John Coyle | Sep 16, 2021

Exterior view of the 2021 Toyota Supra

In the enthusiast world, the Toyota Supra is an icon, and it's impossible to overstate its importance. While a decent performer from the factory, tuners were able to stoke the fourth generation's robust 2JZ engine to astronomical levels of power, which turned it into a drag strip terror. Thanks to The Fast and the Furious series, the car became a movie star too.

So when Toyota announced a new Supra was on the horizon, anticipation reached a fever pitch, and remained in the stratosphere during a development phase that seemed to last an eternity. Due to the prohibitive cost of launching a dedicated sports car in a crossover-hungry market, Toyota partnered with BMW to develop the next-gen Supra, which arrived in dealerships last year.

That means the current Supra is, in many ways, a BMW Z4 wearing a suit tailored by Toyota's design team. That has been a point of contention for many diehard Toyota fans. It's an understandable complaint, to be sure, but it should be noted that Toyota chose to partner with BMW because nobody makes a straight-six like the wizards at the Motoren Werke. And since the 2JZ was a straight-six, heritage dictated that any new Supra needed a similar mill, to honor the legendary engine.    

Now, the fifth-generation of Toyota's legendary sports car is back for 2021, and boasts some updates which were well worth waiting for. 


2021 Toyota Supra Exterior

Exterior view of the 2021 Toyota Supra

While there have been important updates to several areas of the Supra, the exterior styling is essentially unchanged. For 2021, the brake calipers are painted red, which represents the sum of the aesthetic differences between the debut model and the current year car. In my opinion, this is a great thing, both because I'm a sucker for painted calipers, and also because Toyota's design team hit the cover off the ball here. This machine is white hot.

In person, the Supra is smaller than it looks in pictures, which amplifies its athletic lines. The sheet metal borrows heavily from the Toyota FT1 concept, which wowed audiences at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and kicked off the long, long, wait enthusiasts endured before the next-gen Supra finally arrived in dealerships last July.

Stylistically, it's not quite the almost-direct translation we saw between the Lexus LC 500 concept and the production model. But let's say that if the Supra wanted to use its elder sibling's ID? Most bouncers would lift the velvet rope. The concept is longer and wider than the production car, but the Supra's front fascia, particularly the u-shaped crease at the nose, prominent boomerang framing around the headlights, and hockey stick shaped LED lighting, all pay homage to the FT1. The double bump on the roof, a practical consideration that allows more headroom, is also present on the Supra.

While it looks great from dead on and in profile, the rear end of the is a particular triumph. As there is up front, there's boomerang-esque framing around the taillights, and it looks wicked. But it's the sculpted hips, and the way they flow gracefully into the ducktail spoiler, which makes me weak in the knees. Truth be told? I'm not happy about the numerous fake vents which pepper the exterior, but nothing's perfect. 

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2021 Toyota Supra Interior

Interior view of the 2021 Toyota Supra

The Supra is a sports car, and the cabin reflects that. There's no back seat, and storage is limited. While I wouldn't call it cramped, it's definitely cozy, which contributes to the cockpit-like feel. Material quality is uniformly high, and all the controls are right where you'd expect them to be. There's a minimalist feel to things which never feels austere, but elegant, and the orange glow of the gauges highlights that under the skin, the Supra is all BMW. Which isn't a bad thing. 

Taller occupants will appreciate the dual bumps on the roof, and they contribute to headroom significantly. For reference, I'm 6'3" tall, and never felt claustrophobic during the many hours I spent behind the wheel. Because some owners will want to take this car to the track, I checked to make sure I'd fit with a helmet, and had no issues. That said, though they fit me like they'd been tailored, the aggressive bolstering of the seats might be a bit tight for larger people. 

Since the Supra is essentially Toyota's take on the BMW Z4, it gets the latest version of the German company's iDrive system, as opposed to the Entune interface found on models like the Camry or Corolla. Drivers can make selections using the touchscreen at the center of the dash, or the dial behind the gear selector, and either way, the experience is excellent. Standard models get a 6.5-inch screen, while my tester featured the optional 8.8-inch version. Even the most hamfisted of users shouldn't need much time to adapt to the system, and I was particularly impressed by how I could simply speak an address, and the native navigation would plot a course. I didn't manually enter anything the entire time I had the car.

Along with the upgraded display, my tester had wireless Apple CarPlay, and a wireless phone charging pad in front of the gear selector. Both those features were welcome, but the iDrive designers should be commended in that Apple's much-heralded interface felt almost superfluous here. The native system really is that good.  

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2021 Toyota Supra Powertrain

View of the 2021 Toyota Supra engine block

The biggest changes to the 2021Supra are under the hood - and they're likely to make some early adopters less than thrilled. Because along with a revised head and exhaust manifold, the  turbocharged 3.0-liter straight-six got new pistons, and power is up substantially. As opposed to the 335 horsepower and 356 lb-ft on tap last year, there's now 382 horsepower and 368 lb-ft available, and my seat-of-the-pants dyno definitely felt the difference between the two cars.

For what it's worth, the requisite software change also rounded off some of the most aggressive elements of the 2020 Supra's exhaust note. But don't worry. If you like your sports cars to have some snap, crackle and pop, you'll still enjoy the aural accompaniment when you downshift. It's still there, it's just a tad more subtle.

I was eager to get the 2021 out on some of my favorite driving roads, so I headed from Seattle to Ocean Shores, Washington, where I spent the day tackling twisty sections of Highway 101, and the new-and-improved Supra did not disappoint. From the weight of the steering, to noise of the engine, to the linear power delivery, the car is a joy to drive, and everything feels supremely dialed. While thrust doesn't come on with the explosive quality of something like a Mustang GT, it feels bottomless, regardless of what gear you're in, or what speed you're going. To help keep things flat in the corners, there's a new strut bar up front, but I didn't notice the changes to the chassis as much as the additional power.

In Sport mode, the traction control allows drivers a little wiggle room to play before the nannies kick in, and the overall balance of the platform is supremely confidence inspiring. For the record, as far as modes go, it's just Sport or normal, which feels refreshing.

Now, the elephant in the room here is the transmission. Specifically, the fact that there's no manual offered. In the lead up to the release of the Supra, when information was coming dribs and drabs, I was one of the writers howling that it needed a stick, because save the manuals, because sports car, because "purity." But honestly, that position has been litigated to death, and I have to admit I didn't miss the stick during my time with the Supra. That said, the eight-speed's paddles are mounted to the wheel, and not the column, which is where I prefer them, and while upshifts don't snap off with the alacrity of a proper dual clutch, they're still faster than I could manage.  

So if you'd crossed the Supra off your shopping list because it doesn't offer a stick? Take it for a test drive and see what you think. You might be surprised.  

      

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2021 Toyota Supra Safety

View of safety equipment in the 2021 Toyota Supra

The 2021 Toyota Supra hasn't been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Since it's a dedicated sports car, it's not something the NHTSA or the Insurance Institute for Highway generally evaluate.    

But the Supra does come standard with a host of different safety features, including  Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Warning with Steering Assist, Automatic High Beams, and Speed Limit Information. Additional features, like a Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and front and rear parking sensors are available as part of Toyota's Driver Assist Package.

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2021 Toyota Supra Overall

The Supra doesn't have the easiest row to hoe. At its price point, it's facing competition not only from its German cousin, but also the C7 Corvette, Porsche 718, and Jaguar F-Type, which are all exceptional vehicles. There's also the protracted rollout it's still living down, which made some keyboard warriors bored of the car before it even hit showrooms.

But seriously, forget all that. Forget it, right now - because this is an outstanding car. I loved it.  It's visually stunning, it's dead-easy to drive fast, it begs you to beat on it, and it sounds like the business. It also got more positive attention than any car I've driven in the past couple years. While I was testing it, loads of people, from guys in tuned Subarus, to gals in pickup trucks, to hipsters in a vintage store parking lot, were stoked just to be in its presence. So if you've been at all curious about the reborn Supra? Go check one out. It's awesome.  

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2021 Toyota Supra Specs

Layout

2-door, 2-passenger, RWD sports car

Engine/Transmission

3.0L I6, 382 hp, 368 lb-ft
eight-speed automatic

Mileage

24/31 mpg (city/hwy)

NHTSA Safety Rating

N/A


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