New Toyota Supra 2019 review
The all-new Toyota Supra has finally arrived in the UK, but has it been worth the wait?
Fans of Japanese performance cars will be pleased to hear that just like the Nissan GT-R and Honda NSX, the Toyota Supra’s comeback is a success. It’s a brilliant sports car with an agile rear-wheel drive chassis, bold looks and quality damping that works well on British roads. We just wish it had a more exciting engine and a dash more individuality.
The Toyota Supra is finally back in Britain. As one of the giants of the Japanese car scene – along with models such as the Honda NSX and Nissan GT-R – the name still has plenty of cache in the hearts of British buyers. But can the reborn model live up to the legend?
Toyota has been teasing the launch of the car for years now, so you probably already know how you feel about the styling. But whatever your opinion, there’s no arguing that it’s a striking and bold design. It reflects what’s under the skin, too: the long bonnet hides the muscular six-cylinder engine, the double-bubble roof covers a cosy cabin, and the aggressive lip spoiler at the back sits over the two driven wheels.
It follows the same formula as previous Supra models, then, but in order to achieve this Toyota needed to find a partner firm to help fund development. It turned to BMW, which provided plenty of parts including the engine, gearbox, platform and even much of the interior trim.
It’s not like the Supra is just a BMW Z4 in a frock, though, because Toyota’s engineers had input on the platform from the start and then took their car in a different direction to BMW. Despite this, it does still have a lot of BMW characteristics. It’s not just the interior and infotainment, but the power delivery, gearbox calibration, steering feel and driving position will all be familiar to BMW fans.
Car group tests
While the Z4 roadster isn’t really a rival for the Supra coupe, there is still a bit of a Bavarian thorn in the Toyota’s side: the M2 Competition. That car features an even more pumped-up six-cylinder BMW engine, and even comes with a manual gearbox option for core enthusiasts. Yet the Toyota holds its own even against the M2 – and it’s right up there with the Alpine A110 and Porsche 718 Cayman when it comes to driving thrills.
The six-cylinder engine is really smooth, if a little lacking in character. With 335bhp and 500Nm of torque, it’s good for 0-62mph in just 4.3 seconds. That’s more than fast enough to overtake anything on the public road, and it will suit track day fans just fine as well. But its performance isn’t as ballistic as the M2 Competition’s. It’s a shame it doesn’t sound as interesting as that car either – though if the previous model’s reputation is anything to go by, the aftermarket scene is bound to sort that problem out with a trick exhaust or two.
The gearbox is excellent too, blending into the background in normal driving but delivering swift shifts when you ask for them in manual mode. The driving position is superb, and the thin-rimmed steering wheel is miles better than the chunky ones fitted to most BMW M cars these days. It could do with more feedback, but the steering is responsive and accurate enough.
Put your foot down and the nose lifts quite a bit – perhaps because of how low you sit in the cabin and the view out over the long bonnet. Yet that doesn’t reflect on its performance in the corners, as the rigid body of the Supra remains composed though bends, although a Cayman rolls a bit less. Front-end grip is excellent, and in the dry there’s plenty of traction at the rear, although in the wet we found the Supra was a lot more playful when you get on the throttle early.
It’s well balanced and great fun – it’s unashamedly rear-wheel drive, and the electronic limited-slip differential means it’s very agile. Plus, while the ride quality doesn’t have the impressive comfort found in a Cayman, nor is the Supra light enough to skip over the tarmac like an Alpine A110, it’s composed and comfy even on rough roads. Mid-corner bumps don’t unsettle the Supra, so you can feel confident in pushing the car quite hard.
It’s a success when it comes to fun, then, but with a price tag of £54,000 it needs to have premium appeal as well. It’s certainly more lavishly trimmed than an Alpine, and is arguably better inside than a 718 Cayman, too. It’s just a shame that it doesn’t have more individual appeal, as virtually every switch, button and display is from the BMW parts bin.