2023 Toyota GR Supra – Review by David Colman +VIDEO
It’s so super, it’s Supernatural!
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Sixty two years ago, Jaguar's XK-E broke the mold for sports cars. The E-Type, as it became known, was stunningly beautiful, amazingly fast (top speed 150mph!), and inexplicably affordable at $5,000. After all, back then, a new Ferrari cost $12,000 - and couldn't even outrun an E-Type. I was lucky enough to own successive brand-new Series 1 E-Type roadsters in the Sixties - a 1963 3.8 liter, followed by a 1965 4.2 liter. When I climbed into Toyota's 2023 GR Supra (equipped with a manual 6-speed gearbox for the first time this year) I was overwhelmed by the GR's similarity to my old Jags. Same duck -your-head-upon-entry routine. Same elongated front bonnet covering an inline 6-cylinder engine. Same Manx-tailed rear end. Same tight cockpit and short windshield. And best of all, the same explosive performance. Even with a governor to limit top speed, the new GR Supra will best any XK-E, with a quarter mile time of 12.4 seconds at 114mph, and a flat-in-top-gear speed of 161mph.
While the GR's stunning looks and performance may be reminiscent of the XK-E, it puts its English fore-bearer to shame in one significant way: reliability. While it was a never-ending struggle to keep those Jags tuned and running, the new Supra is a park-it-and-forget-it proposition. For starters, you can purchase our test model for a comparative pittance - $57,270 Suggested Retail. Then for the next three years, kick back and luxuriate in Toyota's bullet-proof reputation for quality. The GR's limited warranty covers virtually everything for the first 3 years or 36,000 miles, with an additional powertrain warranty good for 60,000 miles. And if that's not enough, Toyota even provides complimentary scheduled maintenance for two years or 25,000 miles. Vintage Jaguar owners will read this and weep.
The latest incarnation of the Supra came to life as a joint project shared by Toyota and BMW. Significant differences between the offspring are as follows: the Supra is sold only as a closed two-seat coupe, while BMW's Z4 is offered only as a 2 seat roadster. Both companies offer similar engine options: either a 255hp 2.0 liter 4 cylinder turbo or a 3.0 liter inline 6 twin-scroll turbo making 382hp. However, the Z4 limits gearbox choice to an 8-speed automatic while Toyota has augmented the automatic with a six-speed manual for 2023. Last year we tested the automatic-only first-year Supra and were impressed with its stellar performance, but missed the fun of operating a proper manual transmission. The latest Supra rectifies that shortcoming with a delicious 6-speed stick that will plant you in sports car heaven. Clutch take-up is precise and crisp, shift gates are short and well-defined, and Toyota offers automatic rev-matching on downshifts to ease sudden loads on the gearbox.
For puttering around town, there's a "Normal" drive mode that provides little steering wheel feedback, quiet muffling, and a cushy ride quality. However, when you select the "Sport" mode from the prominent button just to the left of the shift lever, the Supra gets mean in a hurry. Steering feedback congeals from pudding to pine pitch, exhaust note amplifies to race crescendo, and suspension tightens formerly flaccid musculature. In Sport Mode, the Supra GR is quite the nervy beast, adept at straightening curves with the merest flick of the steering wheel. The fitment of serious autocross-worthy rubber contributes mightily to the Supra's athleticism. Toyota fits only Michelin Pilot Super Sport radials to the Supra. Sized 255/35R19 front and 275/35R19 rear, these sticky rollers rate AA on Traction and carry a bad boy TW 300 number in case you want to tackle an autocross or track day.
Given the guided missile design of the Supra fuselage, there are some idiosyncrasies you need to appreciate when piloting this Toyota. The first order of business is to drive forward as much as possible. Because if you need to look back, you're in trouble. So pick your parking spots carefully. Do not chose dicey spaces which require rear vision, because there's almost none from the driver's seat. And yes, it was equipped with the optional $1,195 "Driver Assist Package" which contributes Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Parking Sensors with Alert. These items are essential to safe operation of the Supra and I wouldn't buy one without them. Still, plan on driving forward and like Bob Dylan said, "Don't Look Back."
After a wonderful week in the GR Supra, my wife and I agreed that this would most likely become our next automotive purchase. We had been talking about a Porsche GT4 RS, but you can buy a brand new GR Supra for just the price of the optional "Weissach Package" on the Porsche. So if you wondered what it must have been like to own Jaguar's XKE in the Swingin' Sixties, buy this Supernatural Toyota to find out.
2023 TOYOTA GR SUPRA 3.0PREMIUM MT
• ENGINE: 3.0 liter inline 6, turbocharged and intercooled, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
• HORSEPOWER: 382HP@6500rpm
• TORQUE: 368lb.-ft.@1800rpm
• FUEL CONSUMPTION: 19MPG City/27MPG Highway
• PRICE AS TESTED: $58,365
HYPES: Sensational Looks, Performance and Price
GRIPES: Ridiculous Automatic Ignition Idle Kill
STAR RATING: 10 Stars out of 10
©2023 David E Colman