Toyota Supra 2019 prototype review


Push the Sport button and the throttle and gearbox response sharpens, but there are gearshift paddles, so if you want a quicker response it’s probably more rewarding to take control yourself. There’s no word on a manual gearbox yet, but Toyota would like one.

The Supra rides well too – better than, while on the same size tyres as, a BMW M4: bespoke Michelin Pilot Super Sports, 255/35 R19 at the front and 275/35 R19 at the rear.

Passive dampers will be standard but adaptive dampers were fitted to the cars we tried. These, too, firm up via the Sport button, as does the steering weight, although in regular daily driving there’s no need: the underlying compliance is welcome but there’s no sense that the body weight is getting away from it.

The Supra feels like a stable, well-rounded sports coupé. Its engineers say they did 90% of its development work on the road, and I think it shows. In town, on the motorway, it’s mature in a way that, say, a BMW M2 Competition or Alpine A110, perhaps even a Cayman, are not.

It’s only when you get on to a country road, then, that you start to push the boundaries of the standard suspension setting’s limits. The steering is smooth, progressive, sharper off the straight-ahead than some front-engined coupés, presumably to give an extra sense of agility that, compared with a 718, the Supra simply can’t have. Body roll builds progressively, but this is where you want the dampers firmed because, without it, as you get back on the throttle and the differential begins to worry about acceleration, you feel the body’s mass shifting in a way I don’t think you would in a Cayman.

With the dampers tightened the sensation is much alleviated, with not too much loss in compliance, and there’s a pleasing, reassuring balance. Hints of understeer on the way in, likewise oversteer on the way out, not unlike, say, an Aston Martin Vantage, only a bit lighter. A BMW M2 with both more compliance and control (or an M2 Competition with more compliance).

Swapping into and following in a GT86, though, you’re reminded of the advantages that minimal mass gives you: sure, the GT86’s engine is wheezy but, working it hard, you can carry speed and enjoy delicate fingertip steering responses that are denied to the bigger car. It’s a reminder of how exceptional the GT86’s chassis is; which I suspect wasn’t the objective of the exercise.

But still, there are other things a Supra can do. The engine is extremely sweet, smooth and broadly responsive but happy to rev. In Sport mode, a flap opens in the exhaust and Toyota says there’s more work to do on the induction noise, probably via sound tubes off the engine – so real, rather than fake noise. But, unlike a Cayman, you’re happy to let it sing, or sit at high revs pre-overtake.

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