2021 Toyota GR Supra Review

2021 Toyota GR Supra - More power and two letters make Toyota's Supra a more complete sports car.


Toyota's iconic nameplate returned for 2020 after a multi-year hiatus in the United States. Supra is a sports car that seats 2 passengers and is only available as a 2-door coupe. The addition of the GR prefix comes as an homage to Toyota's legendary GAZOO Racing team. Supra shares some components with the similar BMW Z4. For 2021, Supra gets more power and revised steering and suspension tuning. Competitors include the Chevrolet Corvette, Nissan 350Z, Porsche Boxster 718 and Cayman 718.

Trim levels include 2.0, 3.0, 3.0 Premium, and A91. The new 2.0 trim gets a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 255 horsepower. Other models get a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 that produces 382 horsepower (47 more than last year). Both drive power to the rear wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Available driver-assist technology includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, rearview camera with cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, frontal collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, automatic high-beam headlights. Pricing ranges from $47,000 to $57,000.

Supra's 6-cylinder engine might be the most appealing from a performance standpoint, most buyers will likely prefer the more "pedestrian" turbo four, which provides a good balance of acceleration, economy and affordability. It is rated at a robust 255 horsepower (remember the Supra tips the scales at a svelte 3200 pounds) and, more importantly, 295 pound-feet of torque. From a stop, it will push the Supra from 0 to 60 MPH in about 5.2 seconds, that's certainly fast enough for most buyers. But, back to the torque, the engine provides good thrust away from a stop and solid passing punch. It's smooth and works very well with the smooth-shifting automatic transmission. Sadly, no manual is offered in the US. Still, the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters provide quick shifts when the driver is so inclined.

The lusty V6 provides a marked improvement in every way. Most noticeable is its mid-range passing punch, which with the 4-cylinder is mostly a nudge and with the V6 is a not-so-gentle shove. Of course, the more powerful engine produces a nice bump in off-the-line performance with a o to 60 MPH time of just 3.5 seconds.

Both engines mate well to the crisp-shifting automatic transmission. It responds quickly to manual input and there are various track modes that allow it to act more like a manual transmission during deceleration. As you would expect, rear-wheel grip can be problem on slippery surfaces. Thankfully, the traction and stability control are standard and work well to limit wheelspin. However, it should be noted that the Supra really isn't designed to be driven on snow- or ice-covered pavement.

Driving modes include ECO, Comfort and Sport. Comfort provides good throttle response and enough pep for most situations. ECO dulls off-the-line acceleration. Conversely, when in Sport, there's a noticeable difference in how the engine responds and sounds. It's almost as if you've unleashed another 50 horsepower as the engine's computer management system keeps the revs up even when coasting.

The Supra 2.0 is EPA rated at 25 MPG city and 32 MPG highway. 3.0 models net 22/30 MPG ratings. Both  numbers are fare well against competitors. In fact, it's easy to match or exceed those numbers in routine suburban commuting. Conversely, diving heavy into the throttle greatly diminishes the Supra's thrift. Like most in the class, Toyota recommends premium gasoline.

The Supra has always been one of the best handling sports cars you can buy and this newest iteration builds on that legacy. There's a definite balance to the chassis that's immediately felt once you are behind the wheel. The perfectly weighted steering acts as an extension of your brain as the Supra effortlessly rounds corners and bends. The brakes provide ample stopping power and the pedal provides ample feedback as you approach maximum braking force. The suspension magically keeps the wheels in constant contact with the road on even the bumpiest of surfaces. All told, the Supra exudes a confidence that's matched only by its chassis-mate Z4 and perhaps the Porsche 918.

That said, there's a penalty to for all of that track-ready goodness and that comes in the form of a firm ride. Though it's not harsh in the comfort setting, it is certainly busy -- active might be a better term. Toggle over to sport and the ride gets downright troublesome if the tarmac is anything but pool-table smooth. If you were expecting a boulevard cruiser, you'll be disappointed. If you want a great handling sports car with an engaging driving experience, you'll be very pleased.

The chassis is rock solid and there's no hint of cowl shake or suspension shimmy when traversing railroad tracks. Noise levels are impressively low as well -- unless you push the engine hard, then it sounds terrific.

The Supra's interior features an all-digital instrument cluster and a 10.2-inch infotainment screen in the center of the dash. Materials are class and price appropriate and the overall design is typical modern if a bit sterile.

Supra gets a verion of BMW's iDrive infotainment system. It's certainly not the easiest to master and can make simple tasks like tuning the radio or setting a destination difficult. Voice and gesture controls have been added, but don't work consistently enough to provide a substitute for a better design. In addition, Apple Car Play and Android Auto are both finally supported. Thankfully, the rest of the switchgear is thoughtfully placed and important tasks quickly become second nature.

As is the case with most sports cars, the seating position is low. The seats themselves are firmly bolstered and have lots of lateral support. Surprisingly, both head and leg room are quite good, easily accommodating all but the largest of frames. The windshield headliner is fairly high, so you don't have to peer around it to see stoplights, etc. Visibility to the rear is blocked by the large headrest/roll hoops and high decklid. Door openings are small, making it difficult to get in and out.

Cargo capacity is a paltry 10.2 cubic feet. In addition, there are no folding rear seats since Supra is just a 2-seater. Interior storage is minimal with just a few open and covered cubbies throughout. The map pockets, center-console bin and glove box are disappointingly small.

Bottom Line -- Critics complain that the Supra is just a BMW in Toyota guise. That's true to some extent -- and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. The Z4 is an amazing sports car and the Supra is just as amazing with admittedly more salacious styling. Nits include the wonky infotainment system and terrible ingress. Otherwise, the Supra is an outstanding sports car that's fun to drive and extremely capable. Of course, we haven't yet mentioned the fact that no manual transmission is available ...

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.