Theo G purchased this Toyota Supra used for $95,000 (including all on-road costs) in 2021. Theo G would buy this car again because: “From the perspective of a JDM tragic, the A90 Supra has several faults and shortcomings. But, when it comes down to just driving the thing and enjoying it, it’s everything one would wish for, and some. While controversially undeserving of the ‘Supra’ nameplate, it’s no doubt still a brilliant device.”
Like most, I approached the ‘BMW-ness’ of the engine, drivetrain, interior, with a touch of apprehension. And coming off a ‘meh’ ownership experience with a G20 BMW 320d, I was skeptical. Luckily, Akio Toyoda isn’t stupid.
And from my perspective, the “hundreds of changes” made to the running gear, and the refinements made by Toyota, do seem to work so far (whaddya know, Toyota did do something to develop this car). Apart from accidents on my part involving the infotainment, there’s nothing really to fault.
Maybe the only real issue would be a slight miss-match of service interval between the infotainment and real-world, meaning the car can ‘bong’ constantly about a service that’s supposedly scheduled for later.
To sum up: A Labor of Love.
Like many, I’ve been a diehard fanboy of Toyota and their sports cars. But due to all the controversies, rumours and opinion-pieces floating about, I approached this car with a completely level mindset.
So let’s establish the first points:
- Toyota’s 5 year warranty is super solid (and genuinely saved my bacon, when I made my little ‘accident’)
- Everything in terms of the controls and inputs is simplistic, and easy to understand, if you had any prior experience with BMW
- No real teething issues since day one. Nothing out of the ordinary (then again, I did by used. So quick factory reset on the infotainment, and we all good).
Okay. now the ‘labor’ segment.
Just getting into the car itself will cause you to concuss yourself on the sloping roofline, and don’t think it’s any easier to get out, as the thick hips and thick sills don’t really provide anywhere to support yourself. In a tight parking spot, if you’re a person capable of quite literally contorting yourself into a ball where you don’t clip the roof, and clear the door sill and scratch the door on the wall, without any assistance, congrats.
You should be eligible for the Australian Olympic Gymnastics team.
Oh, the paint. It is drop-dead STUNNING in real life (photos don’t do any justice). But if anyone has lived with a car with Matte paint, then they’d know the struggle and stress that comes from taking the car literally anywhere, and living in constant fear of dirt, specks, grass, stones and worst of all, bird droppings.
Any more? Well, storage spaces are a luxury, the BMW bings and bongs can get a bit annoying, and the attention that this thing gets is… a bit much at times (flashbacks to the time my poor mother got sucked into a impromptu red-light drag race by a bunch of P-platers in a clapped out XR6. She won, luckily).
If all you care about is little things like this, then this is the wrong car for you. If you couldn’t tell, I’m nit-picking the living daylights out of it. That’s all I can really think that wrong with it. I’m sure that 99.9% of people would not really care about this anyways. And beside, if you have an issue with the matte paint, just get a different colour. It’s cheaper anyways.
For reference, my mother owns the arch-rival to this car, the Porsche 718 Cayman. And even in this full top trim, with all options (alcantara, matte paint), it still undercuts what was paid for the 718 (both were bought used).
And the amount of kit you get in the A90, by comparison… is crazy.
I’m fully aware of Porsche’s love for the options list, but here’s just the things that the Supra has over the 718:
- Head-up display, with full digital gauge cluster
- Adaptive cruise control, with lane-keeping assist
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Road-sign recognition
- Adaptive LED lights (or just LEDs in general)
- An actual, good sounding engine
That 718 is considered highly-specced…
BMW’s iDrive 6 is, in my opinion, the best version of iDrive (compared to the confusing and frustrating version 7 in the new Beemers), and I guess I’ll say the JBL speakers are… okay.
And apart from infotainment, other funky ‘bits’ are:
- Heated seats w/ memory, based off Driver profiles is super nice. Those profiles also save side mirrors, music, sound settings and shortcut buttons
- Obligatory dual-zone climate control, even in not needed in a cabin this small
- Wireless Qi Charger, genuinely useful and charges an iPhone 11 and other devices quite quickly, but the stupid lid on top of it makes it unnecessarily clunky to dump a phone, or anything there
Obviously, with carry-over old tech from BMW, there’s a lot of things a new-gen Beemer can do. Main thing I’m missing are things such as auto parking, and the really cool ‘Parking Assistant’ that’ll quite literally drive the car out of a small space by back tracing steering input (really miss that).
But overall, super good. As much as realistically needed in a car like this, without being overly intrusive (like other new Toyotas).
Here is when it gets interesting.
We know what the Supra nameplate means. It’s Toyota’s premier. The King of the Crop. While they could cheap out on bits like the interior and such, something they could not mess up is the way it drives, and the way it feels. For the sake of the new ‘GR’ brand, and just Toyota’s reputation, this was do or die.
They got it right.
Effortless is the name of the game. And just ‘PHWOAR’. The B58 straight-six under that long bonnet is nothing short of a masterpiece. The low-end response from the twin-turbo setup is stupendous, and the revs rise so quick until the 7250 rpm rev-limiter.
It’s stupid smooth and refined, and just dummy fast. If you get a good launch, the thing absolutely flies towards the horizon and 100km/h under four seconds (emphasis on good launch. It’s harder than you think). And due to the torque from a standstill, or just rolling in, it does not take much to light up those 275mm rears, even in second. That may also be due to the fact that the Yokohama Neova AD08s strapped to all 4 corners have seen better days.
It’s just got a beautiful ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ personality. Calm, smooth, quiet in normal driving, and a rocket-ship when not.
Oh, and this is just the beginning. The aftermarket scene for these is getting so much better, as everyone gets to grips with the B58. And from what’s been seen on the internet or just wherever, these things are still comfortable bordering 500+ horsepower. So don’t worry. The Supra is still a tuner car, and there are future plans in place to turn this thing into a ‘real’ Supra.
But basically any car can go fast in a straight line. It’s in the corners where it also comes into its own.
Context: for the last few years I’ve been daily driving a Toyota 86, which has been nothing short of absolutely amazing. When the roads come alive so does the car, and due to the lack of tyre grip, low power, and low weight, it’s so ‘natural’ as you feed it through winding mountain roads. Just dances down in a lively manner.
So there’s the benchmark and the goal for the Supra to beat.
Everything is amped up to 11. The steering feel is lighter but more immediate, with a tighter ratio. Tie in 40mm extra tyre meat on the front and 60mm on the rear, and the thing just turns like *click* that. A twitch of the wheel will send the whole thing darting in whatever direction was chosen.
Suspension is another matter. It’s softer than 86, but due to the stiffer nature of the chassis itself, the body roll is only marginally more than the 86 with Sachs dampers. The brakes are super sensitive. Even just breathing on them will anchor the whole car down in an instant.
To sum up: ‘finger-tippy’, and absolutely wonderful.
Bonus mini-comparo to the main rival; the 718.
These two are VERY different beasts. And the complete opposites of each other. While the Supra is light, agile and effortless, the 718 feels heavy, by any metric. The steering, pedal feel, and controls are heavy, requiring more effort and more determination to get the car going where you want it.
But the payoff is that the 718 is a more rewarding and satisfying experience. The Supra makes everything easy; a joke. The 718 needs more out of the driver, and rewards as such. In terms of power, the A90 would walk over the 4-cyl baby Porsche, but the way the turbo hits in the 718 is again more satisfying.
So it’s a matter of preference. Easy or hard? Instant reward or gradual gratification?
With a car like this, tech wouldn’t necessarily be the top of the needs list. But for those who place tech as a higher priority, the Supra is top dog. (Ok, maybe not against the likes of TT RS or Z4).
In comparison to the prehistoric tech in the Porsche, in Alpine, the Supra is space-age, and just makes sense.
Again, iDrive 6 is brilliant. A bit daunting for those uninitiated with BMW systems, with the myriad different menus and crazy amounts of adjustability, but if you really drill it into their heads, then they’d get used to it. The heads-up and digital dials, while not as modular as I would’ve wished, are beautiful. No issues in terms of connectivity with phones and stuff, and it all just works.
- For some reason, unbeknownst to me, Apple CarPlay isn’t available in any form, nor Android Auto (and it’s not like Toyota could just tweak BMW’s infotainment. Unless…)
- Oh and for some stupid reason, the ambient light sensor for all screens and displays is hidden in the darkest corner of the gauge cluster, so unless the light is PERFECTLY shining in that particular area, then have fun squinting like an idiot trying to decipher what each screen is saying. (There is a fix for it, that involves an OBD2 scanner and ‘BimmerCode’ and re-coding the infotainment, but still…)
It’s a Supra. Just guess.
Alright, I guess I gotta write something in to fulfil the word quota.
It’s more comfortable than you think. As said earlier, it rides softer than the 86, and damping is way more refined. Some reviews noted the sibling M40i Z4 suffered from choppy suspension under certain conditions. I can gladly say that I’ve never felt any real ‘choppiness’ under any condition.
I mean, the A80 Supra (yes, the legendary one) was actually designed to be a super capable GT car (hmmm, kinda like a Lexus LC500… moving on). So Toyota actually did quite well in managing to balance ride quality and performance, even with the new focus shift towards raw speed.
Ok. I wonder how many CarExpert readers will recognise this car…
For those unaware, yes. This is Paul Maric’s old A90 Supra. Still on the beautiful Advan GT wheels, with the legendary ‘JAPBMW’ plate (I genuinely checked with some Japanese friends, don’t worry, the plate’s fine).
The car was purchased a couple months ago, and since then I’ve loved every second of it. I jokingly said to my mother after watching the ‘Supra vs GR Yaris’ video that if there was any A90 spec to go for, it would be this one. Exactly as it was, plate, wheels, everything. Hell, when friends came to see we had a ‘new car’, their first impressions were “OH! I’ve seen this before! On YouTube! This is the car!?”
A massive thank you to Paul for even including the Supra memorabilia (The Launch Edition box, with keychain, book and leather driving gloves), and even delivering the stock wheels to us as well. Literally perfect process. And also, he’s even nicer than on the videos.
This was more than a dream purchase. It was one of those ‘pinch me’ moments. As a kid, you read about these kinds of cars, watch videos of them, and then dream what it’d be like to own one. Not even a joke, one of my old pfp’s from years ago, was of an Advan GT wheel. And on PCs, my main background as an FT-1.
Just… it’s a dream.