Some people call me a traditionalist, others a purist, i just tell things as i see them. Toyota lifted the embargo on reviews of the highly awaited 2020 Supra today and they have been mostly positive. A while ago while banking at Chase i noticed the teller, a young man in his late 20’s, wore a badge saying “i am saving for… the new Supra” obviously a campaign by Chase to get people to save more but it started a conversation between him and i, excited he croaked about how he has already made a deposit and what an awesome car it is, i said shame about being an automatic only to which he quickly rebutted it is much quicker than a manual, i agreed, wished him a great day and left.
The truth is the “original” supra from the late 90’s sucked, yes i am referring to the twin turbo version not the N/A base model which was largely forgotten. History and nostalgia has a way of romanticizing old cars, the reason why it was so popular and legendary was because of the aftermarket, heck it was the hero car in the original fast and furious movie and the engine was famous for handling obscene amounts of boost from bigger single turbos with ease. See, straight out of the showroom it was… meh, there was nothing particularly great about it, the competitors at the time like the Mazda RX7 was lighter and nimbler, the Nissan 300zx was quicker and the Acura NSX wiped the floor with all of them
And the new supra?…it is basically a less powerful BMW Z4, and there’s nothing wrong with that. For me personally it’s too heavy 3,400 lbs (thats about 100lbs heavier than a 4cyl Camry), automatic only (Toyota bragged about the ZF 8 speed auto saying it was almost as good as a dual clutch…almost) and too compromised.
that’s right ladies and gentlemen, the body work consist of a variety of fake scoops and vents that are not functional, not only that, when you got under the skin you notice all kinds of “missing” components, there are spaces in the engine bay for additional bracing but there is no additional bracing, there is space in the rear end for a differential cooler but there is no differential cooler, so what gives?… why not?. Toyota claims it is for the aftermarket tuners to go crazy with but i think they are planning on (a) selling upgrades separately and or (b) letting the hype sell the car for a few years then when sales start to slack release a hotter version with all the “missing ” components installed.
Toyota can’t even get their story straight with the Supra, during development an engineer told a journalist the 4 cylinder version would be the enthusiast choice as it was lighter and nimbler…then at launch they said it was compulsory that the new supra had a straight six engine hence they had to source it from BMW as it would be too expensive to build their own. why?… why must it have a straight 6 engine? because the old one did?
I understand that sports cars are low volume cars and making the case to build one is hard hence they had to partner with BMW to share costs like they did with Subaru for the FRS, but why didn’t they just develop the FRS platform further, remove the back seats and replace it with additional bracing, swap out the engine with the one from the STI and put bigger wheels, tires, brakes and widen the fenders and voila, you would have had a lighter more powerful supra.
And there is the cost, for $50k there are a lot of better sports cars, the Camaro SS1LE would destroy it (both in a straight line and around a track), so would the mustang GT with the level 2 performance pack. Heck you could even get a used BMW M2, BMW M4, Porsche boxster, C7 Corvette or Porsche Caymen. All much better options and available with manuals.
And it is no coincidence that Ford is readying an upgraded turbo mustang for 2020 with more power than the supra that will be a lot cheaper too.
I applaud Toyota for bringing some excitement back to its line up but…don’t compromise, enthusiasts are not easily fooled. The car may very well sell a lot, and i hope it does but for the enthusiasts i say wait, save your pennies. Like the 1990’s Supra this the is sports car equivalent of a GED, a good enough diploma.
Score: Speed -6, Balance -7, Driving Feel -6 – for a Total score of 6.4