The new A90 MK5 2020 Toyota GR Supra is quickly going down in history as one of the most controversial new car endeavors. Point blank: Deal with it.
Mont Tremblant, QC. – In 21 years of reviewing new cars and reporting on the industry, I can’t recall another new car ever being trolled as hard from all angles, all ends and from everyone as has the new A90 2020 Toyota GR Supra. In many ways, all we car enthusiasts, critics and trolls alike need to thank Toyota for giving us fodder and material to write on and bitch about, and most importantly, for knowing full-well this was going to happen and launching the new Supra regardless.
I make it a point to practically never read reviews or reports on cars I’ve not driven so as to avoid seeing my impressions and thoughts influenced by someone else. In regard to the 2020 Toyota GR Supra, I could not resist as I needed to know more. In a way, and exceptionally I think, the material I read was either negative or positive, effectively cancelling itself out. One comment by a well-known auto critic did however give shape to one thought in my mind: the new Supra is here, let’s be thankful and/or deal with it.
To not bring up the relationship with BMW and their new Z4 in this story would be to ignore the blue whale in the room. I happened to drive the 2020 BMW Z4 M40i the week prior to driving the Supra so I am able to draw a parallel between the two. Do not expect an immediate comparison though. This stage belongs to the Supra.
Busy and unique
Let’s work our way from the outside in. The new 2020 Toyota GR Supra is not elegant, not especially pretty but it is immediately recognizable and unique. The most novel physical aspect is the near-boat-tail rear end with its integrated upswept spoiler. The rear haunches actually required specific upgrades to Toyota’s stamping abilities in order to make them happen. There are also numerous “fake” real vents strewn about the shell. Toyota says they’re there for future applications and for tuners. There’s little else to complain about this then.
The Supra’s styling is heavy and layered, more so than it has ever been. Is this then, the proper evolution of the Supra? This is one of the true debates surrounding the car. As it sits, its wheelbase is 101mm shorter than Toyota 86’s. Overall length is very similar but the Supra is 50mm wider up front and 70mm wider in the rear. Despite the long bonnet, front-engine and rear-drive layout, the 2020 Supra is no longer a GT, or grand touring car, as it has always been. Should they not have kept the A80 MK4’s “Supra” font for the new one? Or used the same name?
A room for two
As for the cabin, as it shares much with the donor car and brand, it is now a 2-seater and not a 2+2. Everyone’s already pointed out the obvious ties to BMW and the important takeaway is that everything works perfectly fine. Although plasticky, the instrument panel’s central analogue rev-counter is a nice touch. Ahead of the IP is the Supra’s worst-offending element: The steering wheel. It is ghastly. The round airbag cap is comically large and the plastic cover below it is equally terrible.
It only comes one way: Fully loaded
All Canadian-market 2020 Toyota GR Supra are identical, save for exterior and interior color. The available red leather hide is a lovely highlight and it is limited to only a few exterior hues. At $64,990, the Supra comes fully-loaded with an 8.8-inch display, navigation, Apple CarPlay, head’s up display, a 12-speaker JBL audio system, Toyota Connect services and much more.
As a place to be, the MK5 Supra’s interior puts you in command of a very capable car. Here and now, I’ll address a few points. As far as I can tell, there will be no manual transmission option on the GR Supra. A 4-cylinder version is almost as dubious as a manual gearbox and said transmission will likely not be offered either should the 4-pot (available in Japan) ever become a thing in North America.
The Supra secret
And so, how’s the 2020 Toyota GR Supra on the road? Well, it’s really, really good. That is, when on boost and getting under way with intent. The BMW B58 straight-6-cylinder twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0-litre closed-deck block engine puts out, on paper, 335-horsepower and 365 lb.-ft. of torque. This is the same mill found in M40i BMWs which are rated at 381-horsepower and 385 torques (more or less, there are numerous iterations).
This engine is well-known for putting out serious numbers on dynos. Take a moment and google dyno results and be prepared to understand why Toyota agreed to the lowly specs despite making the Supra seem underpowered. That’s because it isn’t. What it is truly is a dream for tuners.
At any given moment, a sudden mash of the go-pedal results in a few gears from the well-sorted 8-speed ZF automatic transmission dropping, some neck-snapping forward thrust and a good dose of exhaust popping and farting. This car is freakin’ quick, as much so if not slightly faster than the 2020 BMW Z4 M40i I drove a week ago.
On switchbacks, and over rough surfaces, the Supra was incredibly civilized, very much like the drop-top Z4. The most improved aspect over the Bimmer is steering. Somehow, the Toyota is more responsive, quicker to answer the call of steering input. In this regard, it seems more agile and eager to pounce on an apex.
We did track the car on the superb Circuit Mont-Tremblant and it displayed predictability and a considerable amount of grip. The extremely stiff steel platform (as stiff as the carbon-fibre-tubbed Lexus LFA) allows the standard adaptive dampers to manage the surface and not flexing. Here again, the car’s quick steering reflexes pointed the front end in the desired direction with little drama – drama that is kept in check with the right foot. The B58 packs a serious wallop of mid-range torque that could easily overwhelm the electronic rear active differential and the included Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires.
As I lapped the track, it felt as though as was scarcely pushing the car. Well under control and within its and my limits, I still managed to hit 205km/h at the end of the back straight with plenty of room still for improvement through a better exit from turn 8.
Who’s the GR Supra really for?
Of the comments I’ve read or heard about the new 2020 Toyota GR Supra is that it lacks a soul or doesn’t flare up emotions as some expected. I get this but I think this is as a result for who the car is aimed at. 21-year-old fanboys are upset to find this out but they’ll be buying a pre-owned MK5 A90 in six or eight years and modifying it to their liking.
The actual purchaser will probably be an old man like me, or in their 50s, that remembers the Supra, loves the power and the styling but refuses to be punished by a horribly unforgiving ride in order to access the performance.
This is the new Supra’s trick. It’s no longer a GT but it behaves like one. It can also tear up a track whenever you want to (alternatively, you can buy a Toyota GR Supra GT4) and drive home in relative comfort at the end of the event. It works very well.
As the rule of the autonomous cars looms overhead and the pleasure of driving seems to be on its way out in my lifetime, I am very thankful that Toyota took the bull by the horns, accepted that BS was going to be thrown their way (as it was when the FR-S/86 was launched) and brought the car to market.