2020 Toyota Supra Vs. Its Competition
It’ll not have escaped your notice that Toyota unveiled a new Supra this week in Detroit. We’ve been expecting such a beast since what seems like forever. In fact, during the reveal, Akio Toyoda himself jokingly called it the “worst kept secret.”
Guaranteed there will be plenty of complaints from armchair CEOs and keyboard racers who’ve never turned a wheel on track about the new Supra, with carping bound to range from its lumpy looks to its rating of “only” 335 horsepower.
Your author will reserve judgement on the former until he sees it in person; the latter until he gets behind the wheel. For now, let’s take a practical approach.
Who’s in the Supra’s gunsight? It’s an open secret the Porsche Cayman served at Toyota’s benchmark, a claim made by chief engineer Tetsuya Tada, for several aspects of the program.
The Porsche 718 Cayman (just called the Cayman and powered by a six-cylinder engine back when Supra development began) is equipped as standard with a 300 horsepower boosted flat-four, giving the Supra a 35 hp edge. Keep that in mind when talking heads bemoan the Toyota’s power output, as they surely will. There is a more powerful unit in the Cayman S, adding fifty horses and a whole lot of money. Supra power, then, sits right in the middle.
Toyota estimates the Supra will run to 60 mph from rest in about 4.1 seconds when equipped with the company’s eight-speed automatic, the only transmission available. Porsche estimates a 4.6 second acceleration time for a PDK-equipped Cayman S, 4.4 with the manual. The less powerful non-S Cayman launches itself to 60 mph in about 5.0 seconds. Let the argument of driving involvement vs lightning-quick shifts rage on.
With a claimed 50/50 weight distribution, Supra is on the right track to mimic Cayman’s driving dynamics despite the Porsche having its engine tucked in snugly amidships. Yes, centre of gravity is still a thing and even the Supra must adhere to the laws of physics, but its active differential (which uses an electric motor and multi-plate clutches to control lateral torque) should do wonders.
The biggest kicker? Price. Toyota says the Supra will start at $49,990. Porsche fans can’t even get a sniff of the 718 Cayman for that amount, with the P-car starting at $56,900. And good luck trying to find a no-options Cayman at any dealer. Adding the S suffix jacks the Porsche’s sticker to $69,300. That’s a premium of twenty grand; assuming the thing drives well, we will likely be writing articles about how the Supra is a value play in its segment before the year is over.
Despite the company making many overtures about how they’ve tuned and fettled the Supra themselves, there remains a solid connection to BMW. Whether potential buyers see this as a good or bad thing remains to be seen. Check out the tag visible in the door jamb of this press image – “Mfd by Bayerische Motoren Werke” is on display for all to see. For better or worse, there is no doubting this car’s heritage. The “W” which leads the VIN is expected, naturally.
Minor aside: Toyota lists the estimated curb weight of the new Supra at 3397 lbs. The GVWR shown on that door sticker is 4,012 lbs. If you and your passenger are Large Persons, pack lightly.
Other competitors for the 2020 Supra? The 2019 BMW M240i Coupe arrives at the party with a 3.0L turbocharged inline-six, 335 hp, and a starting price of $45,800. Acceleration to 60 mph is about half-a-second adrift of the Supra estimate.
A V6-equipped Jag F-Type also makes for a pretty good foil on paper, with similar power figures but performance far behind the Supra if manufacturer estimates are to be believed. Jag itself pegs 0-60 times for the cheapest V6 F-Type at 5.5 seconds. By that time, the Supra should be in the next area code. Toyota shoppers will also find themselves nearly $20,000 to the good as a 340 hp rear-drive stickshift F-Type starts at $68,850.
It all comes down to, of course, how the Supra acquits itself when driven in anger. Keep an eye out for first-drive impressions over the next few months. Until then, which of these four performance coupes is your pick? The 2020 Z4 M40i and its 382 hp turbo inline-six, by the way, hasn’t been priced yet, but is expected to land in the mid-$60k range.
I’m simply glad not to be talking about yet another milquetoast crossover.
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