It’s been 21 long years since the death of the Mark IV Toyota Supra, a Japanese supercar in its own right. It was born in an era when boosted beauties like the RX-7, GTR Skyline, and 3000GT were boldly representing the very best of the Land of the Rising Sun.
This fourth and last generation of the Supra boasted a nearly indestructible in-line six cylinder with twin turbos. Its performance-enhancing potential appeared limitless, with the 2JZ engine surpassing 1,000 hp in many instances without much internal engine reinforcement.
It’s no wonder then that the Supra has garnered such a huge fan following. Loyalists were rightfully thrilled with the news that finally, over two decades later, a new Supra was going to hit the scene. And then word of Toyota’s tight partnership with BMW in the project broke, and I think we were all left wondering what to expect. Some expressed quiet skepticism, and others shouted out their indignation on every online platform they could find.
To be fair, in partnering for a project as monumental as the return of the Supra, Toyota could’ve done a lot worse than BMW—a manufacturer who’s all but mastered the long nose, short deck sports car. With the Porsche 718 Cayman S in their sights as the primary developmental benchmark, Toyota and BMW rolled up their sleeves in a partnership with something big to prove.
Starting with the same platform as the BMW Z4 convertible, the new Supra uses the highly impressive B58 BMW engine. This turbocharged 3.0 in-line six produces 335 hp and 365 lb.-ft. of torque. Complain all you want about it, but at least Toyota retained the in-line six configuration as a nod to the Mark IV.
A single test drive is all it takes to prove that the B58 is extremely well suited for the Supra. Paired up with the ZF’s lightning-fast eight-speed automatic, the only available transmission, it’s undeniably a match made in engineering heaven. According to Toyota, the combination is good for a 0-60 in just 3.8 seconds and a quarter-mile run in only 12.3 seconds at 113 mph. Power is strong, even from the moment you punch the gas pedal all the way to redline.
Pulling from the deep BMW parts bin again, we get the front strut and multilink suspension. This setup works magic with a car that claims to have the shortest wheelbase and widest track of any production vehicle out there.
This results in an extremely wound up, overstrung chassis that will throw itself into any tight corner with manic eagerness—erupting out with a roaring exhaust, hissing turbo, and neck-snapping acceleration. This extreme willingness to pivot is the direct result of the super-tight wheelbase, generating skid pad recordings of over 1.05 g’s while only wearing the factory rubber.
Luckily, steering and braking are on par with the rest of the remarkable driving experience. The wheel turns with precision. It’s just heavy enough, offering plenty of feedback—a perfectly precise tool that had no problem keeping up with the Supra’s crazed enthusiasm in the tight bends.
The brains behind the brawn are thankfully straightforward enough, with only two driving modes available: normal and sport. Sport will amp up the throttle, exhaust, dampers, steering, transmission, and the limited-slip differential to levels more suited for extra aggressive driving. Normal mode tames the beast enough to make the Supra more comfortable for day-to-day driving.
It’s true that the 2020 Toyota Supra GR has lost some of its purebred genealogy by mixing its formula with BMW. As skeptical as this partnership made me, I did my best to reserve judgment until I had the chance to experience the highly anticipated new Supra for myself. Boy am I glad I did.
Few cars on the road are as fierce, balanced, and perfectly engineered for the track as this. It’s an immersive driving experience at a price that beats out a long list of cars that would attempt (but not be able) to perform half as well. The new Supra isn’t perfect. Its new looks may not appeal to everyone. The interior is a tight fit. Tighter than the Toyota FR-S even. However, if you’re afraid that everything that made the Mark IV Supra so iconic has been engineered out with BMW’s close involvement, fear not. The result is a next-gen Supra that’s never been better.