The GR Supra rocked the world, for better or worse. It was met with mixed reactions, plenty of purist criticism, but also critical acclaim for those who actually got behind the wheel. With 2021, Toyota improved the 3.0L and brought to light a new 4 cylinder 2.0L. Ever the advocate for the under-dog, I was very intrigued to try it and surprised to find that I loved it.
I was graced with the opportunity to live with both, and I was met with unexpected feelings. These ratings are specifically for the 2.0L, but I will discuss the 3.0L thoroughly alongside. I went into the comparison expecting the 2.0L to feel like it was just “less of a Supra”, but the more I drove them, the more I felt the 2.0L was the better car. But let me explain…
SwerveAutos Score: 82.5/100
The styling is loud, but beautifully so. I was actually not a big fan in the beginning, and I felt like the final release was a letdown as compared to the FT-1 on which it was based. But it has really grown on me, especially given my love for quirky and unique style. This 3.0L is equipped in Nitro Yellow ($425 option), and the 2.0L is Turbulence Gray. I love both colors for different reasons, but that yellow is bright, fun, and extremely eye-catching. The hood is incredibly large, big enough to seat a family of six around it. In fact it helps make up the front fenders above the wheels being the widest part of the car up front. The headlights and daytime running LEDs are also a beautifully bold statement.
Contrary to many modern car designs, the grill is not a gigantic statement piece, but rather a minimal-yet-functional design. It even funnels air into the front wheel wells, though you may perhaps expect the vents around the car to do that. However, those vents are all entirely fake. When inquired about it, Toyota simply said they expect after-market support to make alternative functional options. But legitimacy aside, the vents are a great design cue around the unique angles and surfaces of the car. Wheels are 19” forged aluminum on the 3.0L, or 18” cast for the 2.0L. Surprisingly, I think both sizes look “appropriate” for the car, almost as if 18.5” would have been perfect.
The rear is distinctly Toyota, with the taillights sloping off to the sides in a dramatic fashion. The narrow lift-back trunk opening culminates in a small integrated lip-spoiler. In fact, it’s one of the few sports cars where I don’t feel that adding a spoiler, duck-tail or otherwise, is necessary. Below, you’ll find an aggressive rear diffuser, with what looks to be an F1-style brake light, but is actually the reverse light. An impressive, aggressive 9 out of 10 for styling!
Part of the controversy to the purists is the BMW interior. That’s not an exaggeration, it’s literally a BMW interior, amended by a Toyota badge on the otherwise BMW steering wheel. But this is where I start my rebuttal: what’s wrong with that? BMW makes great interiors, and on average, I like them more than any comparable Toyota. It feels premium in nearly every aspect. There is an interesting bolster along the driver’s side of the center console. The shifter is not my favorite, but definitely better than many other options I’ve seen. I prefer it to the standard PRNDL shiftable stalk, and maybe a bit more than the shifting dials I’m seeing in many cars. But the glossy piano black all along the top is a downside.
The climate control sits above the center console, very simple and intuitive to use. Above that is the “modern classic” BMW rendition of radio/satellite station memory buttons. They’re capacitive, so resting your finger without pressing will preview what it is on the screen, then pressing it will take you to the station. It’s simple, but brilliant. Above that is the floating screen, a great design element that could have been better if brighter. The technology package brought along the premium JBL system, and you’ll know it immediately by whether or not you see the twin subwoofers behind the seats. They’re donned with unique grills carrying similar pattern to the wheels, technically impeding on a bit of trunk usability but well worth it if you ask me.
The steering wheel is nice enough, though I personally don’t like how the bottom “rung” is filled in with plastic. The buttons are nice to use, simple to understand, and it’s an interesting choice to have cruise-control follow-distance take up two separate buttons. The paddle shifters are visually appealing and feel great, definitely making it the ideal way to shift manually as opposed to the shifter stalk. To the left of the wheel is another favorite button of mine: the parking lights. It’s an obvious, simple button, allowing for your stunning LED DRLs to stay on when parked, a great feature for photos. Overall an impressive 8.5 out of 10 for interior.
Controversy continues, as here lies the BMW-based power plant, the beating heart of these Supras. The 3.0L uses the B58 engine sourced from BMW, and it squeaks out 382 hp and 368 lb-ft torque, both improvements over last year’s initial Supra release. It’s an impressive power plant, undeniably, and is paired with a ZF torque-converted 8-speed automatic transmission. And it’s incredible. It shifts faster than some dual-clutch experiences I’ve had, and with Sport Mode engaged it’s always ready to jump into the power band. A definite party trick to the 3.0L is the launch, getting you to 60mph in just under 4 seconds. It’s incredibly fun, arguably too powerful for the average daily spirited commute.
On that note, the 2.0L is obviously less powerful, but arguably more usable. I walked away from a few days with the 3.0L, stepped into the 2.0L, expecting comparative disappointment. Much to my surprise, I found even more engaging. I was able to use nearly the entire car, and I felt in total control. The electrically adaptive suspension and differential on the 3.0L is impressive, but somewhat less predictable. I found myself appreciating the mechanical limited-slip differential and tuning of the suspension on the 2.0L. Toyota suggests the 2.0L is an ideal GT car, and after trying it on highways and on track, I think it’s fantastically tuned for both.
The 2.0L, being inline-4 instead of inline-6, leaves an obvious “void” in the engine bay, but they simply kept it as far back as possible, making this technically a mid-engine car. That, along with the 50/50 weight distribution, gives it great balance and rotation in corners. Overall, it felt extremely engaging and usable at nearly any speed and driving style. The 3.0L has addicting power, but every time I felt like I was using it properly, I was met with legal limitations. The 2.0L however, left me with an unexpected positive impression of 9 out of 10.
I’m always torn on how to score this, because it really depends. Compared to a sedan or CUV? This is entirely impractical. But for cars in its class, a proper comparison, it’s remarkably decent. The trunk space comes in at over 10 cubic feet, nearly double that of a Miata, and bigger than the GR86 or Subaru BRZ. Granted, those have back seats. The trunk opening is shockingly small, especially compared to the hood that seems over twice the size, but that’s just one of the quirks to the unique body design. A friend made a special request, asking me to fit golf clubs in the trunk. And believe it or not, they did fit, albeit you may want to do some modification to ensure clubs don’t fly through the windshield on quick braking.
Another component to practicality is fuel consumption. Granted, not many sports car enthusiasts would make their decision based on economy, but if you’re the rare breed that cares, it’s another impressive mark for the 2.0L. Mid-30’s MPG is easy on road trips, and even 40 is attainable with conservative driving. Attacking the throttle will of course compromise that a bit, but it’s still better than most sports cars that are half as fun to drive. The 3.0L seems to attack the fuel gauge a bit faster, but who can blame you when you try to experience that thrilling launch as much as possible? For the 2.0L though, practical space and surprisingly practical fuel economy grants it an impressive 8 out of 10.
Yes, it’s a performance car, but it’s also an impressively comfortable cabin. The afore-mentioned road trips with great gas mileage is accompanied by comforting, spacious seats. Despite the relatively narrow cabin, the seats are very adjustable, including lumbar and even bolster width. I never found them fatiguing, but rather supportive and gripping. I actually found myself preferring the alcantara in the base seats as opposed to the premium leather of the 3.0L Premium. The downside to the 2.0 in comfort is the lack of heated seats or steering wheel. Other brands have done heated alcantara, but I suppose they have to differentiate their models in some way.
Sound isolation is well-done, as the cabin stays fairly quiet especially for a sports car. However, if windows are open and you hit roughly 40mph, you’ll start to experience the famous wind buffeting. It’s intolerable, and surprising that Toyota didn’t address it on the second year model. Essentially, the unique shape of the car will funnel wind into the cabin at certain speeds with a deafening beating sound. This is easily addressed, however, with a small canard placed opposite the mirror. Plenty of aftermarket options exist to resolve it. All things considered, 8 out of 10 for comfort, a best for sports cars thus far.
The Supra is a sports car, yes, but an incredibly modern one. There is almost no compromise from a technical perspective, especially on the 3.0L. It will give you the electronic suspension/differential, Wireless CarPlay, Heads-Up Display, Qi phone charger, along with Toyota— erm, BMW’s full infotainment suite. The previously premium 9” display on the 2020 Supra release is now standard across all models. It’s a tremendous screen, very high pixel density, though I sometimes wish it was a bit brighter, and I do wish CarPlay could extend the whole width.
Despite the slightly fewer options, the 2.0L is still very well-equipped. There is no way (at least through Toyota) to have heated seats, Qi phone charger, or HUD on the 2.0L, but those weren’t exactly deal-breakers for me. It’s still an impressively technological car. Especially when opting for the safety/technology package, which grants you the Wireless CarPlay and dynamic radar cruise control, and the fantastic JBL premium sound. Otherwise you have the same interior and 9” screen as the 3.0L, a fantastic offering for a performance-minded car.
Though I haven’t heard either base sound system, the JBL is a very intriguing option for anyone who enjoys quality music experiences. The base stereo on the 2.0L is a very minimalistic 4 speaker system, and I’d be afraid to test it. The 3.0L has an improved 10 speaker “Hi-Fi” system, but both have JBL as an option. I think it’s worth it, especially on the 2.0L. Overall 8 out of 10 for technology.
Connected Services 8/10
Piggy-backing on technology is the impressive suite of connected services by Toyota. As of this writing, there is an iOS app dedicated to the Supra, different from the generic Toyota app. Titled “Supra Connected”, you can see the current status of your Supra, ventilate or pre-condition your car, lock and unlock your car, flash the headlights, honk the horn, locate the Supra, send destinations from your iPhone to the navigation and start door-to-door navigation. For Android devices it is possible to use largely the same functionality from the Toyota Supra Connect portal (www.supraconnect.com). What’s interesting but half-expected is that BMW made this app, because, well, it is largely BMW under the hood and under the roof. This app, along with the typical Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and quite decent navigation, help with the streak of scoring 8 out of 10.
Active Safety 7/10
Well, this is no Tesla. But it has a lot of active safety features to ease your mind in your spirited commutes. ABS and VSC come standard, as well as pre-collision warning (with pedestrian detection), lane departure warning with steering assist, brake assist, and automatic high beams. With the safety/technology package, that adds blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and low speed emergency braking. I wish they would have included everything as standard, but it’s still nice to see the essentials. Along the lines of safety is the driver assist features, including the optional dynamic radar cruise control. It works quite well, though lane departure with steering assist doesn’t necessarily keep you centered in the lane. Though it is a nice safety piece. Everything worked as expected, and the 3.0L has the added benefit of cruise control information on the HUD. The 2.0L has the info on the left digital display in the gauge cluster. There is not much safety that doesn’t exist on the Supra, and given that there is no convertible or targa option, it makes it even safer in a rollover scenario. 7 out of 10 for safety.
This is an interesting category, because there’s really not much competition in the exact segment, for either car. You can find sports cars for less, but much less powerful and balanced, or plenty of super or semi-super cars at for considerably more money. But the Supra, as it stands, is a solid value. Build quality and interior components are comparable to the nicest M-cars from BMW, understandably so. The 2.0L Supra especially feels well-priced for the capability starting at $43,000 or in our case, $47,000. It provides plenty of power, especially given the 3,181 lb curb weight. Almost $10,000 more will give you the 3.0L, with even more power, electronic adaptive dampers, electronic differential, and a couple interior bells and whistles.
Both options are good value, but you get most of the car with the 2.0L, while saving a fair bit of money to boot. If you like the looks and interior, and if you are happy with the impressively capable HP and torque, it’s one of the best value sports cars on the market. I’ll evaluate it at 8 out of 10.
Editors Influence 9/10
I am absolutely smitten. If Toyota does bring back the targa option, and even a manual transmission, I would sell my soul. But as is, this is still an incredible, unbelievably underrated car. The 3.0L gets all the attention, and somewhat rightfully so. After all, it’s a total riot to drive. But in terms of a sports car, built on the roots of Japanese Domestic Market legends, the 2.0L option seems to be more true-to-self. It’s a thrilling combination of usable, capable power with incredible front mid-engine handling. It’s a beautiful combination of a premium interior with practical space and even fuel economy. Granted, that depends how you drive it.
Both Supra models are incredible joint-venture pieces from Toyota and BMW, both have their benefits, and both would put a smile on anyone’s face. It gives me hope that enthusiast cars are here to stay, and I appreciate that they keep up with technological advancements and still attempt to give a pure driving feel. Fleeting are the days of raw dynamics, manual steering, rattles and road noise, but if this is the future, I’m on board. In congruence with the popular saying, I’ll summarize the Supra duo with this: 2.0’s company and 3.0’s a crowd. It depends who you are, but the 2.0L was my cup of tea, at 9 out of 10.