Friday, November 27

Toyota Supra Gains Muscle and Finesse for 2021

CHATHAM, Mass. – Toyota has made several major revisions to its iconic GR Supra sports car/GT (Gran Turismo) for the 2021 model year, ranging from more power for the 3.0 Premium version, to a limited-edition A91 model to a new-for-North America two-liter four cylinder one to a racetrack-ready GT4.

Sporting new-for-2021 distinctive red Brembo calipers up front, the GR Supra 3.0 Premium we sampled for an abbreviated period (more anon) boasted 382 horsepower (up from 355 last year) and a retuned chassis when compared to the previous version.

Generally, the vehicles I drive today are much more road-competent than those in years past. Even the largest pickup trucks, SUVs and luxury cars do not have sloppy steering or floating, choppy rides as might have once been common.

But the Supra, as any sports car should, steers more precisely, tracks the road’s curves and camber changes more decisively and, in general, provides much more of a feeling for the driver of being one with the car than the average vehicle.

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Other ingredients in the creation of this perception are the leather-clad, torso-hugging sport seats which keep driver and passenger firmly placed, regardless of how aggressive you are while utilizing the Supra’s driving capabilities.

Chassis and powertrain provide foundation for fun

The turbocharged six-cylinder engine puts its 382hp and 368 pounds-feet of torque to the road through the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Despite producing ample power, the Supra returned excellent fuel economy – 26.7 miles per gallon for me, which was slightly above the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s 25 mpg rating for combined city (22 mpg) and highway (30 mpg) driving.

When it comes to sports cars, sheer power – and the Supra can sprint from 0 to 60 miles per hour in between 3.9 seconds according to Toyota – is not the key to driving enjoyment: they must be able to handle and stop with alacrity. The 2021 GR Supra accomplishes this goal.

For this model year Toyota, seeking increased roll resistance and enhanced cornering stability, retuned the Supra 3.0 chassis, adding lightweight aluminum braces that tie the strut towers to the radiator support to increase lateral rigidity, along with front and rear bump stops and new damper tuning.

Revised programming for the electric power steering (EPS), Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Active Differential works in concert with the hardware changes to make the 2021 Supra more stable through quick transitions, such as compound turns.

The physical pieces include double-joint type MacPherson-like struts up front and five-arm construction multi-link in the rear, with both ends featuring a stabilizer bar (23.5mm front/18mm rear).

Those red calipers live inside 19-inch forged aluminum wheels (nine inches wide in the front/10 in the rear) shod with 255/35 ZR19 front/275/35 ZR19 rear run-flat Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires (again, more about the tires to come).

Brembo provides the four-piston fixed front calipers grabbing 13.7-inch ventilated rotors, while  single-piston floating calipers in the rear are joined by 13.6-inch ventilated rotors.

Anti-lock braking (ABS), brake assist (BA) and an electronic parking brake are part of the overall braking package, one which brings the 3,400-pound two-seater to a halt quickly and straight.

Advance driver-assist systems increase safe operation

All Supra models come with advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) like pre-collision alert with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with steering assist, automatic high beams and rearview camera.

In addition, our sample included the Safety and Technology Package which added the following ADAS: blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, parking sensors with emergency braking function (AEB) and dynamic radar cruise control.

Intimate, comfortable and technologically advanced cockpit

The earliest sports cars espoused a minimalist approach when it came to driver and passenger comfort and convenience. Audio – you cannot even call what they had infotainment systems – was generally a simple radio, maybe AM/FM, with a single speaker.

That has changed. Today’s sports cars, as epitomized by the GR Supra, drive better than those of yore and come with amenities to rival anything on the road.

An 8.8-inch display serves as the centerpiece of the infotainment system as well as vehicle settings. Knobs, buttons, voice activation as well as a large, console-mounted dial control the various functions including the audio (AM/FM/SiriusXM satellite radio/smartphone streaming/Apple CarPlay/Android Auto), ADAS, comprehensive dual-zone climate control, and various other vehicle systems.

The Safety and Technology package adds a 12-speaker JBL boosted audio system, navigation and wireless connection for the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (which means you can use these services while leaving your smartphone either in your pocket or on the included wireless-charging pad – no cables necessary!).

The cabin is snug – once you’re settled in the heated leather sports seats, electrically adjustable for both driver (with memory) and passenger (this is a true two seater; not even a semblance of a back seat to be found) you are in for an intimate, comfortable driving and riding experience. The exhaust  is distinctively raspy, but not so obtrusive to make conversations difficult between the closely seated occupants.

One of the systems displayed is a comprehensive overview of the Supra’s tires. It shows all four along with the pressure in each and each one’s instantaneous temperature. I discovered this system’s capabilities, unfortunately, as well as Toyota’s standard 24/7 roadside-assistance program, when the right-front tire became problematic thanks to a piece of metal dead center in the tread.

The initial warning was low pressure accompanied by a message to keep my speed below 80 miles per hour and put air in the tire, which I did, and drove home. The next morning, the warning said the run-flat tire had 0 PSI and to keep the speed below 50 mph. Back to the service station at low speed and a fill to 38 PSI, but within after a five-minute drive from the service station to my driveway, the PSI had dropped to 32.

I followed the next step on the center display – call Toyota’s roadside assistance, which directed to complete an online form. The result – a flatbed arrived, collected the Supra and took it Orleans (Mass.) Toyota for a new tire.

Simple, efficient and I was back on the road the next day.

This exercise amplified Toyota’s overall concept of a modern sports car: provide all the sensory and dynamic characteristics of a traditional two-seater of this genre with the efficiencies and conveniences of a modern motor vehicle. In other words – you can have your cake and eat it too!

The price for admission into Toyota’s vision of the modern sports-car world ranges from $42,990 for the four-cylinder version to $54,795 for the special-edition A91. The 3.0 Premium I drove, with options, totaled $56,760 (including $995 destination charge), a very segment competitive price.

Next week TBR Drives the Toyota Avalon.

About Author

Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Senior Editor for The BRAKE Report. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.