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Lauren

Supra Review

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Supra review 5th October 2019

 

Well, so much hyperbole, ‘the legend is back’, ‘fifty years of heritage’, ‘racing DNA’, the first global car by Toyota Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s rebranded motorsport department. Then there is the now legendary status of the A80 Supra with Smokey Nagata at the wheel driving at 197mph on the A1M at 4am in the morning. No pressure then? Much talk has been made of the collaboration with BMW and as is the way these days collaborations are extremely common in the car industry. Remember the Toyota/Subaru one with the GT86/BRZ? That turned out alright didn’t it?

 

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The new Supra shares its basic platform in terms of running gear with the BMW Z4, but there are a lot of differences with the most obvious one being that the Supra has a roof and the Z4 does not. Plus it looks so much better. They both share the reworked BMW B58 engine which Toyota improved upon and whilst to the die hards it isn’t a new ‘2JZ’ it is a 3 litre turbocharged straight six. This is a well liked engine with 340bhp though some tests of production cars by tuners have seen up to 380bhp and 369lb/ft of torque, though 500nm as in the spec sheet sounds more. At around 1500kg it’s no lightweight but par for the course for a car in this sector. As we shall find out, it’s not lacking in torque.

 

This car is fully loaded with every conceivable option and many will be relieved to find Apple Car Play in a Toyota. Good news, I think. There were too many options to fully appraise when I only had the car for an hour, but as the only car available for test drives in the whole of the North West this would be something of a taster to gain initial impressions. I didn’t play with the sat nav, turn the stereo on or try out the adaptive cruise and lane assistance options. My mission on a cool and slightly damp morning in Macclesfield was to focus on what it drives like and how it feels.

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Getting into the car it feels similarly low to the GT86 and the driving position feels familiar. Nice and low and with the electrically adjustable seat I’m soon in a good driving position. I ponder if the accelerator pedal is a centimetre further to the right and note it being hinged from the floor.

Richard from RRG Toyota Macclesfield tells me to try ‘comfort’ mode in full automatic as we head through Macclesfield. As I pull away from the lights I notice the throttle is soft in response and accelerates smoothly with no hint of what the power figures suggest. It feels a bit lazy to me, which is I suppose ideal if you’ve got no sensitivity in your right foot, but I prefer a sharper response. Solace is found in the ‘Sport’ button. Much better, it even holds gears longer which is uncanny. As we head out towards what used to be called Fools Nook and with a higher speed limit, I ease the throttle down. Wow, does it go. I’m pushed back in my seat, but soon have to ease off for traffic ahead. It gives a tantalising glimpse of what is to come. I note the seats are comfy and after the first few corners, the steering is direct. The control weights feel much as the GT86. That extra 300kg is well compensated by that powerhouse of an engine.

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We turn left at Boseley and head up the A54 on the uphill in the direction of the Cat and Fiddle (Buxton Road). At last a clear road ahead of me, so I push the throttle to the floor in second, I’m already in manual mode. Wow, it’s quick, really quick, one gear comes after another and I joke to Richard that I better think about trying the brakes as we head into the tricky double right left chicane before snicking up the hill on an unseen left. This is Macclesfield so predictably there’s a small stream crossing the road ahead of us mid-corner. I’m on sticky Michelin Super Sports. No matter though, reminding myself this car is a bit precious and registered to the managing director of RRG, caution wins. The car feels surefooted and has a nice direct feeling front end.

We push up the hill and soon catch a straggler who after a time opts to pull over and let me past. This car has some presence on the road. The A54 has a lot of crests and dips. I push hard along these trying not to get airborne, and the car copes with compressions well, the undertrays remaining as good as new!  The damping is good and the car feels controlled, no float and whilst we are in Sport mode, we are in normal mode for damping which is probably a good thing on a road such as this. There is zero slop in the suspension and as I push hard into an uphill left hander, the car feels direct and well connected.

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What dominates the experience is the power. Perhaps it’s because I’m used to a whole 213bhp and half the torque of the Supra that I am constantly gobsmacked by the mid range torque of this car. It flies and the rate it piles the speed on constantly impresses. What I do notice and perhaps this is due to the shorter wheel base compared to my GT86 is that the Supra responds, really well, but feels like it may be a little more of a handful when the rear does let go. I didn’t turn the stability control or traction off on this drive given it was the only available demonstrator in the northwest, but I could feel it cutting in as I applied the throttle mid corner interrupting my progress and making it feel like I’m point and squirting the car down the straights in-between corners. Given the power of the engine, it’s making the Cat and Fiddle feel a bit too tight and twisty. It’s almost as if it craves some long fast sweepers where I can properly load the suspension and get it to work a bit longer. I’m desperate to try adjusting the throttle mid corner but here I feel like I’m either on it or off it, again stability aids making it feel a bit too binary for my liking. Thinking about it more, as the wheels are smeared with 275 wide rear tyres and 255 up front, with these super sticky tyres it’s not easy to exploit the handling and response on a dry road.

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I need more time behind the wheel to try out the features properly, play with damping modes and it would be interesting to see what it feels like on a wet road. One thing that has not come to mind is the turbo. There doesn’t really seem to be any lag with pushing the throttle, there’s no wait for a response. Whilst I would prefer a more sensitive throttle, this is probably more about my conditioning with my super sensitive throttle on my own car. The engine is very responsive, but perhaps it’s the mid-range torque that really dominates, though it does run freely to the limiter if you’re brave enough. The Supra just simply decimates roads like these, shortening the straights and bringing the next corner to you at an ever increasing rate. My mind is trying to process it all. I should also add that I didn’t try automatic mode as such, though I was really impressed by the speed of the upshifts using the paddles, I was probably in too low a gear a lot of the time, trying to remember I have eight gears to deal with rather than six. User error I admit, but there is a lot going on when you have a lot less time to think between corners!

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With the Cat and Fiddle road bullied into submission by the Supra, I ease off and try to collect my thoughts. This would be a nice car to live with. The interior switchgear will be familiar to anyone who owns a current BMW and this is no bad thing. It feels in a different world compared to the hard plastics in my car and well, one would have to expect that given it’s twice the price. The infotainment systems are obvious BMW and there are a myriad of functions. I admit I was a little too busy driving to get a chance to try everything out. There is also a nifty head up display showing speed limit and speed, though I put the seat on its lowest setting so couldn’t see it, though it can be adjusted I’m told.

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I like the dash with the central tachometer. Why don’t all cars have this, speed is always secondary to revs after all. I’m finding it a bit difficult keeping an eye on the digital speedometer, it would be better placed in the middle of the rev counter I think, but that’s reserved for what gear and drive mode the car is in. It’s probably a matter of getting used to these things though. The seats are nicely supportive and feel better than the seats in my GT86 which are really good. I like the feel of the controls and thinner steering wheel is a nice touch. Visibility is good, though at first I’m drawn to the huge chunky A pillars and small windscreen. Five minutes behind the wheel though and I’m not noticing it. Visibility from the rear view mirror feels a little like looking down a tunnel with the long rear windscreen framing the view, though there is a very good reversing camera that does apparently stop you hitting things as well as highlighting any points where you are close. There’s a decent boot as well, though the shape of the opening would restrict bulky items. Having no rear seats helps though.

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As my drive nears its end, I’m given a lot to think about. Wow, that engine, the power, the ease with which you can make other cars disappear in you rear view mirror, the effortless overtaking, the way in which it pushes you back into your seat. If you’ve had a bad day, you could instantly improve your mood with one deft shove of the accelerator. I never felt like I could really properly assess the handling, which such high limits of grip and the stability control putting me on the naughty step. I absolutely understand that in a car with this kind of power how a less experienced driver could quickly find themselves in a whole lot of trouble very quickly in this car if it allowed more slip. Also with the short wheelbase, you will have to be quick to catch it. I think it will remind me more of driving mid-engined cars where opposite lock has to accurate and quickly applied. Things such as these I want to explore more. The Supra is enticing me to come back as there is unfinished business here. When RRG Macclesfield have their own demonstrator I look forward to getting to know this car better. I like it, a lot.

Familiarity with this car makes me like the looks more. I love how it's got it's own look with a really obvious link to the MKIV Supra and bringing the old badge back. 

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Wow very detailed review Lauren, I had a test drive in one yesterday in the Northwest also, here are my quick thoughts: 

The colour was Navy Blue, bit of a boring colour to be honest and doesnt show the lines of the car off very well however the car itself is amazing! Inside is all leather and like you said it's a similar driving position to the 86, I noticed the sills are very wide and the windscreen is pretty narrow (almost like looking through a letterbox) but it gives the car more of a sporty feeling. 

I was very surprised how fast the car was and how well it put the power down through the rear wheels. The transmission is savage when flooring it and I've never experienced a car which changes gears so quick! When driving it's pretty quiet inside the cabin however outside it sounds unreal. 

However with this being said, when compared to my GT86 I find the A90 boring... yes the Supra is a lot faster but the automatic transmission in it makes the driving experience a bit too lazy because the car does eveything itself. When I was driving home after the test drive, the 86 made me smile more because when getting on it your able to give the car some abuse and I'm physically able change through the gears on the twisty roads myself. 

I'm really hoping Toyota are able to give this new Supra a manual transmission option so it gives the driver more of a connection with the car because I feel that's what's lacking the most. I have no doubt there will be a gradual release of different options and specs and it would also be interesting if the car came with a Targa roof like the MK4.

Because of these reasons mentioned above I'm in no rush to put my name on the waiting list with the hope of Toyota listening to people who have similar views to mine...

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I think though as a daily driver, if running costs are affordable, it'd be a very nice place to be. I'm glad the one I tested was in white, I agree blue is boring and I like how the white highlighted the contrast to the black of the vents. I didn't overly mind the gearbox, that wasn't a big issue, I spent 90% of the time manually swopping cogs, though sure I'd love to drive a manual one to get total control. The Supra is obviously very capable and there may be some joy in it's sharp chassis that requires accuracy I suspect, a great deal more than the beautifully malleable GT86 which you can slide at any angle you want. The Supra is a different proposition with it's squarer wheelbase. I want to spend more time in one to get more of a feel for it and work on feeling the balance more in longer more open and flowing roads. 

I look forward to part two of my review. :)

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The problem I have with the Supra is its price. Not because I don't think it justifies it - it's Cayman-fast and seems to be a genuine Cayman competitor. It's just a bit of an awkward price point.

The thing is that at £50k+ you're spending a lot of money, and at the same sort of money you can get some fairly special stuff; a lovely low mileage Evora 400 for instance.

And I know new vs used is unfair in some ways, but I look at it like this - I bought my GT86 new because at £25k, anything used that's genuinely interesting is likely to be old, high mileage, and have potentially ruinous running costs. The GT86 is, IMO, great value as an ownership proposition (until the inevitable modifications start!)

On the other hand, if you have £50k to spend on an impractical car you can get something that is very interesting, relatively low mileage, and you're less likely to be worried about high running costs.

Going back to the Cayman, I can understand those at £50k because you're getting a foot on the Porsche ladder and some of their magic; most other stuff at that money is a range-topper of something relatively mundane (TT RS, M2, even the Alpine is Renault's halo car) or something where you'd really want a faster version (F Type). The Supra is no worse than any of those, I couldn't imagine spending my own money on any of them.

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1 hour ago, spikyone said:

TOn the other hand, if you have £50k to spend on an impractical car you can get something that is very interesting, relatively low mileage, and you're less likely to be worried about high running costs.

 

I always review cars as every day cars. I've tried impractical cars before, but the problem is you don't end up using them. I like to have just one car. I could cope with a Supra, I have zero interest in having more than one passenger and I probably have someone in the back of my car a couple of times a year, normally lift back from a pub or restaurant or some such. For me it would be factoring in the running costs. I do agree that there is a significant amount of competition in that price sector and it's a lot of money to spend so there is much to consider. 

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4 hours ago, Lauren said:

I always review cars as every day cars. I've tried impractical cars before, but the problem is you don't end up using them. I like to have just one car. I could cope with a Supra, I have zero interest in having more than one passenger and I probably have someone in the back of my car a couple of times a year, normally lift back from a pub or restaurant or some such. For me it would be factoring in the running costs. I do agree that there is a significant amount of competition in that price sector and it's a lot of money to spend so there is much to consider. 

Fair enough. I guess I'm thinking of the Supra as not being especially practical, in the same way as the GT86 isn't practical for every single time I use a car. I have access to another car that gets used for trips to the recycling centre, as an example - but for well over 90% of my journeys the GT86 is fine. Those same journeys would mostly be just as fine in, say, an Evora, and I'd still have access to something truly practical. Or for more boot space and a very different experience, a low mileage Maserati GranTurismo - worth a shout for that engine, never mind the looks...

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Putting a new car up against a secondhand car that’s depreciated loads isn’t ever fair though. Not to mention the Supra will have 5 years of warranty on it - and something like a Masser will come with 100k car bills and no warranty to back you up... so not really a valid comparison. 
 

Having driven the same car Lauren did shortly after I have to say it also left a real impression on me. The power is just nuts, it’s got grip for days and is a very nice place to be. The gearbox was the biggest surprise for me.  I didn’t bother with the paddles, just put it in Sport and let it worry about the cogs. With it using the GPS to help read the road ahead I never found it scrambling for a gear when I planted the throttle, most of the time it was already shifting to the right gear before I was at corner entry, it’s damn near telepathic. I never missed having a manual box, I just got on with pointing the nose where it needed to go and then holding on for grim death whilst the scenery turned into a blur... 😂

...and herein lies the issue. The Supra is ridiculously quick and capable across UK roads, too much so. But driving it is like being in a cocoon. Even in sport mode it’s not that loud and getting towards three figures doesn’t actually feel that quick. The 86 ‘feels’ quicker in that regard, especially since you need to rag it to get the pace. I guess a few aftermarket mods would help in the noise department and it’s not a dealbreaker. Just something to be aware of 😄
 

 

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Thanks for that Lauren,great review.

Can I point out that you can have that very same engine/gearbox combo in the M140i...something to be considered when you think how little you need to pay for one of the last of these compared to a Supra.

However,having briefly owned one, I can say that the rest of the M140i (i.e just about everything other than the engine and box) was distinctly average...and no doubt way below the attributes of the Supra, certainly it seemed to have too much power for my talents and UK road conditions!

 If I was in the market for a Supra I would have to sample an M2 Competition first (similar engine and gearbox again)...but I'm not,so I'll carry on debating what to do/when I'll do something about the GT86's torque dip...next year,I hope!

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Thankyou for your review Lauren.

Personally having driven it at the Thruxton event both on road and track whilst I agree with you about speedometer placement in general I didn't problem find it a problem in the Supra as I really liked the HUD. 

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8 hours ago, Gray said:

Thankyou for your review Lauren.

Personally having driven it at the Thruxton event both on road and track whilst I agree with you about speedometer placement in general I didn't problem find it a problem in the Supra as I really liked the HUD. 

You're welcome. The placement of the HUD is adjustable. If it's easy to do I will adjust next time so I can see it. I had the seat in it's lowest position and I'm 166cm/5ft 5" so it was just a bit too low for me to see. 

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Good review I look forward to part 2, as I already run two vehicles one of which has space and comfort I can't justify the price of a Supra. But can see the appeal of a daily, I'm sure we will get some more opinions from new owners.

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Great review Lauren!

I'm hoping to get my hands on one soon for a Youtube/video review which will be exciting. 

The more I look at a Supra the more I need/want one!

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23 hours ago, Lowe said:

Putting a new car up against a secondhand car that’s depreciated loads isn’t ever fair though. Not to mention the Supra will have 5 years of warranty on it - and something like a Masser will come with 100k car bills and no warranty to back you up... so not really a valid comparison. 

I did acknowledge that it wasn't entirely fair. The idea of "100k car bills" is only relevant if you're buying it for <£20k, as a leggy 25 year old "bargain supercar". The car I linked has 21st century build quality and only 6k on the clock. You could merrily add another 40 or 50k with little more than routine consumables.

If you're spending £50k on a coupe/sports car, you're going to be financially comfortable, so you can afford to run a relatively new GranTurismo. I did initially mention an Evora as something more directly comparable and that would doubtless be a little cheaper to run. As £50k-ish cars, I would take one of those two (or perhaps a late V8 Vantage) with under 10k on it in preference to anything that you can buy for £50k new because they are far more special and exciting.

At most price points you can't pick up something low mileage and more exciting by going used. At £50k I think you absolutely can. For me, that makes it a valid comparison.

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Good read thanks for sharing. :)

 

Sounds like it makes an excellent daily driver as you say. Will be interesting to see how the running costs of one pans out. BMW part sharing, more weight and bigger tyres usually equals higher bills.

Saw a good few of them on my travels in Europe this year and agree that the colour makes or breaks them. All the rentals at the nurburgring are blue and black and do nothing for the car. However I have seen silver, white and yellow in the metal and they show the contours of the car well.

For me though personally it boils down to the speed you can use and feel. The 86 for me is perfect in tuned NA form, can drive the wheels off of it and it feels fast in isolation from other cars as it transmits a good feeling of speed. Also you can get near the limits of grip and stroke through the gears and revs without massively endangering your driving licence. :lol:

I drove a new Civic type R FK8 recently. MASSIVLY capable car but you would never get near the limits most of the time and are doing mach 10 before it feels fast.

As much as I wish the 86 was more refined when motorway hacking it does loose its sense of speed as soon as modern cars become refined cocoons isolating you away.

 

Anyway this is not a point in saying anything against the supra!

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On ‎10‎/‎14‎/‎2019 at 10:40 PM, spikyone said:

I did acknowledge that it wasn't entirely fair. The idea of "100k car bills" is only relevant if you're buying it for <£20k, as a leggy 25 year old "bargain supercar". The car I linked has 21st century build quality and only 6k on the clock. You could merrily add another 40 or 50k with little more than routine consumables.

If you're spending £50k on a coupe/sports car, you're going to be financially comfortable, so you can afford to run a relatively new GranTurismo. I did initially mention an Evora as something more directly comparable and that would doubtless be a little cheaper to run. As £50k-ish cars, I would take one of those two (or perhaps a late V8 Vantage) with under 10k on it in preference to anything that you can buy for £50k new because they are far more special and exciting.

At most price points you can't pick up something low mileage and more exciting by going used. At £50k I think you absolutely can. For me, that makes it a valid comparison.

I think the other main worry for a 50k Toyota is the "badge"

 

A lot of the clients unlike ourselves would much rather finance a 50k sports car from BMW like an M2 etc rather then a Toyota. Would be my gut feeling.
Also as you say for your 50k you can get a lot of new or nearly new car. If it was me I wouldn't know where to start :blink: Wish it was though!

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