving a breeze. The only complaint: the A-pillar and outside mirror create a blind spot when trying to look into the apex of a corner.
The new 2020 Toyota GR Supra is a real sports car — the quickest production Toyota ever. It’s fun to drive, well balanced and comfortable for a sports car. The partnership with BMW has been critiqued, but without the collaboration the new Supra would never have happened. It’s a legitimate sports car that is fun to drive and comfortable enough for everyday use. If you’re a Toyota fan, or just looking for a new sports car, the 2020 GR Supra might be the one for you.
Pros: Great turbo inline 6-cylinder; true sports car chops; driver-oriented interior.
Cons: No manual transmission; too much BMW inside; A-pillar / mirror blind spots.
Bottom Line: The Toyota Supra is back, and it’s a great modern sports car.