2020 Toyota GR Supra: Return of a Legend

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Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

“I’m sure for each of you there’s been at least one car in your life that you have a particular attachment to, one car that holds a special place in your heart, and for me the Supra is it,” exclaimed Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda. Well, he’s not kidding since most of us have an emotional connection to a past vehicle that exemplified passion or specific moments in time that defined character. So after a glorious day at Summit Point Raceway with the gifted 2020 Toyota GR Supra and its BMW 3-liter inline 6-cylinder I can substantiate the euphoria emanating from the 40,000 (90% male and 30% Hispanic) potential customers who expressed specific interest in the Japanese halo car.

The high-performance GR Supra goes on sale late July in the U.S. but is already sold out in Japan and Europe. I guess no one can ever say Toyota only makes boring cars! But in fact, Supra is not a vehicle they needed to make, it’s an archetype they wanted to release to represent the highest level of capabilities on the road and racetrack. What began as a passion project is on its way to becoming another phenomenon as if the 80s were back.

Behind the wheel the small coupe is impressive and cut through the short, technical raceway like mice through mazes. With perfect 50/50 weight distribution, the GR Supra effortlessly hits 60 mph from standstill in 4.1 seconds (with Launch Control) which makes it the quickest Toyota ever produced. Well, you can also say the fastest BMW/Toyota ever produced since the GR Supra is an amalgamation of BMW’s precision experience along with Toyota’s legendary DNA. The development began in 2012 as the FT1 and integrates BMW’s famed 3-liter twin-scroll turbocharged inline 6-cylinder with variable valve timing. The engine produces 335-horsepower and 365 lb.-ft. of torque between 1,600-4,500 rpm. Paired with the paddle shifting 8-speed ZF transmission, the package allows you to jet like sprinters when power is called upon. Shifts are quick and acceleration is immediate as the active exhaust rumbles like wildlings in the jungle, especially in Sport mode.

After a few warmup laps on Summit Point Raceway I felt as calm as captains sailing Caribbean waters. Too many well-engineered performance cars require extensive drive time and learning of the various systems to complete simple tasks which ultimately cuts into actual track time. Not here since understanding of the RWD GR Supra was simplistic. The vehicle’s low center of gravity (roofline comes to my chest), staggered 19” forged aluminum rims (10” rear / 9” front) tucked in Michelin Pilot Super Sport summer tires and the electronically controlled active rear sport differential allowed me to meander through the 10-turn, 2-mile road racing circuit with ease. In addition, the wheelbase is 4” shorter and 3” wider than the Toyota 86 and the multi-link rear suspension is engineered with a rear stabilizer bar.

Even though the GR Supra is backed with Brembo 4-piston calipers clamping on 13.7” ventilated rotors, the setup felt heavy and required more pedal pressure than I would have thought. Dully note all models no matter what region you live in will receive the summer tires which incorporate a unique compound specifically developed for this project.

Before stepping inside your newfangled ride there is much to admire on the outside beginning with the sharp and fiery silhouette. The rear window sloping into the spoiler and the double bubble roof from days past are still intact and connect the prior Supra with the future Supra. Lightweight materials such as aluminum doors and hood and composite rear hatch help maintain a healthy curb weight of 3,397 pounds. The brushed stainless steel dual exhausts are on point and the chiseled body and strong hips show off a strong player with speed and power. Moreover, I had a chance to experience the Launch Edition in an Absolute Zero hue with glossy red mirror caps that contrasted perfectly along with the red brakes calipers against the white body. In fact, the first 1,500 units will consist of Launch Edition models in either red, white or black for $55,250.

Once inside you will see that the cabin is narrow and not made for big dudes like myself. But the headroom is good and the leather sport seats are comfortable. More BMW comes into play by way of the iDrive look alike rotary dial, 8.8” touchscreen design and Head-Up Display to name a few. The tilt and scope of the sport-calibrated electric steering wheel is adjusted manually and JBL’s 12-speaker Hi-Fi Surround is worthy of  today’s audio expectations. Carbon fiber trim and wireless charging help elevate the premium feel of the cockpit.

Expect 24 city and 31 highway miles per gallon from the GR Supra and standard safety features like Forward Collison Warning and Lane Departure Warning. Toyota is offering the sports car in eight colors like Nitro Yellow and Downshift Blue and two grades dubbed 3.0 and 3.0 Premium for $49,990 and $53,990 respectively.

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