REVIEW: Toyota’s brilliant GR Supra

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Image: Warren Wilson

It’s been almost 20 years since the last new Toyota Supra graced the market and, at some point, it was clear that a new generation would not see the light. But in the automotive industry, one should never say never, because in 2019 the tables turned for the better.

Toyota, one of the biggest automakers in the world, had the Supra in its line-up up until the turn of the millennium, but primary objectives forced the carmaker’s hand to halt production on it. Various factors played a role in that decision and so closed the final curtain. Only thing is, it wasn’t the final curtain because the Supra returned with a vengeance.

A major factor that made the Supra’s return possible was Toyota’s partnership with BMW. Or part-sharing agreement, if you will. The agreement allows Toyota to use the BMW Z4’s underpinnings as the basis for its Supra, but also that the Supra borrows an interior from BMW. Does this mean that the Supra is a rebadged Z4? It sure would come across as such, but fortunately, it’s not.

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Image: Warren Wilson

BMW interior? What?!

Toyota has been producing beautiful and practical interiors of late – think Corolla. But on the 2019 Supra, it’s not the case. The Japanese automaker borrowed more from BMW than just the engine. The dashboard, complete with dials and buttons, is BMW’s previous-generation interior. Even the buttons on the steering are BMW’s.

Other interior bits worth noting is the access area behind the seats. This allows easy access to the cargo area, but, admittedly, the hole is rather big. You almost get the sense that there should’ve been a divider; even if it is just for aesthetic purposes. Regardless, the interior does exude a sense of sportiness and from the get-go, the driver is rearing to go.

The Supra’s interior may come from Germany, but it does nothing to make the car feel like an inferior product.

READ: It’s back! Toyota Supra returns to SA!

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Image: Warren Wilson

What about the engine?

In the generations preceding this fifth-generation Supra, a six-cylinder 3.0-litre petrol engine powered this Japanese sports car. The problem Toyota has now is that it does not have such an engine in its line-up to use in the Supra. And to produce one would cost millions and having it comply with emission standards… It’s a task that’ll be an unnecessary expense. Unnecessary in the sense that why research when someone else already did?

Enter BMW.

BMW builds some of the world’s best 3.0-litre six-cylinder engines and was it a natural decision for Toyota to partner with BMW. Looking across the pond, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi all produce six-cylinder motors, but none more renowned and reputable than BMW. The Supra shares its engine, gearbox, and chassis with the BMW Z4. In terms of the engine, the unit delivers an impressive 250kW and 500Nm. An eight-speed automatic gearbox sends power to the rear wheels, which gifts the car a nicely balanced drive.

BMW may have supplied the Supra’s heart and organs, but the personality is all on Toyota.

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Image: Warren Wilson

Give me more!

Deactivate DSC (Dynamic Stability Control), flick the drive mode to Sport, stamp on the brakes, feed some fuel into the engine, and wait for Launch Control to engage. Once engaged, release brakes and allow the car to hurtle towards the horizon. What a sensation! Damn, this is pretty epic! The engine roars towards the redline, slap the paddles behind the steering wheel to engage the next gear and listen to the exhaust bark.

Every gear is hooked with a menacing grip that forces you to grip the steering wheel tightly; yet with a gentleness. It’s an enticing experience that warrants successive attempts at chasing the thrill.

The Supra not only excels in a straight line. As soon as you find the car’s groove, it dances through all of your favourite bends. Sweeping bends, hard-braking ones… it all plays into the Supra’s hands. This isn’t a BMW Z4 with a hard-top roof. This is a Toyota Supra; a sports car in its own right.

The Supra needs only 4.3 seconds to go from standstill to 100km/h, and top speed is a claimed 250km/h.

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Image: Warren Wilson

Summary

While Toyota may face some criticism for joining forces with BMW, it was a smart move on the Japanese automaker’s part. The agreement allows Toyota to tap into BMW’s technical know-how, which has a direct impact as to how its Supra carries itself on the road. In all, the 2019 Toyota Supra is a sports car that can hold its own in its segment.

I’ll admit, the interior is a bit of an overkill in terms of the part-sharing, but one can overlook it when you view the car as a whole. And when you judge the car as a whole, you can’t help but agree that this has to be one of 2019’s greatest highlights.

Price: R1 072 300

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Image: Warren Wilson