Toyota’s Supra is of course a re-bodied BMW Z4 and built in Austria.
It’s been a couple of years since we last drove the two-seater but age has not wearied the GR foundation member.
Launched here in 2019, Supra received a shot in the arm back in December, 2020 with a 35kW boost in power and additional bracing under the bonnet to improve handling.
Then, in November, 2021 wireless Apple CarPlay was added.
In April last year Supra went to a full model update with the availability for the first time of a manual version, along with re-tuned steering and suspension.
New colours and wheels also made an appearance.
What’s it cost?
There’s two models, GT and GTS, priced from $87,000 and $97,000 respectively, plus on-roads.
Premium paint adds $575. GTS offers two exclusive options: alcantara leather and matte grey paint — each $2500.
Both models feature an integrated rear spoiler that recalls the shape of the first Z4 launched 20 years ago now.
Standard kit includes dual zone climate air, keyless entry and start, heated, eight-way power adjust leather-accented sports seats, 18-inch wheels with red brake calipers, adaptive LED headlights, LED tail lights, auto high beam, auto lights and wipers and an auto dimming rear view mirror.
Providing infotainment is an 8.8-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth, voice recognition, AM/FM/DAB+ radio, satellite navigation plus a wireless phone charger and 205 watt 10-speaker audio.
Missing is Android Auto, wireless or otherwise.
For those that want the lot, the GTS adds larger 19-inch wheels, head-up windscreen display and premium 425 watt, 12-speaker JBL audio — the standard system is not too shabby though.
The new 19-inch forged alloys are stronger and bring a weight saving of 1.2kg per wheel.
Supra still doesn’t have a safety rating, but a comprehensive suite of driver assistance includes active cruise control (ACC), front collision warning with brake function and daytime pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, lane departure alert, speed limit info and active speed limiter.
Additional safety features include seven airbags, blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, rear view camera, front and rear parking sensors with rear end collision warning plus tyre pressure monitoring.
Supra is covered by a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty and capped-price servicing which works out at $380 every 12 months for five years.
Service the car with Toyota and you get an extra two years on the drivetrain.
What’s it go like?
BMW’s 3.0-litre straight six is a gem, with twin scroll turbocharger and variable valve control, and now pumps out a healthy 285kW of power and 500Nm of torque.
It’s paired with either a six-speed, rev-matching manual or sports-tuned eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifts, Normal and Sport modes plus launch control.
Maximum torque is available across a wide band, from 1800 through to 5000 revs, and the dash from 0-100km/h time has been trimmed to 4.1 seconds in the auto. The manual is good for 4.4 seconds.
With a 52-litre tank, fuel consumption is a claimed 8.9L/100km and it takes premium 95 unleaded.
Underpinning this performance is Brembo brakes (four-piston at the front), adaptive suspension and an active, limited slip rear diff.
A new driving mode called Hairpin+ allows one of the rear wheels to spin (presumably the inside wheel), helping the car to get around tight hairpin turns.
The GT rides on 18-inch wheels, while the GTS adds larger 19-inch wheels, with 255/35 front and 275/35 profile rubber rear, shod with Michelin Pilot Super Sports.
Our test vehicle was the pricier GTS grade finished in Copper Grey with optional tan interior.
You can just catch the copper tones in strong sunlight.
But let’s get something up front before proceeding. Supra sits extremely low, with a wide stance, low centre of gravity and perfect 50:50 weight distribution.
That’s a terrific setup for handling, but it makes the car extremely challenging to get in and out of — even for limber millennials.
In fact, there’s a bit of a knack to it and it could well be a deal breaker, so be sure to give it a try.
Once you’re in, the cabin and seats are reasonably comfortable, with plenty of head and legroom.
But vision is limited, especially looking over your shoulder.
The ride is overly harsh and it can sound like rain on a tin roof, on all but the smoothest surfaces.
The din is exacerbated by the open area behind the seats which acts as a kind of sound resonator.
There’s not much in the way of stowage in the cabin, with provision for keys, your phone and a couple of drink holders, but that’s about all.
The small, slim door pockets are virtually useless — even your wallet could end up in the boot.
On a more positive note, Supra feels quick, aggressive and engaging to drive.
It’s so much more exciting than the high performance EV that we drove previously.
You can choose between Sport and Normal drive modes.
Sport amplifies the engine note, as well as delays gear changes, firms up the dampers and weights up the steering.
It also blips the throttle on down changes and adds some nice snack, crackle and pop to the exhaust on throttle overrun.
But with sport mode comes a harsh ride, moving from bearable to crash, bang, horrible — and it’s best reserved for smooth roads or the track.
Fortunately, these settings can be dialled in or out individually in the setup menu — so you can have the engine sound with the softer ride option.
We note a half second or so of hesitation from the throttle in Normal mode, when seems to come from changing down more than a single gear at a time. This largely disappears in sport.
Interestingly, we didn’t find ourselves reaching for the gear change paddles right away in the Supra, as the car is extremely agile and responsive left to its own designs, making the right choices at the right time.
On wet, winding mountain roads, however, pulling gears with the shifters adds to the experience and the engine braking is reassuring, helping to maintain control braking hard into corners.
Steering is pin sharp, responding to the slightest touch, while the brakes bite deep and hard into corners, with the occasional bit of twitch and squirm from the rear end.
Point it at a hairpin and it goes around like a slingshot.
As before passengers miss out on any sort of handle to hang on to — even the door handle doesn’t lend itself to the job.
We were getting 9.7L/100km after close to 300km. Not bad considering a good part of that was thrashing it while dodging potholes and roadworks.
Get a flat and a space and weight-saving tyre repair kit is provided.
What we like?
Exciting car to drive
Pin sharp steering, braking and handling
Digital speed and speed limit notification
Entertaining snack, crackle and pop from the exhaust in sport mode
What we don’t like?
Difficult to get in and out
Left-hand blinkers (thanks BMW)
Ultra low, non driveway-friendly front spoiler
No warnings for speed cameras
Nothing for passengers to hang on to
Cheap low tech instrument panel
The bottom line?
A 2.0-litre Z4 will set you back the same as the Supra GTS. The 3.0-litre M40i is $40,000 more, before any extras. Both Z4s are convertibles with a soft top (the coupe is not offered here).
For some the badge is of paramount importance, for others such as myself it’s more about the performance — oh, what a feeling!