Leave the Supra alone to do its thing without trying to be a race car driver, and it is fairly compliant.
We’re finally at the point where the armchair critics across the Internet have moved on from the fact that Toyota’s flagship sports car has been cross-developed with BMW. The latest Supra has now been around for over two years, and the reality is, it’s a darn good performance car. In fact, the first year it was released, it was DoubleClutch.ca Magazine’s Car of the Year. We jumped behind the wheel of the 2021 Toyota GR Supra A91 Edition to find out if this unique model is worth the premium over an already-excellent performance car.
The latest GR Supra has been the recipient of plenty of criticism. While most of it is because of the brand partnership, a bunch is for the styling. Subjectively, I quite like the design – it’s edgy and modern, and differentiated enough from the smaller GR 86 in Toyota’s lineup. The proportions are just perfect for a two-seat coupé, and while the low roof will have taller folks bonking their heads on entry, the double-bubble design is handsome and edgy.
Adding onto the 3.0-liter GR Supra, the A91 Edition adds a black rear lip spoiler, carbon fiber mirror caps, 19-inch forged wheels in matte black, Alcantara seats, and a differentiated trunk mat. There is also a stripe graphic on the side of the car. This is entirely a visual package with no functional bits, so while it’s unique, buyers aren’t exactly missing out on any performance bits. It’s also worth mentioning that at the time of this writing, all A91 Editions slotted for the Canadian market have been sold out.
Powering the upper-trim Supra is a 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder, just like the fourth-generation icon last seen in the 1990s. This is a BMW-sourced inline six, codenamed “B58”, and is by far one of the best powertrains on the market today. Output for the 2021 model jumped from 335 to 382 horsepower, and 368 lb-ft. of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels using a ZF eight-speed automatic, which is also one of today’s best transmissions. There’s no manual, but the ZF 8HP changes gears with the utmost urgency, and the paddles are responsive. A 2.0-liter version is available at a lower price point, as well.
The GR Supra’s platform is largely shared with the BMW Z4, but the suspension is all Toyota, and the fixed-roof Toyota’s chassis feels much stiffer and more rigid than the Z4 roadster. The Supra corners with immediacy and the steering feels very responsive; it slingshots out of corners brilliantly and is always ready to pounce. The adaptive dampers do get extremely firm with “Sport” mode engaged, along with significant exhaust drone as well. This results in a tiresome highway commute if you’re not in the same eager mood as the car is.
Induced oversteer is extremely possible; just shut off the assists, throw the Supra into a corner, and it will happily kick the tail end out and remind you of its capabilities. Like the smaller 86, it’s a very controllable vehicle at the limit. Leave the Supra alone to do its thing without trying to be a race car driver, and it is fairly compliant. Taller drivers will find issues with visibility, as the windshield and side windows are gun-slit small. Braking performance is also good, with decent pedal bite and adequate feel to the driver’s foot.
As previously alluded to, the interior of the Supra is a mixed bag. On one hand, the infotainment is a version of BMW’s iDrive, which is a great thing. Apple CarPlay can be used wirelessly, and the interface is a good one. On the other side of things, the JBL stereo sounds pretty awful, there isn’t very much room to put anything, and for those that are well over the six-foot mark, headroom may be compromised. Another small niggle is that there is no exterior button to open the trunk, requiring drivers to pull the key fob out of their pocket. This can be a snag when handling groceries, children or other bulky items.
Toyota Canada prices the GR Supra from $56,390 for the 2.0-liter model. The bigger 3.0-liter engine starts at $67,690, and opting for the A91 Edition tested here will set buyers back an extra $1,200. Other than this package, there are no options available, and the car only really comes one way – just choose your engine. At $68,890 before taxes and fees, the Supra is pretty good value, especially when you consider what else you can opt for.
Step out of the Toyota dealership, and you’d have to spend a lot more to get comparable performance. The BMW Z4 can easily get into the $90,000 mark, and the Porsche 718 Boxster is substantially more expensive as well when comparably equipped. The dark horse rival is the GR Supra’s cousin, the BMW M340i. While only offered with all-wheel-drive and four doors, the M340i is far more practical and comfortable while delivering very similar performance from the exact same engine. The only compromise is that it doesn’t look nearly as cool, and isn’t a dedicated sports car.
As a performance car, the 2021 Toyota GR Supra A91 Edition is surprisingly good value. It has its shortcomings, but it remains a spectacularly machine to drive. This Toyota responds well to inputs, maintains its focus as a driver’s car, and sounds fantastic while doing it. It out-does just about everything else in its price bracket, and if you don’t need the rear seats or, well, any semblance of practicality, the GR Supra 3.0 in standard forum remains one of our modern favourites.