It took me long enough to avoid driving the new Toyota Supra. I was a bit skeptical by this Toyota that’s actually a BMW but is a Toyota. The German origins of the fifth-generation Supra, codename A90, has been rinsed to death by every auto publication on the face of the Earth so I won’t go too deep into that. All you have to know is the engine, transmission, interior, tech, chassis, wheels, and the people who make it are all BMW. Even the key is straight from a BMW 2 Series.
As New Zealand only gets the more powerful 3.0-litre, turbocharged straight six version I thought it might be interesting to see what the less powerful but also less expensive entry into the Supra range was like. So, after driving the fabulous GR Yaris first, I wanted to see if the GR Supra had any of the magic from its smaller sibling. The guys at Omoshiro Rental Car, who offer a unique service of renting out iconic JDM cars to enthusiasts, were kind enough to give me the keys to their Supra SZ (the base trim level for the Supra in Japan) to find out.
Five Things I Like About The Toyota Supra SZ
You have to hand it to Toyota for choosing BMW to be their technical partner for their new sports car. If you wanted a fine handling rear-wheel drive sports car you go to BMW; simple as that. The Supra drives perfectly well, as you’d expect the chassis fine tuning is as balanced as you’d expect a BMW to be. For the most part it’s got quite neutral handling with solid grip and that all too familiar BMW lively back end when you get a bit too frisky with the throttle. If you’re not, it’s all very lovely.
Great grand touring ability
If you’ve been in a modern BMW, you’ll know how competent they are on a long motorway journey the Supra will feel familiar. I was impressed at the way it was able to soak up miles without breaking a sweat. The 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox was a nice advantage too, slickly going through the ratios on my behalf without any need of assistance. There are paddle shifters, of course, but for stress free cruising you can just leave it D, appreciate the BMW-levels of NVH, and the firm yet never uncomfortable ride quality. The Supra dealt with bumps as well as you’d expect the Z4 or 3 Series.
Surprising amount of standard kit
This is where its Toyota-ness comes in. Though it’s built by BMW at the same factory it builds the Z4 roadster and all the tech inside is BMW, the Supra is equipped very much like a Toyota. The base model as seen here in ‘SZ’ trim starts from a somewhat reasonable ¥4,995,000 or approximately $60,000. For that you get a reversing camera, adaptive cruise control, LED headlights with adaptive high beam, blind spot assist, and sat-nav. All on the supposed base model. You wouldn’t get that from ze Germans.
All that BMW tech
Part of what makes the Supra so usable and modern is all the BMW tech. It’s hard to escape it. The whole interior is pretty much lifted from a BMW from the iDrive controller to the display screen, even the steering wheel and gear shifter is straight from a BMW. While some may argue that yes, it loses all Toyota character because of this, I argue that makes the Supra one of the most technologically modern cars you can find inside a Toyota showroom. I still maintain the BMW iDrive system is the best infotainment in the car industry right now, and all the digital displays and standard equipment as well as the optional tech available puts years years ahead of the tech you’d find in a RAV4 or Camry.
The best value BMW made car
This all adds up to the Supra being the best value car BMW (technically) makes. For that, I think it’s worth getting over the Z4. Plus, personally I think the Supra looks better. Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves.
Five Things I Dislike About The Toyota Supra SZ
More competent than it is fun
The base car is perfectly fine. Its BMW 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine produces an adequate 145kW and 320NM of torque, enough to get the base Supra from 0-100 km/h in just 6.5 seconds. The chassis is more than capable of handling the base car’s power and while you’d expect the lower powered car to be more exploitable and therefore more fun, it isn’t. The whole time I was driving it I was more impressed by how capable it was as a package than as a driver’s car. It just felt very German. It didn’t encourage me to take it out to more exciting roads and give it a good thrashing like the Yaris did. A shame really.
Visibility isn’t great
The Z4, with the roof down, has all the visibility in the world. The sky is quite literally the limit. The Supra with its fixed sloping roof on the other hand has quite restricted rearwards view. Thank god for the blind spot assist. There is a caveat, however, as the a-pillars are also quite thick which doesn’t help manoeuvring in tight city streets or on twisty mountain roads.
Standard wheels make it look awkward
I mean, come on BMW/Toyota. You could’ve chosen better looking wheels for the standard car. I understand they want people to spend more and opt for the more expensive and more powerful variants or perhaps more expensive wheel options but out of the box the Supra SZ looks pathetic with the standard 17 inch wheels. Especially with the faux splitter at the front.
Lack of grab handles
A sports car should always have grab handles. End of.
Questionable long term reliability
Toyotas have always been the synonymous with apocalypse surviving reliability so with this car being made by BMW with BMW components I wonder the long term reliability of this generation Supra. Will it last as long as its predecessors and will it appreciate in value like them? Unlikely and unlikely but hey, only time will tell.
I do believe Omoshiro Rental Car is the best way to experience the new Supra. This is a car that’s great to drive as a rental. I wouldn’t buy one myself though, not if we’re still living in a world where just across the showroom floor is the brilliant GR Yaris. But I do like that we are now in a timeline where Toyota have two proper sports cars and a third on the way in the form of the new 86. The more affordable Japanese sports cars we have the better.