One name. Howard Moskowitz. Citing the Harvard-educated psychophysicist who revolutionised the food industry is a strange way to start the review of rear-drive sports car, I’ll concede, but that’s before you hear what the man is responsible for. His gift to the world (many will argue it’s a curse) is the ‘bliss point’ in food and beverages: ‘… the scientifically optimised flavour profile that provides maximum deliciousness.’ In other words, the gram-perfect delivery of the maximum amount of salt, fat or sugar to get consumers addicted – without being too salty, fatty or sweet. Having driven the new Toyota GR Supra – itself a carefully orchestrated consumer good from an unlikely BMW-Toyota joint venture – I can’t help but wonder if its chief engineer, Tetsuya Tada, wasn’t channelling some sort of Moskowitz juju, because the new GR Supra conveys wall-to-wall bliss from the moment you punch the starter button, to when you reluctantly vacate the driver’s seat.
Here’s another name. Akio Toyoda. The boss of Toyota and the man who wants to show the company still has a heart and can build exciting cars. So here it is; the long-awaited return of a gleaming halo model, the GR Supra. The car that proves the staff of the world’s largest carmaker can occasionally think outside the spreadsheet. And you get the sense Toyota’s design team in Newport Beach, California; tired of penning one too many Corolla facelifts perhaps, unleashed every single design idea they could muster for the auspicious return of the Supra. That’s not far from the truth, in fact. Based off the 2014 FT-1 concept, the exterior design is an amalgam of every designer’s input, with no one person credited with the complete car. Knowing that helps you better appreciate the admittedly busy styling, coined ‘condensed extreme’ or ‘form sculpted into function’,almost the entire heritage of Toyota sports cars is reflected in its design, with a few extra elements besides.
The inspiration of that high shark nose and the integrated rear fog light comes from Formula One, the powerful bonnet line at the front fender could be Ferrari 812 or Mercedes-AMG GT, the double-bubble roof hails from the 2000 GT, the glasshouse shape is an overly obvious nod to a racing driver’s visor, and that integrated rear spoiler is pure Mk IV Supra. It’s one of the most shape-shifting, colour dependent cars I’ve ever come across. The exterior colour, the prevailing light, the angle from whence it’s viewed riffs off all the elements mentioned above. But arguably the best line in the ensemble is the one that starts on the side sill and rises to form a pseudo air scoop atop the rear haunch. Completely superfluous, sure, but striking as all hell!
Gepostet von Ray Leathern am Freitag, 19. Juli 2019
Many column inches have been given over to this misguided idea that the Toyota GR Supra is merely a hardtop BMW Z4 Roadster with the badges swapped out. Oh how imprudent those commentators are. Having extensively tested both on road and track – hand on heart, I can tell you the Supra has been imbued with its own unique character, and the proof is in the driving! Our Supra adventure takes us through the idyllic Eastern Cape for a cross country blast like no other, before tackling a timed gymkhana challenge and hot laps around the recently resurfaced Aldo Scribante race track in Port Elizabeth.
Straight off the bat, any keen driver will foster an instant connection with the Supra. The seating position is inch-perfect with clear sightlines out in all directions. You steel yourself for all the adrenaline a high-speed drive will bring but this car flatters you, its unerringly comfortable, and makes everything feel almost effortless at any speed range – in that respect it feels something akin to a Porsche 911. I especially enjoy the soft knee pads for the driver and passenger, and the thin grip of the steering wheel; something that’s in sharp contrast to the fatter is best BMW steering wheel.
The engine is an all-round masterpiece, even if you don’t have OCD. 250 KW/500 Nm, yes sir, you don’t get more reassuring numbers than that. All at once it’s powerful, usable, exploitable, balanced, responsive and relatively economical. The story goes that Toyota weren’t happy with the characteristics of the old N55 straight-six engine – after all, a new Mk V Supra has a reputation to uphold and any that’ll-do work from BMW was quickly chucked off the table by the Japanese engineers – hence its redevelopment as the B58 3.0-litre turbo. The performance is intense: 0-100 km/h is dispatched in 4.3 seconds and the top speed is limited to 250 km/h. Although, ahem, take it from us, you can go a fair way beyond that. In a safe environment of course.
The magic of the Supra only begins with its breathtaking turn of speed. Put it in the hostile confines of a race track and prepare for the wonderment of its 50:50 weight distribution, telepathic steering and razor-sharp dynamic response. Fitted with adaptive suspension as standard (Normal and Sport), most sports cars tend to buck, bounce and writhe to the violent demands of a fast, flat-cornering track. Not the supine Supra. After blitzing your first lap, the vehicle is so composed, so together, that you circulate again, intent on exploring newer, faster territory…
Picking up the throttle sooner out the bends, enjoying the traction dance at corner exit, gathering armfuls of turbo six-cylinder revs, the active electronic differential slingshotting you down the short straightaway. Booming blasts emanate from the twin exhausts at every upshift as you flick the car quickly this was then that through the infield section, shaving kerbs like a butcher’s blade on the grindstone, before barrelling up the long, tricky left-hander with the rear Michelins ripping up the tarmac. In this undulating direction change you value the fact the Supra is as stiff as a Lexus LFA supercar! Then it’s the final right-hander that takes you back onto the start-finish straight, the exact moment the bliss point I spoke about kicks in.
The Supra liquidises space and time in the pursuit of sweet speed and motion. It’s quality is beyond genius, it lives in a carefully constructed zone, much like Moskowitz’s bliss point, to give you the perfect sensory profile for great driving without unpleasant overload. Yes, starting at R935 000 for the Supra Track, it is expensive by Toyota standards, but you must remember Toyota doesn’t play the specification game so there are no options, except a few fancy paint colours. It is the measure, and I’d argue the superior, of a lot of sports cars from more fancied marques. The BMW Z4 Roadster included. Just 200 are coming to the country at this stage. Let the bunfight begin.
In a nutshell –
Toyota GR Supra
The drive of your life
You’d hardly call the styling classical. Plenty of BMW trim bits on the inside, too
Engine: 2 996 cc, six-cylinder turbo petrol
Power: 250 kW @ 3 750 rpm, 500 Nm @ 1 500-3 000 rpm
Performance: 0-100km/h 4.3 sec, top speed 250 km/h
Tyres: 19-inch 275/35 R19 Michelin Pilot Sports
Economy: 7.4 l/100 km (claimed)
Transmission: 8-speed auto
CO2 emissions: 169 g/km
Price: R935 000