2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 Review by David Colman +VIDEO
The unbeatable lightness of being the new GR Supra
By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Colin Chapman, the brilliant English founder of Lotus sports cars, once said that the best way to improve vehicle dynamics was to "add lightness." It's an edict that has gone unheeded today as manufacturers burden every new product with enough needless accessories, electric motors, and hybrid batteries to make a camel collapse. Enter the new-for-2021 GR version of the Toyota Supra. This turbocharged 4 cylinder model joins the 6 cylinder Supra which made its debut in 2020. The 3,181lb. GR weighs 267 pounds less than the 6 cylinder model. But the lighter 255hp Supra GR also makes 127hp less than the turbo 6 model. Lay out the power-to-weight ratios of the two, and you'll discover that the GR's number is 12.4lb/hp versus 8.86lb/hp for the turbo 6.
So the turbo 6 is the clear winner in any comparison, right? Not so fast. By "adding lightness" to the GR, Toyota has perfected the 2019 Supra platform by installing an exceptionally lively and light weight turbo 4 in the engine compartment. The loss of two cylinders and all the extra equipment required by the turbo 6 reduces weight over the GR's front wheels and improves the turbo 6's 52/48 front/rear weight distribution ratio to near 50/50. Thrashing the GR through a series of challenging switchbacks on the coast route seals the deal. This is one of the most nimble, controllable, aggressive sports cars I have driven since I spent cockpit time in Colin Chapman's first generation Lotus Elan. The fact that it is available today for a modest investment of $42,990 will gladden the hearts of sports car enthusiasts everywhere.
Our test GR was equipped with just 2 significant options. The first was the stunning shade of Nitro Yellow paint which cost $425. The second was a $3,485 Technology Package which adds navigation and bumps up stereo performance with a 12 speaker, 500W JBL system controlled by a touchpad rotary dial. But to get the navigation system and the uprated sound, you must also accept a couple of features I found objectionable. One, called "Speed Limit Information," posts a transitory speed limit sign prominently in the information display. This number starts to blink if you exceed the posted limit. Moreover, the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, which is also part of the package, will under certain circumstances disallow your selected cruise speed if it is over the posted limit. On such a sports car as the GR, these big brother features are unnecessary and unwanted. So you might think twice about opting for the Technology Package.
Another irritation that diluted driving enjoyment was the "Lane Departure Warning with Steering Assist" which is unfortunately standard issue on the GR. This bit of nanny oversight will fight you for control of the steering wheel whenever you change lanes without first signaling your intentions. Unlike the gentle nudge provided by such steering intervention in other radar cruise systems, the GR's feedback is almost strong enough to jerk your hand off the wheel. I later discovered that the amount of force is adjustable. I also later discovered that the steering intervention can be switched off. But neither of these "features" are easily eliminated while on the go, as they are in most vehicles today. In fact, deselecting steering intervention requires a 4 level computer routine when a simple on/off dashboard button should have been provided in the first place.
In the grand scheme of things, you will probably set the GR up according to your desired specifications and never again be troubled by these intrusive aids. In that case you will quickly learn to cherish this new offering as the best sports car Toyota has made since the last Supra disappeared from the US market in 2003. The GR has been a long time coming. Toyota introduced it as a prototype in 2014, when it was called the FT-1 Concept. Even in 255hp 4 cylinder turbo form, the GR lives up to the performance promise of that wild looking original FT-1. With standard launch control engaged, the GR will clear the standing start quarter mile in 13.1 seconds at 105mph, turning 0-60mph in just 4.2 seconds. A Sport Mode button on the dash quickens the GR's reflexes, tightening suspension and throttle response. Another bonus of selecting Sport Mode is its amplification of the exhaust note's strident blat as you run the 8-speed automatic gearbox to the engine's redline of 7000rpm in each gear.
While the turbo 6 version of the Supra rides on 19 inch alloys and radials, the GR utilizes 18 inch, 10-spoke alloy rims shod with model specific, soft compound (TW 300) Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber (255/40ZR18 f, 275/40ZR18 r). These tires, although an inch shorter in diameter, are the same width as those specified for the turbo 6 Supra. They are also ZR speed rated for the GR's top speed of 155mph. With the level of stick provided by these premium Michelins, and the amount of scat generated by the turbo 4 motor, the new GR tops the list of affordable rides for high performance addicts.
2021 TOYOTA GR SUPRA 2.0
ENGINE: 2.0 liter inline 4, twin scroll turbocharged, DOHC, 16 valve
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 25MPG City/32MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $48,040
HYPES: Incredible Directional Agility
GRIPES: Needs Rear Wiper, Fewer Nannies
STAR RATING: 10 Stars out of 10