We gather nine high-performance cars all staking a rightful claim to MOTOR’s inaugural Speed Test crown, the sum total of which adds up to 3 210 kW and R20.8 million! Ray Leathern and Damian Adams are your adjudicators on this three-day hellraiser on the Western Cape’s finest driving road.
You cut to the chase on the masterful Franschhoek Pass just south of the wineland town of the same name – arguably the jewel among the countless gems of Western Cape driving topography. Sometimes the gods of speed choose to smile upon you a little brighter than usual and due to heavy rains and a freakish landslide in the preceding months, the pass just so happens to be closed to the usual tourist traffic lopping out of Franschhoek. So, when approached from the southern, Theewaterskloof Dam side, a deserted 16 km stretch of driving nirvana awaits. It’s our own personal race track for MOTOR Speed Test.
Between R1 – 2 million
Perfect circle – Toyota GR Supra
En route to our picturesque location on day one, the Toyota GR Supra and I were running a tad late following behind the twin-turbo BMW M2 Competition. With a little under 20 km of cold and damp Franschhoek Pass to cover, with the sun threatening to peek its head over the fog-covered Theewaterskloof Nature Reserve, and the temperature gauge reading only 5 degrees, now was the time for the new Supra to prove itself. The spec sheet may not make for exceptional reading when matched to the other cars here, what with its relatively modest 250 kW and 500 Nm, but once you drive it, the revived Supra’s mechanical recipe is indeed something special. The sonorous 3.0-litre BMW-sourced B58 six-cylinder motor is mounted far back towards the firewall with most of the engine packaged behind the front axle. The driving position is low and rear-slung, as if the seats are virtually positioned over the rear wheels, lending it a weight distribution bang on 50:50. Amongst this company it’s relatively simple, too the Supra doesn’t have umpteen selectable drive modes. Something you appreciated when you have to jab Sport mode only once, priming it for maximum attack. The standard adjustable dampers tense up and the steering feel gets some additional weight thrown behind it, while the drivetrain is given a shot of pure epinephrine. The motor howls across the dark landscape pulling hard, as a willing wave of torque is transferred seamlessly to the ground. The serpentine ribbon of asphalt is lit by its blueish luminous adaptive LED headlamps.
All these aspects combine for a driving experience steeped in total confidence. The Supra feels faster than the figures suggest, it shrinks around you and the performance is available and completely usable in every scenario. Once you’re dialled in anyone can drive very close to, if not completely on the limit in a Supra, and revel in its rear-drive poise. In the back of my mind, I know the high-performance Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber is not forgiving on a damp surface; regardless, understeer is communicated through the steering wheel instantly, allowing plenty of time for a course correction, and oversteer is progressive and easily controlled. The compact chassis and short wheelbase make it agile, predictable and the brakes are strong, too, with ABS rarely activating prematurely – a sign of a well engineering car and one that values trust between car, road and driver. That’s exactly the essence of the new Supra, it’s a car you can trust, lean on, thrash and enjoy. It’s crisp, quick, responsive and confidence-inspiring, a driving experience to savour. It may not be a purebred Toyota, but it has proven itself to be purebred driver’s car.
In a nutshell
Toyota GR Supra
Thoroughly engaging drive. Feels faster that the figures suggest
Fussy styling. R1 million+ with metallic paint
Engine: 2 998 cc, 6-cylinder, turbo petrol
Power: 250 kW @ 5 000 rpm, 500 Nm @ 1 600-4 500 rpm
Weight: 1 495 kg
Power to weight: 167 kW per tonne
0-100 km/h: 4.3 sec (claimed)
Top speed: 250 km/h
Tyres: 255/35/R19 front, 275/35/R19 rear, Michelin Pilot Super Sport
Economy: 7.7 l/100 km (claimed)
Transmission: 8-speed auto
CO2 emissions: 177 g/km
Price: R1 082 300
Special award: All-rounder royalty