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Gareth Butterfield tests Toyota’s GR Supra

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SUPRA

Fans of the Toyota Supra have had to wait a long time for this car. The last Supra, the fourth generation, died out in the early 1990s, and this car took over 25 years to bring the name back.
And, some would say, the new GR Supra is not a fitting recreation of the brand. For starters, its underpinnings are pretty much all BMW Z4. Yep, that’s right, Toyota’s in bed with the Germans now.
It’s also available with a two-litre, four-cylinder engine. And the engines, incidentally, also came from the Bavarians.
The interior, and the wing mirrors, and plenty of other bits you’ll find when you’re digging around, are straight out of the Bimmer, and it even has BMW’s slightly controversial I-Drive system.

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But brushing aside the fact that a BMW base is not exactly a shabby platform on which to start, you can forget almost all of this German influence when you take a step back and admire it.
Its lines are gorgeous. Properly visually arresting cars with stunning attention to detail are getting quite hard to come by these days, especially below the £56,000 bracket, which the new GR Supra slots into comfortably.
Those bulges on the roof stand out among the design cues, as if they’re making room for helmets. And the track-focus design cues don’t stop there. There’s also a mock rain light, normally seen on Formula One cars, between the two gaping exhausts at the rear.
And the rear, incidentally, is the finest angle from which to view the new stunner. Its cute duck-tail spoiler follows a gorgeous curve that wraps around the distinctive rear lights, and meet that absurdly wide haunch over the arches.
The side profile is equally dramatic and, from the front, you just need to take some time to drink in the design, particularly the sculpted LED lights and the huge, menacing air vents.

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SUPRA

Conversely, the interior design is quite a sober affair. At least from the driver’s perspective. A large, upright, BMW-derived steering wheel is just the start of the unashamed absorption into what feels like a different world.
Gone are the swoops and slashes of the interior, you’re now very much sitting in a Z4. The row of shortcuts, the short pump-action gear nob, the rotating infotainment wheel and the instrument cluster are all straight from the BMW.
But, as I said, it’s really not a bad parts bin to be borrowing from. Comfort, ergonomics and build quality are top-notch. And Toyota’s added in a 10-speaker stereo system, a big strut brace behind the seats, and plenty of goodies you’d have to beg for in a BMW dealership.
Although there are no rear seats, there’s a decent, usable boot behind the driver and passenger, with a large tailgate giving fairly easy access. The parcel shelf is lightweight but hideously complicated and, weirdly, there’s no exterior button to open the hatch, so you’ve got to pop it open from the cockpit or the key. But, at 290 litres it’s got plenty of room for a weekend’s worth of luggage.

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SUPRA

And if you happen to encounter a twisty stretch of road on said trip, you’ll love the way the GR Supra drives. It’s just so agile, thanks to its 50/50 weight distribution and a low centre of gravity. If I had to quibble, I’d say the steering was a bit lifeless, and the two-litre version I tested could be a bit more dramatic, but its 254bhp is plenty powerful enough for such a lightweight car, and the programming of BMW’s familiar eight-speed automatic gearbox is spot on.
Toyota claims this smaller engine will achieve 38mpg, which is believable if you keep the frivolity to one side, and emissions are a surprisingly amicable 167g/km.
But frivolity is what this car does so well. The stiffness of the chassis and the urgency of the engine inspire confidence in the bends, and I’d go as far as saying it’s almost as poised as a Porsche Cayman, which is high praise indeed.
Arguably, unlike the Cayman to an extent, it’s also very good at being civilised. Slip it into normal mode, sit back and turn all the automation on, including adaptive cruise control, and it becomes a comfortable, competent grand tourer.
Toyota purists might well be cross at seeing a Supra badge on this blended Bimmer but, thankfully, I’ve never adored Supras, I’ve merely admired them. And so, refreshingly, I can look at this car for what it really is – hard-top BMW Z4 with a stiff chassis, a fine drivetrain, classic BMW handling and a gorgeous Japanese bodyshell.
Take away the fanboy prejudice and you can see the GR Supra for what it is. A thoroughly decent sports car.

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