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Driven: Supra’s still an enthusiast’s car

For 2021, Toyota’s sporty model gets horsepower increase, a special edition, and a second engine option

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Launched in 2020, the fifth-generation Supra received mixed reviews about the car produced in a collaborative process between Toyota and BMW (the Z4 is BMW’s version).  I had to know if all of that commotion was really necessary. I discovered that the 2021 Toyota Supra GR 3.0 Premium is, indeed, an enthusiast’s car.

For the 2021 model year, the 3.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged inline 6-cylinder engine gets a 14 percent power bump from the 2020 model, with 382 horsepower versus the previous 335, and with a very slight increase from 365 pound-feet of torque to 368.

Supra, Driven: Supra’s still an enthusiast’s car, ClassicCars.com Journal

The extra punch is from the change in pistons, resulting in lower compression ratio (10.2:1) but allowing the turbos to push a bit harder. (Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do a back-to-back comparison with the previous version, but Larry Edsall did a pretty raving review of the 2020 model last year.

However, I have had a chance to briefly get behind the wheel of a highly modified 1994 Toyota Supra, and while it is not exactly a direct comparison,  I had just about as much fun in the that car as I did in the 2021 model.  

In the new version, and even without a manual transmission option, the 8-speed automatic transmission with electronically locking differential performed beautifully in sport mode, not so much in I guess what we can call “non-sport” mode. In the “non-sport” mode, the transmission seems to over compensate and runs through the gears too quickly.  My first experience was driving casually through my neighborhood at about 35 mph and the car decided sixth gear was appropriate.  Granted, the car didn’t feel sluggish while cruising at this speed, it just felt confused when I had to accelerate as it wasn’t sure if it needed to downshift or not.  

Supra, Driven: Supra’s still an enthusiast’s car, ClassicCars.com Journal

Sport mode was where I ended up keeping the Supra set.  I’ve had the opportunity to experience sport mode in Toyota’s counterpart Lexus sports cars, like the RC-F and the LC500, but they were lackluster compared to the Supra.  What made the difference was the choice of gear at specific speeds.  Compared to the lazier versions in the Lexus models, the Supra’s sport mode drove like an enthusiast would drive, picking the right gear to maximize the performance.

Confidence is written all over the handling of the 2021 Toyota Supra GR.  For the 2021 model, Toyota increased the stiffness by adding two aluminum arms between the radiator support and strut tower brace.  Between that and the adaptive variable sport suspension, stability control systems and sport-calibrated electric power steering, I always felt confident. 

Once in the Supra, it’s hard to want to leave the driver’s seat, not only because of how responsive and exciting it is to drive, but also because of how difficult it is to get in and out!  I’m 31 years young, but the extremely thick door sills in a sports car that sits very low made for a knee-popping experience.  

Once inside, I found the seat to be a welcome surprise. I’m rather thin but with 8-way manual adjustment plus 4-way lumbar and 2-way bolster adjustment, I was very comfortable. Unfortunately for him, my 6-foot-5 boyfriend was not. Oh, well, more seat time for me!

Supra, Driven: Supra’s still an enthusiast’s car, ClassicCars.com Journal
Supra, Driven: Supra’s still an enthusiast’s car, ClassicCars.com Journal

Covered in Toyota’s signature Nitro Yellow, the GR Supra’s aesthetics didn’t change from the previous model year.  Yes, there are ‘fake vents’ styled into the hood, front bumper and doors, but they aesthetically compliment the overall body design.  I can’t say that I’m a big fan of the aero underbody panels, but I spend little time looking below the beautifully sculpted headlights and taillights.  The triple LED headlights with the swooping LED below is a signature look for the new Supra.

Oh, and lest we forget, the car also is available with a 255 horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. That engine is new to the lineup. So is the A91 Edition, of which only 1,000 are being produced with the 6-cylinder engine and Nocturnal or Refraction paint, some black carbon fiber trim, matte black wheels and Alcantara-trimmed interior.

It’s been a week and I still remember how it felt to drive the 2021 Toyota Supra GR.  That’s testament to the well thought out performance-focused machine with the engineering of two successful brands of sports cars.  

Apologies to the purists, but the combined engineering power of Toyota and BMW was well placed.

Supra, Driven: Supra’s still an enthusiast’s car, ClassicCars.com Journal

2021 Toyota GR Supra 3.0-liter Premium

Base Price: $54,490  Price as tested: $57,185

Powertrain: Twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6, 382 horsepower at 5,800-6500 rpm, 368 lb-ft of torque at 1,800-5,000 rpm  Transmission: 8-speed automatic transmission, RWD

Wheelbase: 97.2 inches

Overall length/Width: 172.5 inches / 73.0 inches

Curb Weight: 3,400 pounds

EPA Mileage estimates: 22 city / 30 highway / 25 combined

Assembled in: Graz. Austria

Website: Toyota.com

Rebecca Nguyen
Rebecca is an experienced automotive motorsports photographer and enthusiast of all things with wheels. Former Marketing and Project Coordinator for several aftermarket brands, Rebecca has a unique perspective developed from being on several different sides of the automotive world. From developing innovative automotive products to doing her own DIY modifications on her 2003 Subaru WRX and 2014 Ducati Monster, Rebecca’s passion for the hobby brings fresh ideas to The Journal. In addition, she has spent many years publishing event coverage for events like SEMA, Formula Drift, and Global RallyCross while coordinating the annual Future Collector Car Show in Scottsdale Arizona.

1 COMMENT

  1. Sorry a sports car like that with an automatic isn’t an enthusiast’s car. It’s a posers car. Paddle shifters do not a driver make. It’s steering, nothing else.

    File this one under “Yawn”.

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