Toyota GR Supra review: JDM icon or Bavarian in disguise?
This took a while, didn't it?
You mean a local take by us? Yep, this is somewhat overdue. Never mind it took over a year since launch to get our hands on one, and the fact that there's an updated and peppier version on sale already too. We're just glad to have finally gotten into its hot seat during these pandemic times.
Having a go at it during the recent Christmas holidays was a treat, and that's despite this tester's odometer reading at over 22,000km – yep, it's been properly.. err, 'used'? Thankfully, Toyotas are known to hold up well against abuse over time, this BMW-based one being no exception.
At least we now know that the GR Supra is very Toyota-like in that particular way. The other bits might not bode well with some, depending on which side of the JDM fence one may or may not be in, of course.
Is this a BMW in ‘Japanese’ drag then?
In hindsight, jumping into the GR Supra right after our recent stint with the BMW M340i xDrive didn’t help to resolve the identity crisis that arose in the former. The confusion is amplified further by the many bits on board that felt like they’re grafted straight from BMW – they are.
Certainly, the recipe in this new generation GR Supra (chassis code: A90) appears largely similar to its legendary predecessor the JZA80 Supra – a 90s and early 2000s icon of a car. It still rocks a sleek two-seat coupe design and motivated by a straight-six mill powering its rear wheels.
However, don’t expect the whooshes and hisses – not to mention the lag – of the JZA80’s signature and distinctive 2JZ turbo six-shooter. What you’ll hear instead is a familiar Bavarian straight-six howl, excessive turbo whooshes and hisses traded off for near-zero lag in delivery.
With all that in mind, the GR Supra’s acceptance amongst staunch JDM purists over time remains questionable. Though we reckon there’s one Germanic quality it boasts that anyone can wholeheartedly accept, and that is the way it drives.
Tell us how it drives then…
The short answer is that It drives likes a BMW. Cliched remark that may be, but we'll argue that this isn’t bad news entirely.
One just needs to live with a few quirks, like the less than ideal visibility – both forwards and back. Reckon this is expected of a low-slung and low–roofed coupe with a very long front overhang and extremely short derriere. It also makes for a rather cramped cabin.
Otherwise, the GR Supra is a marvel to drive, especially on a corner-carving jaunt through the canyons on weekends, or even a track day. Notably, Toyota opted to simplify the selectable drive modes in the GR Supra, giving just the choices between ‘Normal’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Safety System Off’.
In Sport, the sharpened throttle, loudened exhaust (complete with customary cracks and pops) and the stiffened dampers deliver all the engagement a driving enthusiast wants and needs. What’s also surprising is how civil the GR Supra can be for daily commutes when set to Normal.
Yup. In fact, the GR Supra felt surprisingly decent when tasked with a grocery run, which was where its respectably large boot came into prime. Also, should you not be in the mood for fast driving, things like adaptive dampers, blind-spot monitor and forward-collision warning helps too.
No, we’re not kidding. The GR Supra can be quiet and soft enough for the daily, even for runs to your neighbourhood's weekly morning wet market. Just don’t mind the amazed and envious looks it will attract thanks to its striking styling.
Ah, yes. It looks interesting, doesn’t it?
We’ll be frank, the GR Supra is neither pretty nor ugly. Instead, eye-catching would be an aptly accurate description. This being a subjective matter to gauge, we’ll let you make your own thoughts about the GR Supra’s style.
Is it fast?
Yes, and the news gets better. The car we tested was the 2019-spec model, which makes do with ‘only’ 335hp and 500Nm. This is enough to see 0-100kph dispatched in a rapid 4.3 seconds before topping out at an electronically governed 250kph vmax.
However, the GR Supra you can order today through UMW Toyota Motor (UMWT) benefits from a tweaked compression ratio, redesigned pistons plus a new dual-branch exhaust system. These beef things up to 382hp, granting a quicker 0-100kph time of 4.1 secs too.
Would you expect anything less from a lightweight (1,570kg) sports coupe packing a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six mill? Thought so. Whether this is enough to justify the GR Supra's steep price is another matter altogether.
Gulp... How much is it then?
Order yours within the just extended SST exemption period and the figure reads at RM589,987 sans insurance costs. Yep, pricey.
To put into perspective, this amount lets you acquire TWO GR Yaris hot hatches, with change to spare for fuel, extra tyres, and fees for a few trackdays. Want a proper BMW instead? Ironically, the M2 Competition (sans extended warranty and service) costs a few grand less at RM587,256.69. BONUS: This comes with a three-pedal-and-stick-shift option too.
BMW aside, said price also warrants at least a look at a few other choices like the benchmark-setting Porsche 718 Cayman S mid-ship, or the powerfully plush Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG Coupe at least. Want a 'proper' JDM? Relatively 'new' Nissan GT-Rs are abundant in the local grey import market.
Will your mind be swayed if we told you that the GR Supra's price does include a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty?
Seriously, should I bother getting one?
Look past its quirks and, plainly, the GR Supra isn't too shabby a sports car. Call it a BMW in Toyota drag if you will, we reckon Toyota's decision to team up with the Bavarian performance driving masters to build a follow up to the JZA80 is a sound move.
If you got the means and feel chuffed at the idea of owning a Toyota-badged BMW performance novelty, then why not? Just don't expect to “triple your portfolio” so quickly as we reckon it's going to take far longer for the GR Supra to mature into a collector's car as the JZA80 is now.
Looking for a true-blue thoroughbred sports coupe? The alternatives we mentioned earlier may just be too tempting to pass on. Evidently, this is the GR Supra's real hurdle towards prospects, and the decision lies with you.
2019 Toyota GR Supra (as tested)
3.0 litre straight-6 turbo,
(*2019 launch price with SST)
2020 Toyota GR Supra
3.0-litre straight-6 turbo,
(* until 30 June 2021)
(** from 1 July 2021)