Boredom banisher: Toyota goes from rational to raucous
Children often look at the parents and wonder why they’re so boring.
The kids don’t realise the whole “adulting” phenomenon requires judicious amounts of composure and sensibility.
Toyota has made sensible its mantra. While the HiLux continues to kick more goals than Jonathan Thurston, the LandCruiser faithful become more patriotic by the day, meanwhile the new RAV4 is going strong fuelled by a hybrid option.
Yet with all this commonsense, where’s the fun? Then Toyota met with BMW and started talking sports cars.
Rising from the ashes was the Supra. The two brands worked collectively on the two-seater due to business pressure and rising development costs.
Under the propeller badge it wears a Z4 moniker and they share the engine, chassis, key, steering wheel controls, gear lever and infotainment.
Toyota’s bread and butter may be mainstream, yet the price is more akin to a top-shelf ’Cruiser. Drive-away the Supra starts from $88,880 for the GT, while the GTS will see that figure climb to just above $100,000.
Those wincing at the price underestimate the pulling power of Toyota’s new halo car. The most expensive versions were the first to go when it went on sale last year and the initial batch sold in 22 minutes.
Availability has improved courtesy of obtaining extra stock, but the Supra is already in line for upgrades by the end of this year.
The new models will come with upgraded track-focused suspension and power output boosted to 285kW (up 35kW). Supply is once again expected to be tight.
This GTS is as good as it gets before the next iteration arrives, and comes with 19-inch alloys, metallic paint, 12-speaker JBL stereo with satnav, leather-accented trim and a wireless phone charger.
Black Alcantara interior trim costs $2500.
External colour options are red, yellow, white, black, blue, sliver, while the special $2500 matte grey is currently unavailable.
Like all Toyotas, the Supra is covered by a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty. Mainstream best is still Kia, MG and SangYong at seven years, but BMW remains at three.
Capped price servicing is $1900 over five years. The Z4 is $1650 for the basic service- inclusive package that runs for three to five years depending on distance covered.
There’s no official crash rating, but the Supra comes with a strong list of technology including radar cruise control to maintain preset distances from other vehicles, speed zone reminder, and an automatic braking function to help avoid or lessen impacts with other vehicles, cyclists or pedestrians.
Vital inclusions are the rear cross traffic alert, reversing camera and sensors as the coupe its near impossible to see anything when reversing out of carparks and driveways.
Those comfortable with BMW design during recent years will find the cabin familiar territory. It’s certainly more Bavarian than Japanese as the 8.8-inch touchscreen, buttons and operations come from the BMW catalogue.
Climbing inside takes some dexterity. Husky types and those lacking flexibility will find the low-slung position a challenge, along with the figure-hugging sports seats.
This is a sports car, not an SUV catering for the hip or those wanting hip replacements — it’s about attacking corners and feeling at one with the car. Faux carbon-fibre and sports pedals ensure it fulfils the athletic brief.
Operations are typically straightforward (that’s more Toyota than BMW), although storage is restricted. The primary commonsense inclusion of dual cup/bottle holders are placed between the driver and passenger.
There’s also no smartphone mirroring applications, which limits the functionality.
Boot space is impressive given the coupe lines, just shy of 300 litres. That’s better than a Mazda CX-3.
Ride quality remains good for a sports car, not too rough and tyre noise equally satisfying despite being so close to the ground.
Beautifully balanced and possessing magnificent poise, the Supra lives up to the hype.
The heart beating within is BMW’s tried and tested turbocharged straight-six which we’ve seen in many variations, and it’s a beauty.
Sports cars are not just about raw speed — even though the Supra can reach 100km/h from standstill in a brisk 4.3 seconds using launch control — it’s about poise. This coupe has it all.
Accurate steering generates driver confidence and the sub-1500kg weight means it feels lithe and ready for twisty challenges. That impressive scales result is aided by an aluminium bonnet, doors and wheel arches, and the hatch is made from a composite of polypropylene and fibreglass.
One of our favourite winding uphill test runs has some of the finest reach the summit at 90km/h. The Supra, however, hit 100km/h well before the crest feeling like it had barely raised a sweat.
The trick differential keeps the Supra on task at the rear and the 19-inch alloys shod with grippy Michelins mean it’s a coupe which captures your inner driver.
It’s also the first to wear the motorsport-inspired “Gazoo Racing” badge. Prepare for other models, Europe even had go-fast Yaris variants which sold out quickly, in the Australian market.
Performance trumps badges on every occasion. I want composure and compliance.
Driving prowess doesn’t get much better. Fashionable, fun and fast in spades.
PORSCHE 718 CAYMAN $127,710 D/A.
An elite sports car, powered by a 220kW/380Nm four-cylinder turbo with a manual transmission. Not quite as quick as the Supra, but there are few debates when the going gets twisty.
FORD MUSTANG GT R-SPEC $115,000 D/A
This is for the purists, the fastest Mustang you can buy powered by a hulking supercharged 5.0-litre V8 , developing a massive 500kW+/800Nm.
Forget the Celica and even the extremely well balanced 86. This is the real sports car deal. It’s the best sports car money can buy
at this price point.
AT A GLANCE
TOYOTA SUPRA GTS
PRICE $101,300 drive-away (cheap BMW)
WARRANTY/SERVICING 5yr w’ty (on par), $1900 5yrs (reasonable)
ENGINE 3.0-litre 6-cyl turbo, 250kW/500Nm (quick)
SAFETY Not yet tested, 7 airbags, AEB, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise, lane keep assist (excellent)
THIRST 7.7L/100km (8.7 on test)
SPARE None, repair kit (not great)
BOOT 290L (surprising)