2021 Toyota Supra 3.0 review: Punchier pint-sizer

There is no subtlety with this type of paintwork … or body panels, for that matter.

Andrew Krok / Roadshow

If you bought a 2020 Toyota Supra, I’m sorry, but you have the tree. Toyota rolled out a whole slew of updates to its Halo sports car just a year after its debut, and after driving both, I can assure you that the 2021 Supra is demonstrably better, although some old flaws remain.

Like it

  • Power more readily available
  • Concept car look
  • BMW technology on board

I do not like

  • Gust of wind from the lowered window
  • Aggressive assistance for lane maintenance
  • Ugly steering wheel

The 2020 Supra was a blast on the road, but its output figures lagged behind the livelier variant of the BMW Z4 with which this Toyota shares a chassis. This has been fixed for 2021, with the 3.0-liter turbocharged I6 under the hood now producing 382 horsepower and 368 Nm of torque, improvements of 47 and 3 respectively. The 2020 Supra was still very fast, but now looks even more badge-worthy, as torque builds up more quickly, making it easier than before to shoot freeway spaces or exit a bend. And yes, it still sounds as sweet as before.

Speaking of backroad antics, there are other updates hidden under the body as well. For 2021, Toyota has added new aluminum strut mounts, revised adaptive suspension tuning and replaced retaining clips, and further optimized programming for the rear differential, stability control and power steering. Once again, the results are quite evident from the first corner entry. In both Normal and Sport mode, the 2021 Supra has less roll than before. Don’t get me wrong, the Supra’s reduced wheelbase means there’s still a lot of twitching to be had, especially when hitting the accelerator when exiting corners, but it’s a little more manageable. If the stability control needs to intervene, it does so smoothly that doesn’t upset the car’s balance or the driver’s attention. Adding more speed seems less dramatic than before.

Given the performance improvements, I find less reason to press the giant Sport button on the Supra’s center console while driving briskly. It acts like every other button in Sport mode, strengthening suspension, steering and throttle response, but it’s not really necessary. There’s still plenty of punch on the gas pedal in Normal mode, and the slightly softer tuning of the suspension means my mediocre Michigan road experience isn’t overly harsh. The Supra’s eight-speed automatic transmission is unchanged, which is fine, because it’s great. Shifts are smooth at any speed, in any mode, and the steering wheel paddles offer gear changes on the fast. Manual transmission is not yet available.

The rough pavement still creates a whole host of tire noises, but on the freeway the hype gives way to appreciable peace and quiet (for a purpose-built sports car). The wind flip is still atrocious with windows in any position other than fully closed, but it will take a redesign to iron out that knot.

The only downside to adding power is the loss of fuel economy, but the Supra doesn’t take too big a blow in that department. The 2020 model has been rated at 24 city miles per gallon and 31 mpg highway, and the 2021 now earns ratings of 22 and 30 respectively. I can regularly crawl north up to 32 or 33 on the freeway with a light foot, but yes, the economy of the city is not great.

Then again, it’s very clear that the Supra is a dedicated tool and less of an everyday family car. There are no rear seats and the sedan offers just enough space, 10.2 cubic feet to be precise, enough for groceries or weekend bags for two and that’s it. There is also a paltry amount of storage space in the cabin, with microscopic pockets on the door panel and an exposed armrest compartment large enough for two huge bunches of keys and a face mask. Glove compartment? We hope they are not extra large.

The rest of the interior of the Supra 2021 is unchanged. The steering wheel is still strangely bulbous and ugly, like the 964 generation Porsche 911s, and anyone who has owned a BMW in the past 5-10 years will instantly recognize Everyone of the framework. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The interior feels appropriate for the price, with plenty of soft touch points and just the right amount of physical switches. Honestly, it’s probably good that Toyota has decided not to go their own way, at the switch level, because BMWs are far more satisfying to use. The seats are just the right amount of support, with ample lateral support that isn’t too constricting. Visibility remains limited, with fairly large blind spots above the hips.

Curves, curves, curves.

Andrew Krok / Roadshow

The word “hips” will ring in your head as a Supra owner because the rear three-quarter angle is easily the best in the car. From there, my eyes get tremendous help from the bulbous rear fender, leading to a smattering of interesting creases and a seriously pronounced duckbill spoiler. It’s much more interesting than the BMW Z4 and doesn’t stray too far from Toyota’s FT-1 concept of yore, which probably explains why everyone gapes at the Supra. The front is a little quirky, but it still works, because it’s unlike anything else on the road. Especially if it’s painted with my tester’s $ 425 Nitro Yellow.

One BMW carryover that I’ll be happy to praise all day is the Supra’s onboard technology. For a simple sports car, there’s a good amount of comfort hidden in the wiring. by Toyota Entune it is nowhere to be seen; instead, the 8.8-inch screen on the dashboard (now standard across the range) manages BMW’s iDrive infotainment. I think it’s a good system, with a straightforward menu structure and easy access both via the dial on the center console and via the touchscreen itself. wireless Apple CarPlay is available, but Android Auto it won’t make it to Supra 2021, which is a disappointment. Charging is done via the wireless pad under the air conditioner or the nearby USB port, which means there is a way to charge the devices for each passenger at the same time.

Relying on BMW’s infotainment technology isn’t a bad thing at all.

Andrew Krok / Roadshow

Some sports cars are content to avoid active safety systems almost entirely, but that’s not really Toyota’s modus operandi. All Supras come standard with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane keeping assistance, while an optional $ 1,195 package on Premium and A91 finishes opens up adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and parking sensors. Everything works well together, except for lane maintenance assistance, which it is way too aggressive and can disrupt highway navigation more than help.

The 2021 Toyota Supra has decent competition in the compact premium sports car segment, but is aggressively priced, starting at $ 55,485 for my 3.0-liter tester’s Premium trim and going up to $ 57,145 with the package of driving assistance. Its stablemate, the BMW Z4 M40i, has a bit more of the brand’s cachet, but it also has a more nondescript styling and now the two are equally matched in terms of power. The Porsche 718 Cayman S is more refined, but its engine is less thrilling to listen to and, like all Porsches, it can get overpriced quickly. However, you can also get it with a manual transmission. If you want a Supra at a lower price, its 2.0-liter variant brings the window sticker to $ 43,985.

Toyota’s Supra has swung out of the gates, but there’s always room for improvement. The launch of a number of underbody upgrades to the car, as well as a dash of extra power, gives this 2021 Toyota Supra an even more compelling character that is immediately felt and appreciated.