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2020 Toyota Supra Review: Why the Supra Is a Finalist and the BMW Z4 Isn’t

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 11/15/2019 Motor Trend Staff
a red car parked on the side of a road: 2020-Toyota-GR-Supra-front-in-motion.jpg

Pros:

  • Paparazzi attention getter
  • Thrilling to drive
  • Competitive price

Cons:

  • Polarizing design
  • Needs smooth roads
  • It's OK, just not great

First things first. Yes, the 2020 Toyota Supra is built from BMW parts in the same Austrian factory as the BMW Z4. So, you ask, how come the Supra advanced to the COTY finalist round and the Z4 did not?

Research the Toyota Supra on MSN Autos | Find a Toyota Supra near you

Naturally, pricing the Supra about $8,000 to $13,000 below a comparable Z4 M40i caught our notice. And although both drew ire for their overwrought "coachwork" during COTY judging (as well as throughout our annual Best Driver's Car contest in the Supra's case), the Supra drew more gas station attention/queries than pricier cars filling up beside it.

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Read about Car, SUV, and Truck of the Year contenders and finalistsHERE.

There's no question: For a certain demographic, the A90 Supra is this moment's "it" car. For some people, it's quite literally a second coming of a legendary model they've only seen in movies. The same cannot be said of the Zzzzz4.

Since their underpinnings are mechanically the same, albeit with different tuning, it was down to those finishing dynamic touches, the way the two manufacturers chose for their cars to drive: the ride/handling trade-offs, road isolation or lack thereof, the way the steering feels/behaves, the brake feel/boost behavior, and so on. There are myriad ways that they can and do differ despite the shared Bavarian parts supplier.

Supra vs. Z4: Read the full MotorTrend comparison here.

Editor-in-chief Ed Loh didn't realize it at the time, but he summarized what nearly all the judges had written in their happenstance BMW versus Toyota notes. "I appreciate the price of this vehicle and the decision to treat BMW as the supplier of such a sonorous and smooth turbo I-6," he said. "It sounds great, and handling is pretty tidy on smooth surfaces, but when you get it loose, stability control intervention is not next-level, as it is with the BMW. But it's very good at it, as the Supra really likes to hang its tail out given the opportunity. It's an easier car to set up and 'just drive' than the BMW because there isn't the proliferation of modes—just Sport—and then you decide if you want to manually shift or not. Refreshingly simple to drive after all the BMWs this year. Very direct. It's basically a simplified BMW."

a red car parked on the side of a road: 2020 Toyota GR Supra front three quarter in motion 2© Motor Trend Staff 2020 Toyota GR Supra front three quarter in motion 2

That's not to say that the Supra didn't show some kinks in its shapely, bulbous armor. News editor Alex Nishimoto found a rattling cargo cover and creaking noises from the infotainment screen and dash: "It's noisy over rough, broken road surfaces, too."

There was criticism of the car's interior, as well. Compared to the its flamboyant exterior, "Inside we're talking all black with some white stitching in the leather and modest use of 'carbon-fiber' trim," Detroit editor Alisa Priddle noted. "The BMW-sourced buttons look very dated, and there's a wireless charging tray for your phone but then a flimsy shelf on top of that."

Technical director Frank Markus felt that Toyota failed to make good use of the digital display. "There's this big swath next to the tach that does not do anything, unless I'm just missing something," he said. "But then the trip computer occupies only a little half-inch strip at the bottom. I hate to see misused or squandered opportunity on digital displays."

Like a proper sports car should, the Supra "needs" its driver. "Handling requires slow hands, no midcorner corrections, be very sure of your line, and don't get twitchy," executive editor Mark Rechtin said. "Straight-line braking is a must. Deviate from this curriculum, and things will get squirrely. Yet it squirts out of corners with a definite thrill."

Research the Toyota Supra on MSN Autos | Find a Toyota Supra near you

International bureau chief Angus MacKenzie earns the last word: "A real sports car, but not the groundbreaker the previous two Supras were."

2020 Toyota Supra
Base Price/As tested $50,945/$57,400
Power (SAE net) 335 hp @ 5,000 rpm
Torque (SAE net) 365 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm
Accel, 0-60 mph 3.9 sec
Quarter-mile 12.5 sec @ 111.2 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 106 ft
Lateral Acceleration 1.01 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight 23.9 sec @ 0.84 g (avg)
EPA City/Hwy/Comb 24/31/26 mpg
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