South Africa

REVIEW | 2021 Toyota GR Supra Horizon Blue Edition scores more power, sharper handling

REVIEW | 2021 Toyota GR Supra Horizon Blue Edition scores more power, sharper handling

Certain enthusiasts were ready to fall on their keyboards when they learnt that the revival of the Toyota Supra would involve the foundation of the BMW Z4 (G29). It produced the kind of disdain that bordered on bigotry.

Luckily naysayers were proven wrong when the final product arrived. Because while the visual cues to the Bavarian donor were plentiful, especially inside, driving the model revealed that the Japanese engineers had reworked the ingredients sufficiently. They were good ingredients to begin with.

The 2019 A90 Supra – with the structural benefit of its fixed ceiling – brought a genuinely sporting character. It was one that rewarded the more passionate driver more than its open-air, Bavarian relation. 

When we reported on the model in July that year, the positives abounded. We declared how good it was that the South African market could now establish meaningful Supra associations of its own: beyond the realm of gaming and cinema. We were not the only ones who praised the dynamic and aesthetic prowess of what was billed as the centrepiece of the Gazoo Racing (GR) road car range.

But even though the model was the recipient of critical acclaim, it has to be said that sightings on our roads are few and far between. You are likely to spot peers such as the Porsche 718 Cayman S, BMW M2 Competition and Audi TT RS with greater frequency.

In a bid to rouse greater excitement for the Supra in 2021, Toyota released a special edition Horizon Blue version, which we spent an extended period of time with in December. Attention to any coupé with performance pedigree is inevitable. But excitement for the Supra from fellow road users saw reactions not experienced with any machine on test in recent memory.

The enhancements for the newcomer are not limited to striking pearlescent paint and matte black wheels. Power gets a bump, too. Its 2,998cc, six-cylinder, turbocharged engine now produces 285kW over the previous 250kW, while torque remains the same at 500Nm.

This, according to the manufacturer, has shaved off 0.2 of a second from the 0-100km/h sprint time, now quoted at 4.1 seconds. Our consumption over 800km of urban and freeway driving was 11l/100km. Toyota claims the suspension geometry has been revised, while a front strut brace has been added to the mix. Its Brembo calipers are emblazoned with the Supra nameplate.

These minor tweaks have not dramatically altered the virtues we enjoyed so heartily in our first interaction with the Supra nearly two years ago.

Inside, you get leather and Alcantara upholstery with blue stitching matching the exterior hue. Nothing has changed on the layout and equipment front. Heated seats, navigation, wireless smartphone charging and dual-zone climate control are among the conveniences to be found in the BMW-sourced cabin.

As before, it fires up with a promising bellow. The acoustics of the vehicle are not overdone – it does without exaggerated rips or belches on upshift, for example. Instead, occupants are treated to a muscular, natural vocal range as the Supra hustles to the horizon.

And hustle it will. Stamp down the accelerator and after the initial, brief break in traction, the Supra just hunkers down and thrusts ahead with an inspiring and energetic sense. As you might have gleaned from that observation about traction, the rear of the model has lively tendencies – but with a predictability that rarely catches one off guard.

It is, however, the duality of its nature that surprises the most. The balance between suppleness and firmness appears to be spot on here, to the point where shoddy roads are handled with more comfort and composure than in the average hot hatchback.

Seriously, the ride quality of the Supra is something to marvel over, with a plushness rivalling an accomplished grand tourer. All this despite large diameter wheels and low profile Michelin Pilot Sport Cup rubber (255/35R19 front and 275/35R19 rear).

Now for the gripes. The thin-rimmed steering wheel is the weakest point of that BMW-sourced interior. Inclement weather taught us that a rear windscreen wiper would not have gone amiss. And on the more peculiar side, the Supra simply cannot be driven with the windows open at any speed, due to the excessive buffeting that occurs. Of course, these are negligible issues and are by no means reasons to scratch it off your shortlist. Dazzling aesthetics, rapid acceleration, entertaining handling and unexpected comfort – the Supra excels where it matters to shoppers seeking a sports car for the real world.

*The Supra Horizon Blue Edition costs R1,163,900.