After patiently waiting more than two decades for the Toyota Supra’s return, maybe you were so excited about the new one that you put money down to secure an early example. Possibly you even paid more than sticker price to be first. If this describes you, if you’re among the 4100 people in the United States who bought a 2020 Supra, then Toyota’s changes for the 2021 model year are going to hurt.
First, a small bit of good news for you first-year buyers: There aren’t a lot of visible differences between the 2020 and 2021 cars, so you’re not missing out there. But the new one does get aluminum braces that tie together the strut towers and core support, borrowed from the BMW Z4 M40i version of this car. It also sees a healthy boost of 47 more horses for the six-cylinder model, to 382 horsepower, and Toyota added a 255-hp four-cylinder to the menu.
For the six, that jump in power over last year’s 335-hp rating consists of more than just software changes to the BMW-sourced turbocharged 3.0-liter. It uses a new cylinder head with a fully separate exhaust manifold—the 2020’s is partially integrated—and has revised pistons to reduce the compression ratio from 11.0:1 to 10.2:1. The drop in cylinder pressure is offset by increased boost from a larger turbocharger. And if BMW’s recent revisions to similar engines in its lineup are anything to go by, then this inline-six likely has a stronger crankshaft, too.
The result is an impressive 382 horsepower and 368 pound-feet of torque. If those numbers sound familiar, that’s because those outputs are identical to the Z4 M40i’s. It appears the Germans may have wanted to hold back their best stuff, at least initially, because Toyota tells us it couldn’t get this engine for the 2020 Supra.
From the first poke of the accelerator, the difference is not obvious. There’s still no manual transmission, but the eight-speed automatic’s 2000-rpm launch-control limiter makes getting to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds easy. That time, however, is 0.1 second slower than before. The 3.0-liter pulls hard across the entire sweep of the tach to the 7000-rpm redline. The extra power is more clearly seen at higher speeds. The quarter-mile passes in 12.1 seconds at 117 mph, a tenth of a second quicker and 4 mph faster than the 2020 car. We also noted that the engine’s exhaust note is more mature, Toyota having toned down the crackle-and-pop theatrics a bit.
Steering responses feel a hair crisper, as Toyota revised the steering calibration to make the effort buildup more linear as cornering loads increase. The electronically controlled dampers receive some massaging, and on our favorite roads, the updated Supra doesn’t bottom out its suspension as often when flung into high-speed heaves. Its tail end also remains glued to the ground under hard cornering, which is new. There’s more understeer on the skidpad, which resulted in a reduction in grip, from 1.07 g’s down to 1.02.
For a car this powerful and quick, the Supra is remarkably efficient. The EPA estimates the revised 3.0-liter will achieve 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, down 2 and 1 mpg, respectively, from the 2020’s numbers. Our test car averaged 22 mpg over 350 miles of driving that included plenty of full-throttle hits, and on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test, it managed an excellent 34 mpg. Last year’s Supra achieved 36 mpg in the same test.
The more powerful 2021 model might not sit well with last year’s Supra buyers, but new owners might someday come to feel a tinge of regret, too, as Toyota says it’s far from done with the Supra. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying the fun now. The new Supra goes on sale in August and will start at $51,945, $1000 more than last year’s model—a minor price bump for a more powerful engine.
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