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1996 Toyota Supra REVIEW logo 4/6/2017

What’s New: Manual transmission Turbo models are history, thanks to stringent emission regulations.

Review: Slipping inside a Supra, it's hard to escape the sensation that you're entering an aircraft cockpit, about to face a demanding racetrack trial; and wondering if you've really prepared. Dead ahead await an 8000-rpm tach and 180-mph speedometer, joined by an abundant congregation of pushbuttons. (Full gauges aren't included: just fuel and temperature.) Fire up the inline six-cylinder engine and the first satisfying sounds arrive. Snick the stubby but easy-to-move gearshift lever into notch Number One, ease out the heavy clutch, and the sensations escalate. Easing through the first curve, you become suddenly aware of this Toyota's superlative handling expertise. Few cars can whip around corners nearly as adeptly. No, the 220-horsepower normally aspirated engine doesn't deliver the kind of acceleration that brings rocket-launchers and projectiles to mind. It's fast, but not blistering. If you absolutely must possess the max, look into the turbocharged Supra instead, with its full hundred extra horses. But you'll pay plenty more to knock a second off the zero to 60 acceleration time. And a "basic" Supra is hardly a low-budget machine, either. Instead of the slick-action five-speed installed on the regular Supra, the Turbo gets a six-speed. But no one need feel deprived for lack of a Turbo beneath his or her Supra's bonnet. Oh yes, you can request automatic instead, but it's likely to disappoint in comparison. Controls and instruments are angled toward the driver; even the stubby gearshift lever, which moves with a positive motion between ratios. Front-seat occupants have lots of space, but forget the rear, where legroom approaches zero. Seats are stiff, their bottoms far from soft. You have to peer through a tall rear wing, through a low back window, to see what's in back of a Supra, but good mirrors help. If your wallet is thick enough, in either form you get a 2+2 true sports car that's a joy to handle, a pleasure to drive, a delight to occupy.


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