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2021 Toyota Supra Review

LIKES
  • Sleek shape
  • Powerfully quick
  • Astaire agility
  • A sub-$50,000 bargain
  • Excellent base-car handling
DISLIKES
  • So obviously a BMW
  • So many curves
  • No manual transmission
  • Fidgety limited-slip handling
BUYING TIP
  • Stick with the Supra 2.0 shod with the optional bundle of tech tricks; it’s an excellent sports-car value, with two brands’ worth of pedigree.
The 2021 Toyota Supra gains a less powerful, more intriguing turbo-4 edition.

The 2021 Toyota Supra marks year two of sports-car excellence. The Supra came back in 2020 after a 21-year hiatus; now based on BMW Z4 running gear, it’s a fluent performer in turbo-6 or new turbo-4 form, with the usual two-seater concessions to space and price. 

We give it a TCC Rating of 6.4 out of 10

Toyota sells the 2021 Supra in 2.0, 3.0, 3.0 Premium, and A91 versions. The 2.0 has a turbo-4 engine with 255 horsepower, while 3.0 editions score a 382-hp turbo-6. With rear-wheel drive and an 8-speed automatic, the slower Supra still shoots to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds and to a top speed of 155 mph; the 3.0 hits the 60-mph mark in 3.9 seconds. Straight-line performance puts the Supra in rare air, but we prefer the turbo-4 car’s more predictable and athletic moves (though we haven’t had track time in the revised 3.0, thanks to pandemic). The Supra’s five-link rear suspension, quick steering, and stiff ride elevate the base car’s game, while electronic controls for the rear end and the damping muddy the 3.0’s otherwise slot-car moves.

Toyota styles the Supra with the excess it’s applied to everything it’s touched, including the Camry. We could do with fewer strakes and scoops, but the Supra’s outline is rakish and ready to rock, while the cabin keeps it on the DL. Passengers fold into supportive bucket seats, but the Supra’s not made for more than 10.2 cubic feet of cargo, or for truly large adults.

BMW supplies the safety and tech gear for the 2021 Supra, which means standard automatic emergency braking and now, a standard 8.8-inch touchscreen for infotainment. Apple CarPlay in wireless form costs extra on base cars, and so do blind-spot monitors and adaptive cruise control on all versions. For more than $50,000, the high-end Supra gets wireless smartphone charging, 500-watt audio, and heated leather seats.

Styling
The 2021 Supra bristles with surface detail, but quiets down inside.

Toyota ladles on the surface interest and scoop count in the latest Supra, and while it works in overall proportions, it could use a style edit. We give it a 7 for its tidy cockpit and its helmet-like outline.

The Supra has the squat, coiled-spring look of a performance machine, with muscular rear haunches and a long hood that telegraph its intentions. It also has a wide-ranging palette of character lines, curves, and scoops which draw from its essentially handsome shape. The grille’s horse-collar outline goes in one aesthetic direction, the front air ducts another, the lines that accentuate its stubby shape yet another. Exciting? Sure, but the Supra gets exhausting to study after a while.

The simpler cockpit wears its confidence in discreet shades of black, black, and black. A newly standard 8.8-inch touchscreen stands at attention on the dash, and oddly, the Supra has a buttress that separates the driver from the console, not the passenger (as you’d see in a Jag F-Type). Little else about the cabin acknowledges the passenger. It’s quintessentially BMW, aloof without being cold, replete with digital displays and glints of metallic trim.

Performance
Agile and grippy, the 2021 Supra gets better the less you spend.

Toyota places the Supra at the top of its performance ladder, above the 86 coupe that’s longer, slower, and slimmer. The Supra makes up for the 86’s shortcomings with excellent grip and far more power; it’s an autocross slayer that’s fun on a racetrack, with an asterisk.

We give it a 9 for performance, thanks to excellent power in either form and supreme agility, provided you choose carefully.

The Supra’s borrowed-from-BMW running gear gets breathed on this year. Last year’s 3.0-liter turbo-6 picks up 14 percent more horsepower, rising from 335 hp to 382 hp. Torque is up 3 pound-feet, to 386 lb-ft. The big boost in output drops the 0-60 mph times from 4.1 to 3.9 seconds, and boost seems to be available anytime, since peak torque shows up at 1,600 rpm. It’s electronically limited to 155 mph. The turbo-6 has a lovely, sonorous sound, and flicks through its paddle-shifted, 8-speed-automatic gears with military swiftness.
It may be heresy, but the 255-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 works well enough for us, thanks to its 295 lb-ft of torque, identical transmission and identical gearing. It rifles along and grunts out enough torque to hurl the Supra to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds or less. It lacks the epic soundtrack of the 6-cylinder, but it also lacks the more expensive Supra’s high-tech adaptive dampers and electronically controlled limited-slip differential.

Those pieces confused the handling of the Supra 3.0 we sampled last year during our Best Car To Buy 2020 track time. The turbo-6 Supra has a five-link rear suspension, double-jointed front strut suspension, and Comfort/Sport mode adjustable dampers. Shorter than an 86 but far more powerful, it proffered great grip, and exceptionally quick moves in and out of corners. Its electronically controlled differential would fidget as it shifted power across the rear axle on off-camber corners, and that made it difficult to press the Supra to its limit. 

Toyota had set up track time with the newly refined version, but canceled it in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We haven’t been able to test what Toyota says are more refined moves thanks to better programming and a reinforced front end with tower braces and new damper tuning on the turbo-6 car.

They did provide both cars for test drives on public roads, where we fell under the Supra 2.0’s spell. With a similar suspension setup, but with smaller 18-inch wheels and less capable brakes, the turbo-4 Supra still felt more predictable and tossable than the turbo-6 car—in part because it weighs just 3,181 pounds, versus the 3.0’s 3,400 pounds. Stable but stiff of ride, the Supra 2.0 neatly flicked its way through 90-degree corners in Florida farm country, without a trace of the 3.0’s indecision, with a harmony between its steering feedback and ride control that made up for its power deficit. Big-horsepower sports cars exist for bragging rights, but sports cars as drift-worthy as the Supra 2.0 don’t need to brag.

Comfort & Quality
The Supra does the most it can with excellent sport seats, and a tiny cargo space.

We come to a 4 for comfort in the 2021 Supra. The two-seater has excellent front buckets wrapped in leather and Alcantara, with a wide range of adjustment. It doesn’t have a back seat, room for four adults, or very much cargo space.

The Supra cockpit wants for little, once you get in it. The low roof and small doors mean big drivers must fold in half and lean back just to clamber behind the wheel. Even with the steering wheel and seat set just so, the driving position is a little short of ideal, though the bolstering is snug and can be snugged in more tightly. Base seats offer 8-way adjustment, while others have 14-way adjustment.

Tall drivers will wish for more leg room, and in any case, the driver and passenger will find their knees pushed outboard, thanks to the wide transmission tunnel.
As a hatchback, the Supra has just enough useful space for soft luggage. Its 10.2-cubic-foot cargo hold is long and shallow.

Toyota fits the stark Supra interior with black trim and black suede and leather, but it’s tightly fitted and neatly stitched, as it should be for its price.

Safety
Don’t expect any Supra crash tests any time soon.

The Supra’s a low-volume sports car, so we don’t expect the NHTSA or the IIHS to put one through their testing regiments. All Supras come with automatic emergency braking and active lane control, and can be fitted with blind-spot monitors, parking sensors, and adaptive cruise control.

The stability-control system in the 2021 Supra grants lots of track leeway in its Sport and Off modes, but defaults to On for driver safety.

Features
Raucous performance meets reasonable value in the 2021 Supra.

The 2021 Toyota Supra adds a turbo-4 version and gains a wider infotainment screen this year, but its warranty and options are just average, and base models require a package to get Apple CarPlay. We give it a 6 out of 10 here.

The 2021 Supra comes in 2.0, 3.0 and 3.0 Premium trim levels, plus an A91 Edition. 

The 2.0 has automatic emergency braking, LED headlights, 18-inch wheels, an 8.8-inch gauge cluster, Alcantara/leather seats, keyless start, and 4-speaker audio satellite radio with an 8.8-inch center display—but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. 
We’d order ours with the only option package, which adds blind-spot monitors, front and rear parking sensors, navigation, 500-watt JBL audio, wireless Apple CarPlay, and adaptive cruise control. 

Six-cylinder Supra 3.0 coupes share the 2.0’s features and options, but have 4-way power front seats and 10-speaker audio.

The 3.0 Premium model gets an 8.8-inch touchscreen with navigation, a 500-watt JBL sound system with 12 speakers, wireless phone charging, wireless Apple CarPlay compatibility, a color head-up display, leather upholstery, heated seats, and larger rear brakes. A91 Edition Supras get blue seat stitching and two distinct paint colors. The latter two models can also be fitted with adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, and parking sensors.

All Supras have a clumsy BMW-derived infotainment interface that gets touchscreen input as well as CarPlay compatibility. It’s a must to avoid the rotary-knob inputs though the display shrinks down the CarPlay interface more than it should.
The Supra’s warranty is average, at 3 years/36,000 miles, including two years of free maintenance.

Fuel Economy
Gas mileage? Yes, the Supra gets some.

Fuel economy isn’t a sports car’s prime directive, but the 2021 Supra fares fine anyway. We give it a 5 out of 10 thanks to its EPA-rated 22 mpg city, 30 highway, 25 combined in turbo-6 versions. 

Numbers for the turbo-4 aren’t out yet, and may help its score. We’ll update this section when we know more.

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