The last Toyota Supra was the best looking and most powerful Toyota sports car, and the only one to make it into the supercar league. It had all the features you expect of a sporty coupe – low, lithe looks with a fastback, and a dramatic front end with a low grille and large streamlined glass covers over the headlamps. It was also quite short.
On the Turbo, the back end was even more outrageous, with a massive high-mounted spoiler. It was powered by a three-liter engine developing 326 bhp, and would reach 60 mph in about 4.7 seconds. Not our ordinary Toyota!
Sadly, the Toyota Supra went out of production when at its peak, as the company put more effort into the Lexus brand.
The appearance of the Toyota Supra in the Fast and The Furious film made this symbol of the Japanese illegal street racing made it a real cult car, and thus one of the most wanted cars around at the time.
It was the Turbo model that really set the Supra alight, giving it supercar performance. Although a sporty coupe, it could be supplied as an option with a removable roof panel, giving semi-alfresco motoring.
Toyota had developed the Supra engine for over a decade, so the 3.0-liter twin ohc 24 valve in-line six was smooth, powerful and reliable. In turbocharged form, this engine developed 326 bhp, enough to give a superb performance.
Low-speed performance is pretty good, too, thanks to the use of sequential turbocharging – one spinning continuously for good low-speed response, the other kicking in when you want to unleash all the horses. One valve in the intake system shut to prevent the second turbo operating at low speed, and another shut off the exhaust flow. At higher speeds, these valves were opened so both turbos delivered maximum boost. This was a very advanced arrangement at the time – and highly effective..
Coupled to this engine is a six-speed Getrag manual transmission, but there was an option of a four-speed automatic with manual shifting.
Toyota’s stylists wanted to make it clear that their new Supra was something special, and they succeeded. The Supra is something of a rolling light show. There are six lights up front, not counting marker lamps, and eight across the stern, not counting the high-mounted centered brake light.
It’s an arrangement that helps to set the Supra apart, and certainly lets other drivers know when you’re coming – or going, specially with the transparent plastic covers for the rear lamps – one of the first cars to adopt this now-fashionable design.
An innovation was the adoption of a front spoiler that lowered automatically at speed to reduce lift. Standard equipment was impressive with ABS, traction control, air conditioning, power mirrors and locks and cruise control.
The Supra’s weight distribution is exemplary, a key element in this car’s balanced handling. Also, extra-wide wheels and tires give plenty of cornering power, and the lightweight aluminum double wishbone suspension maintains good handling balance. The suspension is designed to keep the wheels at almost constant angles to the road, which should ensure consistent handling. In practice, the car could be a handful on slow corners, especially in the wet, with the switch from understeer to oversteer quite quick.
Big tires and brakes give the driver god control – ad in this area, the Supra’s performance may very well be the best in its class. We were also impressed by the performance of our test car’s Torsen limited slip differential, which helped keep the rear wheels driving smoothly even in hard cornering and emergency avoidance maneuvers.
Toyota made a lot of effort to reduce weight, adopting high-strength steel for 37% of the body panels, and aluminum for many components including the hood, engine mountings, and the hubs of the disc brakes. Kerb (Curb) weight was quite high at 3,568 lb (1,620 kg) for the manual; the automatic was unusually 90 lb lighter.
What this adds up to is a driving experience that’s at least as satisfying as its major competitors – provided you’re on dry roads. On slippery surfaces, the Supra’s substantial power, rear-wheel drive and fat tires – designed for maximum performance on smooth, dry roads – can make for tricky driving.
Considering its finely honed handling, the ride is surprisingly comfortable. It was fairly compliant over good road surfaces, although tar strips and pavement ripples provide little reminders of the steel in its sinews. On rougher surfaces, the ride tends to be choppy, and transmits a fair amount of road noise to the Supra’s interior.
The cockpit of our Supra was well-organized, attractive and cosy without feeling too claustrophobic. There’s more elbow room here than in, say, an RX-7, although the Supra conveys the same kind of race-car ambiance – purposeful comfort, in contrast to the kind of near-opulence of the previous generation.
Most controls are well-marked and easy to find after a brief orientation. Like all 2+2 coupes, getting an extra passenger into the back is quite an adventure.
The Toyota Supra has awesome supercar performance with superb looks and Toyota reliability. Yet you get Ferrari-like performance for a fraction of the price (about $37,000). Have fun driving it!
|Car type:||2+2 coupe|
|Main dimensions (L x Wx H):||178 x 71 x 50 in (4,515 x 1,810 x 1,275 mm)|
|Wheelbase and track:||100.3 x 60 in (2,550 x 1,520 mm)|
|Kerb (curb) Weight:||3,568 lb (1,620 kg)|
|Engine and transmission|
|Power output:||326 bhp @ 5,600 rpm|
|Torque:||325 lb ft (440 Nm) @ 4,600-5,000 rpm|
|Transmission:||6-Speed Manual or 4-speed automatic|
|0-60 mph:||4.7 seconds|
|0-100 mph:||11.8 sec|
|Top Speed:||155 mph (175 mph unregulated)|