The 2020 Toyota Supra launched to years of anticipation and excitement with its sharp, futuristic looks and a rich history of being an iconic Japanese sports car. The trouble with the car was that it wasn’t exactly what people were wanting. The car shared a lot with the BMW Z4 and didn’t quite have as much of its own identity as it should have. It wasn’t as athletic as it should be from a driving dynamics perspective, and the engine didn’t have the power that people were expecting. The result was the launch of a pretty OK Supra, but not a great one.
For those that waited to buy a Supra, 2021 is the year those buyers are rewarded for their patience. Not only is the 2021 Toyota Supra GR 3.0 more powerful, but it’s also much better to drive than the launch model Supra. Still, though, is it worthy of the Supra name?
So how did Toyota improve the Supra that dramatically just one year into the model? For 2021, Toyota has given the Supra a major retune of just about all of the chassis and damper systems including the steering, adaptive suspension, and stability programming. In addition, aluminum braces and new bump stops are added front and rear to increase rigidity.
In the power department, Toyota leveraged their partner relationship with BMW to help with fine-tuning the engine, resulting in an increase of 47-horsepower. The 3.0 inline-six has been given a new dual-branch exhaust manifold, and a lowered compression ratio (11:1 vs 10.2:1 in 2021) thanks to a new piston design. The result is the 2021 Supra 3.0 making 382-horsepower and 368-lb.ft. of torque versus the 335-horsepower and 365-lb. ft. of the launch model Supra. The eight-speed automatic transmission is a carryover.
On the road, the Supra felt much more athletic in the corners and handled the direction changes of the Texas backroads with ease. These aren’t California mountain roads, but in the sweeper corners of our flat landscape, the Supra held the road well and felt very predictable when pushed hard into the corners. In addition, body roll has been improved versus the 2020 launch model Supra.
As one would expect, the additional horsepower and torque make the car more fun to drive. The extra torque when powering out of corners is noticeable, and the added horsepower is appreciated when going for flat-out speed. Throttle response is excellent in Sport mode, and the eight-speed transmission shifts reasonably quickly. Though not a dual-clutch box, the transmission is one of the best automatics I’ve tested.
Interior & Infotainment
The interior of the 2021 Toyota Supra is unchanged versus the debut model. The steering wheel is still akwardly large and unsightly compared to the rest of the car and honestly looks out of place. Otherwise, the rest of the cabin is a nice place to be.
The switchgear and controls are immediately recognizable as BMW parts, which is a good thing. These controls work well inside a BMW and they work well inside of the Supra. Also straight out of the BMW parts bin are is the 8.8-inch infotainment screen and controls, which are rebranded versions of BMW’s iDrive. Wireless CarPlay is available, but Android Auto support is absent.
This is made all the more easier thanks to automotive grade Linux, an operating system that is known to sit at the foundation, over which other more complex and customizable layers can take shape. As a result, engineers and enthusiasts alike can develop and customize control features that are unique to their requirements, and have it stored in the cloud for interested customers to choose from. It naturally involves some amount of understanding of Linux commands on the part of an enthusiast (https://www.linode.com/docs/guides/delete-file-linux-command-line/ for instance to delete old files) but these technicalities of tweaking a car infotainment system should be left to the experts. That said, there is an easily accessible USB port to help with just that, and a wireless charging mat under the easy-to-use climate control system for driver convenience.
The seats are supportive with just the right amount of side bolster. Visibility is poor at times but manageable, as one would expect from an aggressively styled two-door sports car.
The 2021 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Premium is a fantastic car. Sure, it doesn’t look or feel like the MKIV or MKIII Supras, but those cars are not the perfect embodiment of what a Supra should be. Those cars are rooted in pop culture lore, where 1000-horsepower versions were street racing kings in some movies and drift kings in others. In reality, though, they weren’t particularly magical in stock form.
While the 2021 Supra isn’t magical either, it’s a damn fun car to drive and finally gives a great powertrain an equally good chassis in which to shine.
All that said, the Supra is still a bit more of a semi-luxury GT car to me than a sports car. It doesn’t feel light on its toes like the GR86 or other less powerful but lighter sports cars. That’s ok because the Supra is still fantastic. I think expectations just need to be set about what this car is and what it isn’t.
Understand that, and there’s no way buyers of the Supra will find themselves disappointed. With a price as tested of $57,145, the 2021 GR Supra 3.0 Premium is a lot of car and fun for the dollar.
Toyota provided the 2021 GR Supra 3.0 Premium to Speed:Sport:Life with a full tank of gas for the purpose of review.