“Save the drama for your baby mama.” For whatever reason, that quote was constantly being thrown around when individuals with a flair for theatrics went out of their way to cause a ruckus when I was in elementary school. I don’t have a baby mama. I do, however, have a wife who despises drama and she loves to use that saying. She knows that there’s a new 2020 Toyota Supra. She also knows that BMW had a heavy hand in helping Toyota bring the Supra back. But she’s not dwelling on it, because: a) she hates drama and believes it should be saved for a baby mama; b) sees the Supra as an entirely different vehicle from the BMW that shall not be named; c) she doesn’t really care all that much about cars.
In all seriousness, the Supra has been birthed in one of the most dramatic automobile deliveries of all time. Under scrutiny from “Fast & the Furious” fanatics, boomers with enough funds to purchase one, millennials looking for something to buy when the sixth owner is done beating it to death, and high schoolers that are getting rich playing Fortnite, the Supra has already been prescribed 10 different medications for anxiety. Expectations suck for everyone.
Thank BMW or Toyota for having the stones to build the Supra, because it’s a damn good sports car. See, the thing about expectations is that some can live up to them, and the fifth-gen Supra certainly does. Against naysayers, Internet trolls, and die-hard enthusiasts, the two brands have come together to rewrite the Supra’s history. Only those that believe humans should still be brawling amongst dinosaurs and gathering nuts to be cooked in caves will disagree.
Will the Supra appeal to everyone? Certainly not. Is the Supra the best sports car on the road? Probably not. Is the Supra the cure for nostalgia and a better option than paying six figures for the coveted fourth-gen model? Nope.
What the Supra is, is a value-packed sports car with BMW engineering and Toyota badges. It’s a Mazda MX-5 Miata with more power and a hard top; it’s a habanero on a jalapeño budget; it’s a faithful friend that’s now a supermodel. Look past the Supra’s contentious upbringing – if you can – and the Supra is such an impressive machine.
Put your pitchforks and torches away – or keyboards and Reddit accounts – because the Supra is a bona fide sports car. It thrills and arouses in all the right ways. The high you get when driving it is addictive, and more of a proper buzz than shoving a wad of dip against your lip for the first time. Take corners aggressively and your passenger is sure to be just as nauseous as if he or she had swallowed a bit of that nicotine-filled tobacco.
As every auto person worth his or her oil knows by now, power comes from a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six. No, Toyota doesn’t make any inline-six engines. Yes, this is from a well-known German brand that makes some sweet inline-sixes. Get over that and you get to bask in the visceral sweetness that is the B58.
You might disagree with the engine, but there’s no way to disagree with just how potent it makes the Supra. Toyota claims zero to 60 mph happens in 4.1 seconds, but by Jove, it feels quicker. My butt and head tell me that it’s a sub-four-second car, because the way it sprints to 60 mph is astonishing. Based on the way it gets to 60 mph, you would never guess that power is rated at a modest 335 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque. Again, the two most important parts of my body tell me something’s up.
The inline-six pops and bangs more than that motorcycle your neighbor’s teen just purchased. While they’re manufactured, they certainly help make the Supra feel faster. In Sport mode, the Supra is M870 shotgun at an enclosed shooting range loud, popping during downshifts and snorting at upshifts. It’s childish and hilarious, and I loved every second of it. By the way, those upshifts and downshifts happen rapidly thanks to the eight-speed automatic. If you’re not a five-year-old trapped in a middle-aged body, you’ll like Normal, which stops the pops and bangs.
We (Right Foot Down’s talented driver and Editor in Chief, Will Byrd, and I) managed to find a tight, bendy section with undulations, cracks, divots, and turtles to test on. The stretch of pavement became loving known as our own Toge. On the verge of becoming nuisances to people that actually lived near the road, we pushed the Supra through what some would call a spirited Sunday drive. Grins, massive ear-to-ear grins followed.
Corners, that’s where you feel just how magical the Supra is. It corners like a Terrier that’s mistakingly snagged a chili pepper that dropped on the floor. Light, surefooted, extremely capable, good look catching up to a Supra (or a Terrier) if you’re not in something that’s properly fast. The short wheelbase results in a car that turns when you want it to, almost instinctively.
Grip is available in bushel loads, especially at the front end. And there’s feedback coming from the front. You won’t feel every little crack in the road, though you will feel how many ridges were on the turtle’s shell that you just crunched over. For the road, the adaptive suspension manages to be a good blend of firm and soft. There is quite a lot of body roll for a vehicle with this kind of performance, but that’s not exactly a bad thing. You know exactly when the tail’s about to go out of shape because of it and it makes the Supra feel so much more approachable from the get-go.
The Supra does have its fault. We were really hoping for more feedback from the steering wheel. It’s well weighted, quick, and accurate enough, but not as conversational as we wanted. With its short wheelbase and busy suspension over bumps, the Supra can be twitchy. It’s not unnerving, but not exactly confidence inspiring when trying to explore one’s limits.
We drove multiple cars before and after we tested the Supra: ones with V8s, ones with manual transmissions, faster ones, and ones without roofs that shared quite a lot of equipment with the Supra. But none left me with the same sense of joy as the Supra did. Based on performance alone, it’s the one I’d sell every one of my belongings for. It’s an incredible sports car that will fill every one of your dreams after a short drive. Marvelous engine, wonderful grip, juvenile noises, swift shifts, from a performance standpoint, the Supra has returned in a lust-worthy package.
Love performance? You’ll love the Supra. Like a quiet, comfortable interior? Ehh, you’ll be disappointed.
Even if you were to find yourself alone on a Sunday drive, you’d be cramped. Quarters are tight in here. Despite the double-bubble roof, individuals that have been endowed with the curse of abnormal height may find a lack of headroom when attempting to slide inside with a helmet. NBA basketball players might find headroom to be lacking in general.
The view out of the confined cockpit isn’t all that great, either. The high hips, stubby front nose, and narrow midsection result in terrible visibility. The front end isn’t all that bad, though parking could be an issue, while the rear is more of a hope and a prayer. Tiny rear quarter-windows make seeing out of the back almost impossible, and if you’re going to make a lane change, you might as well stick your head out to the window to ensure nothing’s in your blind spot. May we make the humble suggestion of getting the optional Driver Assist Package that brings blind spot monitoring.
One slides into a vehicle like the Supra and has some expectation of things being tighter than a college dorm room. But what you don’t expect is just how loud it gets in there. It’s not engine noise or the pops and bangs from the exhaust system, it’s wind and road noise. This thing, at highway speeds, is loud to where you won’t be able to whisper to your passenger. That’s not a huge issue, because people don’t usually do that.
The issue that one can’t overlook is the atrocious, and frankly unacceptable, way that wind buffeting happens with the windows down. At speeds above 25 mph, wind travels through the windows and gets trapped in the rear hatch. It then swirls around back there, creating a miniature tornado that will blow your eardrums. How other outlets haven’t picked up on this is surprising. For a car that costs this much and comes from a brand like Toyota, it’s inexcusable. I don’t know how they would’ve fixed it, but you simply cannot drive with the windows down in this thing unless all you’re doing is dotting around at 25 mph.
Another issue we found was with the touchscreen. Before that, let’s just say that everything feels and is laid out in an upscale manner. The instrument cluster is super cool, the round steering wheel isn’t all that thick, but it feels great, and everything you interact with on a daily basis is lovely for the price point. But we ran into an issue where the 8.8-inch display that’s one of those afterthoughts of being tacked onto the dashboard buzzed at roughly 3,500 rpm. It was like clockwork. Stay in gear, give a little throttle, and a piercing buzz emanated the cockpit. You could even get it to constantly buzz by keeping the rpm at the right level.
This wasn’t a pre-production vehicle, but a well-equipped Premium trim (the middle one). How this vehicle left the factory with that defect and into the hand of journalists is a mystery. Furthermore, if I spent around $55,000 and a car, any car, had this issue, I would promptly return it. Even as the sixth owner, I think the issue would drive me crazy to where I wouldn’t be able to own it.
Everything else is fantastic. The rear hatch, once you figure out how it opens, is spacious enough for a few duffel bags. The seats are well sized and have the right amount of bolstering – some may complain about shoulder room, but it wasn’t an issue for me. More importantly, styling from the vehicle that shall not be named is different enough to where you feel like you’re getting a unique vehicle.
Before you make your own opinion on what Toyota needs to change on the Supra, try to find a sample to look at in the real world. This is not a photogenic machine. Its proportions don’t quite look right in pictures – the roof looks too high and the front nose looks too similar to the Formula One appendages. But in person, the way people stare at this thing, you swear you’re behind the wheel of a Ferrari.
The Supra garners attention like no other vehicle – for good and bad. And for good reason. It’s athletic, the right amount of JDM and high end, and has more curves than an influencer on Instagram. I’m partial to the back end, with its spaceship taillights, integrated spoiler, and massive hips. It doesn’t look like the BMW that shouldn’t be named and it doesn’t really look like anything else on the market.
As everyone’s pointed out by now, the major issue with the Supra is the number of fake vents on the outside. They’re everywhere and none of them serve a purpose. For such a performance vehicle, one would’ve expected Toyota to find a way to make these vents functional. Nope.
The wheels on the base trim and the Premium don’t look all that great either. Their 10-spoke wheels with five spokes being finished in chrome or something shiny, but on the majority of exterior colors, the shiny portion looks cheap. The all black wheels on the Launch Edition look much better.
Wheels and fake vents are the only two things I can find fault with on the outside. Both are small gripes, but they exist. If I were to find myself with a Supra one day, the first thing I would do is switch out the wheels for something a little more fitting. I’m sure BBS have something that would fit. The next thing I would do, is find an aftermarket company that sells some components to make a few of the vents functional.
The Supra’s back baby and it’s got a chip on its shoulder. Modern problems call for modern solutions, which is why the modern Supra is the solution to what consumers with $50,000 to spend on a car should buy. Unfortunately, dealers have already tacked insane markups on the Supra. But for those that can find a relatively affordable one, they should absolutely buy it.
No one enjoys living up to expectations. Living in the shadow of a giant – whether it’s a family member, a neighbor, or a colleague – brings expectations, which are always difficult to meet. But the Supra surpasses them, in its own way. It’s a wonderful sports car for modern times. It’s got everything one would want out of a sports car at an affordable price. That last bit is the most surprising thing about the Supra. Wait for prices to come down after a few years, and anyone with a steady job and a small savings account can own one.
There is a mahoosive elephant in the room that I’ve been overlooking: BMW. There’s no getting around the fact that the Supra is more of a BMW than a Toyota. Some may argue that it’s a horrible fate for the Supra, but I don’t agree. A more horrible fate would be the nameplate dying out for good after the fourth generation disappeared. Take a look around you, sports cars aren’t exactly flying off the shelves and automakers aren’t that keen to churn them out. This is what had to happen for the Supra to return, so it’s better than nothing.
And let’s for a minute discuss what would’ve happened if Toyota went with another partner other than BMW for its sports car. If it went with Nissan it would’ve been a flop with an outdated V6, Porsche would’ve resulted in a six-figure price tag and the engine in an odd place, and working with Subaru could’ve seen an all-wheel-drive machine with much less power. These are all hypotheticals and I doubt Toyota would’ve worked with any of those brands for the Supra, but BMW’s not a horrible partner if you have to find someone to tango with on the dance floor.
Beyond being a modern interpretation of the line, what the Supra really is, is a sports car for future gear heads to look up to. I could see elementary school kids having the Supra as their background desktops on their iPhones or selfies with the vehicle for their Twitter accounts.
It’s a vehicle I have put on my bucket list to own and by George I will own one at some point. Some will get hung up on the fact that the new Supra would have a questionable DNA test compared to the holy grail – the previous-gen model. Putting genes aside it’s a good thing the Supra’s back, because it gives people that love driving another incredible option to choose from in a shrinking litter.