By John Faulkner Clean Fleet Report with photos by Lex Adams
When Toyota and BMW got together to create the 2020 Toyota GR Supra 3.0, they knew this rear-wheel-drive sports car had to have immediate cred. So they came out of the gate with a 3.0-liter, twin-scroll turbocharged inline 6-cylinder engine that produces 335 horsepower and 365 lb.-ft. of torque. They called on the German company ZF for a slick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission, with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, to produce quick 0-to-60 mph times around 4.0 seconds.
The GR Supra 3.0 is a blast to drive, so as Toyota used to say, “Who could ask for anything more?” Well, how about a GR Supra that delivers the fun – but at a lower price?
Bring on the new 2021 GR Supra 2.0, which will be in dealerships late in 2020. Toyota is positioning the GR Supra 2.0 as an intermediate sports car, slotted between the 86 and the GR Supra 3.0. Looking at the performance and price comparisons below, this makes sense as it gives Toyota a compelling story on value for performance.
GR Supra 3.0 vs. GR Supra 2.0
What are the main differences between the GR Supra 3.0 and 2.0? Let’s take a closer look.
GR Supra 3.0 Premium
3.0-liter inline twin-scroll turbocharged 6-cylinder engine, 335 horsepower, 365 lb.-ft. torque, 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires (255/35ZR19 front, 275/35ZR19 rear), 3,397 lbs. curb weight, Brembo® four-piston caliper brakes, 0-60 mph in 4.0 sec., $49,990 base MSRP.
GR Supra 2.0
2.0-liter inline twin-scroll turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, 255 hp, 295 lb.-ft., 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires (255/40ZR18 front, 275/40ZR18 rear), 3,181 lb. curb weight, Brembo single-piston caliper brakes, 0-60 mph in 5.0 sec., $42,990 base MSRP.
GR Supra 2.0: Entry Level, But No Slouch
The 2021 GR Supra 2.0 has a 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder with a twin-scroll turbocharger that produces 255 hp and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. We had a brief two days driving a GR Supra 2.0 prototype and were able to turn consistent 0-to-60 mph times around 5.0 seconds. The rear wheels are driven by the same 8-speed automatic transmission as in the more powerful GR Supra 3.0.
Based on the above, the obvious departures between the GR Supra 3.0 and 2.0 are the weight, engines, horsepower, torque and wheel/tire size.
Other differences include: The GR Supra 2.0 uses smaller front brake rotors than the GR Supra 3.0 (330mm x 24mm vs. 348mm x 36mm), with single-piston calipers vs. four-piston. GR Supra 2.0 does not have the Active Rear Sport Differential and Adaptive Variable Sport Suspension used on the 3.0 model. A four-speaker audio system is standard, vs. the Supra 3.0 Premium’s 10-speaker system. GR Supra 2.0 seats are manually adjustable, vs. 14-way power-adjustable in the 3.0.
We had a quick two days in a prototype version of the 2021 GR Supra 2.0. The understanding when driving a prototype is it may not be as complete nor sophisticated as a production model. That’s fine with us as getting seat time in a car that isn’t in dealer showrooms yet is a treat.
The 2.0 handled better than the 3.0. Sacré bleu! First, because it weighed 200 pounds less, but also because the reduced horsepower and torque were more usable in more situations. The best performance comes into play when cornering hard is enhanced by having the ability to use all the available power when you need it.
When the Mazda MX-5 Miata came out with a new engine in 2018, there were many who wanted it to be more powerful. When you drive the Miata, you will see why Mazda’s engineers constrained themselves on the horsepower and torque. Svelte handling is never compromised by having too much power and torque. This is the same with the GR Supra 2.0, which has all the power anyone needs for carving mountain passes, and allows you to lay down the power to the rear wheels with control.
Observations: 2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0
We plan to do a full Road Test review when the 2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 goes on sale, seeking-out the tightest mountain corners and the longest sweepers we can find. We will report back in Clean Fleet Report on the 2.0’s handling, fuel economy, and if the $7,000 lower price compared to the GR Supra 3.0 would affect your joy factor.
Oh, we probably should mention the 2021 GR Supra 3.0 is getting an increase in horsepower to 382 and torque to 368, so maybe that will be a factor if you go for the more powerful GR Supra. It’s great having so many options.
2020 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Premium Review
By John Faulkner Clean Fleet Report with photos by Lex Adams
Pure Sports Car Pleasure
Some of the cars I review are hard to give back. One week in the 2020 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Premium was not nearly enough seat time, for what may be the best handling and performance street car Toyota has ever built. There wasn’t anything I asked the GR Supra to do that it balked at, and several asks surpassed my expectations.
When the all-new GR Supra was announced as a joint venture between BMW and Toyota, Supra purists (who are now 20 years older from the last time they drove a new Supra, and their memories may be failing them) were outraged the GR Supra would be using the BMW Z4 engine, transmission and suspension. Before even sitting in the GR Supra, they already were lighting up the internet with derisive comments, and saying they would never own such a travesty. Well, my friends, it is their loss. The 2020 GR Supra is a wonderful car!
The Makings of a Fine Sports Car
The 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine with twin-scroll turbocharger runs on 92 octane gas and produces 335 hp and 365 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,600 to 4,500 rpm. Our 0-60 mph times were around 4.0 exhilarating seconds, with power being delivered to the rear wheels through the 8-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The transmission is built by ZF, a German company that provides technologies for several auto manufacturers in the areas of passive and active safety, electronics, steering and, of course, automatic transmissions.
Most people won’t be buying the GR Supra because of its EPA fuel economy rating of 24 mpg city/31 highway/26 combined. In our week, driving 285 miles throughout Southern California, and cranking out some fine turns on mountain twisties, we averaged 28 mpg. In a 150-mile all-freeway run with the dynamic radar cruise control set at 65 mph, we averaged 32.6 mpg. The almost imperceptible stop/start system and aero underbody panels also contributed to the better than expected fuel economy.
That 65-mph freeway run was painful, as the “shelter-in-place orders” meant the freeways were wide open, and the GR Supra really wanted to go much, much faster. We got the feeling that 65 mph is not even half of what the GR Supra can do when fully opened up. Fuel economy numbers reported by Clean Fleet Report are non-scientific and represent the reviewer’s driving experience. Your numbers may differ.
Hitting the Road
The GR Supra is a true sports car, but also can be a grand tourer as it can hold luggage for two and has a suspension that can comfortably handle a few hundred miles on the open road. The GR Supra has what Toyota calls an “optimal weight balance” of 50/50, which was apparent when diving into sharp corners.
When pushed to the limits around a corner, the GR Supra would have slight body settling before it would grab and go. It was a blast to drive a rear-wheel-drive car hard into corners, realizing the Toyota engineers know what a sports car is supposed to feel like. This is a serious sports car that begs to be driven on a track.
The handling begins with the grippy Michelin Pilot Super Sport summer tires. The staggered tires, on 19-inch rims, 255/35 front and 275/35 rear, were predictable on corners or when applying the Brembo® four-piston caliper brakes. One issue we had was the lane departure steering-assist being overly aggressive.
There are two driver-selectable drive modes: Normal and Sport. For a more compliant ride and a quieter exhaust, Normal is where we kept it for all freeway and in-town driving. But when corners, freeway onramps and other demanding situations faced us, we quickly put the GR Supra into Sport mode. The result was a tighter/heavier steering feel, a firmer suspension due to the adaptive variable shock absorbers, vehicle stability control, an active sport rear differential and finally, the earthier note from the active exhaust that includes burbling, crackling and rumpling on acceleration, and especially when downshifting using the paddle shifters.
The lasting memory from the 3,397-pound Supra is its balance, which encourages spirited driving with excellent performance. The BMW twin-turbo straight-six was powerful and responsive, and the automatic transmission never having me wanting a manual. I can’t imagine having a third pedal would give the Supra any more performance, or make it any more fun to drive.
Living in Southern California, the car capital of the world, we see just about every car make and model. We even see those that are camouflaged, prototypes in development and testing. So when cars are following you on the freeway, or pulling alongside to shoot videos, or people follow you into a parking lot and strike-up a conversation, you know you are driving something special – and rarely seen. This was the case of our 2020 GR Supra that, painted in Renaissance Red, was easy to spot – and for many – impossible to ignore.
There has been a difference of opinion by some regarding the 2020 GR Supra exterior design, but place me strongly in the camp of those who like it. Whether it’s cues from a Formula 1 nose or the curvy lines and the smooth integrated spoiler, the sleek GR Supra is unique and cuts a great image. The low 4.5-inch ground clearance drives home the point – the GR Supra is made for handling. The faux hood and door vents are not terrible, and I hope indicate the next generation GR Supra will open those vents to provide brake and engine cooling. The red calipers, peeking out through the twin-spoke aluminum wheels, were a nice touch.
The dominant design feature on the GR Supra is the long hood, which is necessitated to accommodate the BMW inline 6-cylinder engine. The sleek six-lens auto-leveling LED headlights wrap onto the fenders, while daytime running lights, in the form of an “L,” frame the headlights. The low roofline sweeps to the elongated hatch glass that ends with the sculpted spoiler and LED taillights. Twin chrome exhaust tips are the finishing touches, along with LED back-up lights on the rear fascia.
Interior Optimized for Driving
The 2020 GR Supra has two seats, which differs from previous generation Supras that had four. For some, accessing the GR Supra could be a challenge. With its low ride height and sloping roofline, flexible knees and a limber back are assets.
After a few ins-and-outs, it became easier to find the best angle to slide into the heated, black leather sport driver seat, which had 14-way power (with power lumbar and side bolsters) and memory. Once inside, the naturally reclined seating position is optimal for spirited driving.
The long hood gave a sense of command, especially when under heavy acceleration and the exhaust is growling its approval. Surprisingly, even with the reclined seating position, rearward visibility, while not stellar, was better than expected. The HomeLink® equipped auto-dimming rearview mirror, and the power and heated exterior mirrors, were up to the task to provide adequate visuals of the outside world. Just to be safe, our GR Supra was equipped with blind spot and lane departure warning technology.
The cockpit design is driver friendly, starting with the very handy full-color head-up display. The leather-wrapped steering wheel has audio, phone and cruise controls, as well as the well-used paddle shifters. The tach is the dominant feature of the 8.8-inch color LCD gauge cluster, as it rightly should be on a sports car. Interior features include a dual-zone automatic climate system, electronic parking brake, carbon-fiber trim pieces, USB ports and one-touch up and down windows.
The center console finds the radio control wheel, with manual controls for audio and channel selection. Tunes were through the optional Bose® 12-speaker, 500-watt audio system with navigation. Audio features included AM/FM, SiriusXM® and Apple CarPlay®. While it sounded great, we felt the audio system was overly complicated to operate and unnecessarily confusing. This is odd, as other Toyota vehicles we’ve reviewed have much easier to use audio system interfaces.
Safety and Driver Assist Features
Our GR Supra was equipped with eight airbags, a rearview camera, forward collision warning with automatic braking, and lane departure warning with steering assist. It also had the optional Driver Assist Package, which included advanced driver safety assistance systems (ADAS) of adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear parking sensors with emergency braking.
The 2020 Toyota GR Supra comes in two models. Prices for each, excluding the $955 delivery, processing and handling fee: 3.0 – $49,990; 3.0 Premium – $53,990.
Clean Fleet Report’s 2020 GR Supra, with $1,275 in options and the $995 delivery fee, had a bottom line of $56,260.
Observations: 2020 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Premium
Twenty-one years is a long time between a car ending production and starting up again. With so much on the line and sports car enthusiasts around the world paying very close attention, Toyota knew the importance of getting the all-new GR Supra right.
The word value usually doesn’t come into play when discussing a car costing more than $50,000. In the case of the 2020 GR Supra 3.0 Premium, it needs to be part of the conversation as the driving experience, performance, handling and design are a reminder of how good a car it is.
Many of the two-seat sports cars we drive are not conducive to being an everyday driver, especially if you spend any amount of time on a freeway. Thanks to a stiff suspension and low profile tires, the ride on many sports cars can be harsh and rough. We found the 2020 GR Supra 3.0 Premium to be more than acceptable on the open road, which is why it can be considered a grand tourer.
The GR in the Supra’s name is short for GAZOO Racing, which is Toyota’s motorsports division. This is not to be confused with Toyota’s performance division, Toyota Racing Development (TRD). The takeaway is that Toyota is serious about performance and motorsports, both of which are apparent in the all-new 2020 GR Supra.
If you are ready to ditch the SUV for something more exciting, then definitely take the GR Supra for an extended test drive. For those who feel a Supra with BMW underpinnings, built in Graz, Austria, is blasphemous to the Supra name and legacy; guaranteed, you will change your mind, maybe even faster than the under 4.0-seconds to 60 mph.
About the Author and Photographer
John Faulkner is Road Test Editor at Clean Fleet Report. He has more than 30 years of experience branding, launching and marketing automobiles. He is a journalist member of the Motor Press Guild.
Lex Adams is a photographer at Clean Fleet Report. He enjoys combining his two favorite interests of cars and photography. He is a Mini Cooper fan, having owned five different models.
Toyota GR Supra press fleet vehicles provided by Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A, Inc. Prices and vehicle information applies to U.S. models at time of posting, not including taxes, license, etc. All product information, including prices, features, and specifications, is subject to change without notice
Story © 2020 Clean Fleet Report – Photos © 2020 Lex Adams
GR Supra reviews from Clean Fleet Report are reposted with permission on CarNichiWa.com