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  4. The new Toyota Supra now comes with 2 different engine choices, and I drove them both. See why they're very different sports cars.

The new Toyota Supra now comes with 2 different engine choices, and I drove them both. See why they're very different sports cars.

The new Toyota Supra now comes with 2 different engine choices, and I drove them both. See why they're very different sports cars.
LifeThelife1 min read
Business Insider
  • Last year, Toyota brought back the legendary Supra. For the 2021 model year, it updated the launch edition of the two-door, which shares a lot of DNA with the BMW Z4.
  • I tested the new GR Supra 3.0 and Supra 2.0.
  • The Supra 3.0 has a 3.0-liter 382-horsepower inline six-cylinder engine; the 2.0 has a 2.0-liter inline four, making 255 horsepower.
  • Both versions of the new Supra are compelling, with the 3.0 offering more straight-ahead velocity and the 2.0 providing a lighter, dartier vibe.

Here's what I thought of the much-anticipated, all-new Toyota Supras when I drove it last year.

"This car has massive punch and ferocious composure," I wrote. "It's hot in a straight line, but it's a thing of beauty when slung into a corner, and the steering is just about perfect."

Sounds pretty good, right? So why did Toyota run the risk of confusing the market by offering two versions of the Supra for the 2021 model year?

I'll explain later. But for now, let's consider what we have before us: a legendary nameplate, with two powerplants under the hood. The horsepower difference between them is over 100 ponies. They look the same, but behind the wheel, they're quite distinctive.

Read on to find out how and why:

My Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Premium test car was from the 2021 model year and arrived wearing an "Absolute Zero" white paint job. Price? Toyota didn't list it for my tester, but it's around $55,000 to start.

My Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Premium test car was from the 2021 model year and arrived wearing an "Absolute Zero" white paint job. Price? Toyota didn
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

I had already sampled the much-anticipated new Supra. This 2020 GR Supra had a "Renaissance Red" paint job and with an as-tested price of $56,220, a bit of a premium over the $49,990 base model.

I had already sampled the much-anticipated new Supra. This 2020 GR Supra had a "Renaissance Red" paint job and with an as-tested price of $56,220, a bit of a premium over the $49,990 base model.
2020 Toyota Supra GR.      Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

I also tested the Supra's mechanically similar cousin, the BMW Z4 (in convertible trim). BMW and Toyota jointly developed the vehicles.

I also tested the Supra
BMW Z4 Roadster.      Matthew DeBord/BI

The 2021 Supra 3.0 benefited from a passel of updates to the 2020 car,

The 2021 Supra 3.0 benefited from a passel of updates to the 2020 car,
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

The design, of course, wasn't really altered, despite the variety of under-the-hood upgrades.

The design, of course, wasn
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

What's weird the Supra is that don't want to like the busy, folded, swoopy sheet metal, but after I overcome that reflex, the Supra grows on me.

What
Matthew DeBord/Insider

I could do without some the pointless exterior details like the faux door vents, but whatever.

I could do without some the pointless exterior details like the faux door vents, but whatever.
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

You just have to get used to the extraneous plastic.

You just have to get used to the extraneous plastic.
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

My tester has 19-inch forged aluminum wheels front and rear ...

My tester has 19-inch forged aluminum wheels front and rear ...
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

... Along with red brake calipers and Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires all the way around.

... Along with red brake calipers and Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires all the way around.
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

The front end is emblematic of my like/not-like relationship with the Supra. I don't wanna favor those L-shaped scoops, the headlights have that odd thingy extending at the bottom ...

The front end is emblematic of my like/not-like relationship with the Supra. I don
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

... But change the angle and it looks better. Those LED headlights are quite effective, by the way.

... But change the angle and it looks better. Those LED headlights are quite effective, by the way.
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

Change the angle again, and it's kinda too much. Luckily, the front aero isn't so snug to the ground that you have to be scrupulous about entering sloped driveways.

Change the angle again, and it
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

The hatch terminated in a flipped-up spoiler. Which is sort of oddly shaped.

The hatch terminated in a flipped-up spoiler. Which is sort of oddly shaped.
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

Peer closely at the lower part of the back end and you can glimpse a modest diffuser.

Peer closely at the lower part of the back end and you can glimpse a modest diffuser.
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

The dual pipes are a nice touch, as are the broad rear haunches.

The dual pipes are a nice touch, as are the broad rear haunches.
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

As I noted when I first drove the car, designer Nobuo Nakamura clearly executed an overall vision with the Supra. But it might not be for everybody.

As I noted when I first drove the car, designer Nobuo Nakamura clearly executed an overall vision with the Supra. But it might not be for everybody.
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

Let's pop the hatch and see what we can see in the cargo hold.

Let
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

Sigh. There's less that 10 cubic-feet to work with.

Sigh. There
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

You could stow a couple of overnight bags. I think a golf bag might be a challenge.

You could stow a couple of overnight bags. I think a golf bag might be a challenge.
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

Let's slip inside and sample the interior (no fancy names, by the way — just "Black").

Let
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

Its two-seats are cozy, but you knew that. What else could you expect from a sporty coupé?

Its two-seats are cozy, but you knew that. What else could you expect from a sporty coupé?
Matthew DeBord/Insider

Toyota does a nice seat! The Supras have cut-outs to accommodate a racing harness, however, so you get some excellent bolstering.

Toyota does a nice seat! The Supras have cut-outs to accommodate a racing harness, however, so you get some excellent bolstering.
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

The leather wrapped steering wheel is the usual multifunction affair ...

The leather wrapped steering wheel is the usual multifunction affair ...
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

... And the instrument cluster is refreshingly simple.

... And the instrument cluster is refreshingly simple.
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

The Supra has paddle shifters for auto-manual driving ...

The Supra has paddle shifters for auto-manual driving ...
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

... But I wound up using them sparingly. The regular auto delivered plenty satisfying performance.

... But I wound up using them sparingly. The regular auto delivered plenty satisfying performance.
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

The most prominent interior design feature is the carbon-fiber trim.

The most prominent interior design feature is the carbon-fiber trim.
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

There's wireless charging cubby that's actually sort of difficult to access, but it works fine.

There
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

Something to admire: Toyota has enabled just two drive modes for the Supra — Normal and Sport. In a world of seemingly endless configurations, I appreciated the simplicity.

Something to admire: Toyota has enabled just two drive modes for the Supra — Normal and Sport. In a world of seemingly endless configurations, I appreciated the simplicity.
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

The joystick shifter takes some getting used to. But I got the hang of it after a while.

The joystick shifter takes some getting used to. But I got the hang of it after a while.
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

The BMW iDrive-ish buttons-and-knob interface controls ...

The BMW iDrive-ish buttons-and-knob interface controls ...
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

... The 8.8-inch infotainment screen. If it looks as though it was taken from a BMW, it basically was.

... The 8.8-inch infotainment screen. If it looks as though it was taken from a BMW, it basically was.
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

The system requires some initial processing of submenus, but it achieves its objectives. Navigation is good, Bluetooth connectivity is seamless, and there's a USB port for device integration.

The system requires some initial processing of submenus, but it achieves its objectives. Navigation is good, Bluetooth connectivity is seamless, and there
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

Time to pop the hood!

Time to pop the hood!
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

That's a 382-horsepower, inline six-cylinder engine, with a twin-scroll turbocharger. It makes 368 pound-feet of torque.

That
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

The power is sent to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic. The Supra GR I drove last year made 335 horsepower with 365 pound-feet of torque. My 0-60 mph time in 2019 was around four seconds, and the new 3.0 Supra was a tad faster.

The power is sent to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic. The Supra GR I drove last year made 335 horsepower with 365 pound-feet of torque. My 0-60 mph time in 2019 was around four seconds, and the new 3.0 Supra was a tad faster.
2021 Toyota Supra 3.0.      Matthew DeBord/Insider

NOW, let's have a look at the GR Supra 2.0! In "Renaissance Red," it started at around $43,000.

NOW, let
Toyota Supra 2.0      Matthew DeBord/Insider

Time to look under the hood of the lesser Supra.

Time to look under the hood of the lesser Supra.
Toyota Supra 2.0      Matthew DeBord/Insider

Minus the bracing, this guy looks the same as its bigger brother, but under the engine cowling is a 255-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, making 295 pound-feet of torque. That's a significant drop from the six-banger. But the eight-speed auto remains.

Minus the bracing, this guy looks the same as its bigger brother, but under the engine cowling is a 255-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, making 295 pound-feet of torque. That
Toyota Supra 2.0      Matthew DeBord/Insider

The 0-60 mph dash in the 2.0 Supe passed ... well, in a notably more leisurely manner than in the 3.0. It's supposed to be five seconds. I thought it was slower than that in an unofficial test.

The 0-60 mph dash in the 2.0 Supe passed ... well, in a notably more leisurely manner than in the 3.0. It
Toyota Supra 2.0      Matthew DeBord/Insider

But the 2.0 is serious fun once the car gets up to speed. I took it on a long drive — about 200 miles round-trip — and zipped around many a semi on the highway.

But the 2.0 is serious fun once the car gets up to speed. I took it on a long drive — about 200 miles round-trip — and zipped around many a semi on the highway.
Toyota Supra 2.0      Matthew DeBord/Insider

The 2.0 is also lighter than the 3.0 — by just over 200 lbs. On the road, I didn't really detect any major differences, but on windy roads, the 2.0 had a more feathery demeanor.

The 2.0 is also lighter than the 3.0 — by just over 200 lbs. On the road, I didn
Toyota Supra 2.0      Matthew DeBord/Insider

So what's the verdict on the two flavors of Supra?

So what
Matthew DeBord/Insider

To be honest, it's all sort of weird. In the Supra 3.0, I sometimes thought: Overpowered! In the 2.0: Underpowered! But then I hammered the 3.0's throttle or powered out of a curve and thought: Yes! Or it tossed the 2.0 into a corner and thought: Sweet!

It's not hard to see how this shakes down. As I described it to my 14-year-old son as we discussed the pros and cons of each trim, the 3.0 is fast, while the 2.0 is quick. Stated another way, the 2.0 is objectively slow, but you don't really need the speed to have fun with it. And the 3.0 is objectively speedy — and that's a good thing if you want to feel the car serve up its power.

So why did Toyota update the Supra so soon after rolling out the new car? Well, on the 2.0 side, it was to offer a less expensive ride. But for the 3.0, the car has been retuned to greater stability; like a lot of reviewers, I felt like the Supra GR wanted to sling its rear wheels around (not that I asked it to do so, given that I don't track-test vehicles).

So Toyota tamed that eager oversteer by revamping the suspension and drivetrain settings to make the coupé more manageable at speed. In my hands, the 3.0 remained a go-fast-on-the-freeway sportster, but I did notice that the car had a more planted demeanor. On my first go-around, I compared the Supra to the Subaru BRZ, a car that I find wants to rotate at 40 mph. Not a bad thing. But evidently not a good thing as the speedo climbs higher. Ergo, the changes to the Supra.

Ultimately, I'd be happier with the 2.0, as I'd enjoy the driving dynamics at the speeds I typically experience, but when getting on it, I'd have access to all the horsepower the engine has on offer (as well as more turbo lag than with the 3.0, but you can't have everything).

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