Is 258 PS enough for a real Supra-Feeling?

Around 10,000 euros separate them in price, two cylinders and 82 HP in engine. The basic Supra with four-cylinder turbo is a sports car for the country road, but is it good enough to outdo its big brother?

It tears up the right-hand bend with a lunge to the left to fuel the driving pleasure. Then he takes the next straight apart. Six cylinders, 340 hp: The big Supra is a guarantee for driving pleasure – whether on the Swabian Alb or on the race track. It steers true to feel and is wonderfully controllable via the gas and through targeted load changes. It intoxicates without over-revving.

Changing places, out of the big, into the small Supra. And the rest is almost the same: 18 instead of 19-inch wheels, chrome-plated exhaust tailpipes, plus seven millimeters in vehicle height. What counts is what’s inside: four cylinders in a row instead of six. Is less in this case perhaps even more?

Reason instead of great feelings

Now the small Supra whirls over hilltops and speeddates the most different curve types. A kiss on the left, a kiss on the right, an intense flirt at the apex – the mind says yes, but the heart decides. The last spark somehow doesn’t want to skip completely.

The little Supra feels alive and kicking. When the ground is dry, however, you have to work hard to get the four-cylinder engine with the rear up and running.

The small Supra is about 10.000 Euro cheaper than the GR 3.0, but only those who are driven by reason (the wallet) will really consider it. Whoever has met both of them at speed dating will dance into the relationship with the six-cylinder. It doesn’t have to be the big engine just because of tradition. The three-litre engine is in the back of your mind on every straight and in every bend. Which alone is proof that the Zwonuller does not captivate you. It may get the place going, but it doesn’t make it shake.

The new Supra entry-level model only looks really unleashed when the asphalt under the 18-inchers is slippery. The new Supra entry-level model only really comes into its own when the tarmac under the 18-inchers is slippery. When the driver switches to sport mode, the rear tire slips more at the touch of a button, and the small Supra wiggles out of the traffic circle, unerringly sticks its nose into the curve and exits through the rear exit. It’s wonderful how the tires sparkle into the cockpit when the grip breaks off.

But as soon as the ground is dry, you have to work hard to really get the four-cylinder engine and the rear of the car moving. Compared to the three-litre engine, the four-cylinder lacks that decisive bit of torque needed to break through the grip – and of course, on country roads the curve radii are shorter and the run-off zones smaller. So you leave yourself a buffer if it’s not as easy as with the Supra six-cylinder engine.

The four-cylinder – like the big one, also from the BMW shelf – is a good engine in itself. The compressor wheel quickly heats up the four cylinders one after the other, one after the other, using gas. At just over 1,500 rpm, the torque swells to the full 400 Newton meters and extends to 4,400 revolutions. These are good omens for the image spurt that the small Supra completes in 5.4 seconds – one second slower than the six-cylinder. Yet it still feels very much alive.

70 : 30 per four cylinder

It takes almost 22 seconds for the four-cylinder engine to accelerate the Japanese sports car with rear-wheel drive to 200 km/h. With two more cylinders, it’s a full five seconds less. Nevertheless, you don’t have the feeling of being underpowered. This is already a fine engine! The power is sufficient to give the Supra sufficient thrust. 100 km/h, seventh gear: The four-cylinder engine pulls it up the hill with a lot of force, without the fabulous ZF sports automatic having to shift down a gear. A short detour: How quickly this transmission reacts to requested gear changes, how finely the gears mesh – nothing jerks, nothing slips. In short: That is great engineering.

The problem is that the two-liter turbocharged engine runs out of air on top. The four-cylinder engine turns until shortly before 7,000 rpm. But it lacks the second air in the upper speed spheres. The lively gives way to a certain coziness. Powerful at the bottom, less energetic at the top: You notice this especially on the race track, on long straights like the Parabolika.

All this would hardly be worth mentioning if the small Supra were to tear it out in the corners. On paper, everything still sounds very, very promising. It weighs up to 100 kilograms less than the six-cylinder. The weight distribution is even more balanced, says Toyota. The four-cylinder turbo is shorter and therefore more central.

Toyota GR Supra, Motor

The 258 hp four-cylinder engine is shorter and therefore more central. The basic Supra has a perfect weight ratio of 50:50.

But theory shrinks in practice to a weight advantage of 26 kilograms, which is distributed 50:50 (instead of 52:48) across the axles. The reason: the equipment. The Supra 2.0 actually only has 100 kilograms less in the basic version. And with “only” 26 kilograms, the disadvantage of 82 hp and 100 Newton meters less is more significant.

The Japanese developers tuned the chassis to the lower load on the front axle. For example, the springs and dampers were slightly different in taste. The suspension remains the same: double MacPherson struts at the front, five-link axle at the rear.

The 2.0 does not build up the feeling of its big brother even in slalom. The differences are small, but noticeable. Test driver Uwe Sener sums it up: “More movement, more lubrication, more unfeeling steering. The numbers support the impression: The little one masters the slalom with a little less speed than the 3.0. And the scissors also open on the brakes. 34.4 meters from 100 km/h to a standstill is a decent figure, but not at the level of the big Supra (32.9 meters – sport auto 8/2019).

The six-cylinder engine also outshines its weaker brother in terms of sound – of course. From 3,000 revs, the four-cylinder starts to hum more strongly into the interior without really spraying flair. Nevertheless, Toyota expects that the small one will eventually outstrip the big one. As of June, the Japanese manufacturer has sold around 500 Supras in Germany since the market launch last year – and that means cars that don’t end up at the dealer’s but actually make the customer happy. 480 of these were equipped with six-cylinder engines. However, the statistics are somewhat diluted. Firstly, the four-cylinder did not start up until March, and secondly, the market was idle afterwards because of Corona. In the future, Toyota calculates, the distribution will be 70 to 30 percent. Per four-cylinder. The common goal is to deliver more than 1,000 Supras a year in Germany.

Conclusion

The Supra is a cool sports car – whether with four or six cylinders. But the really big emotions are only awakened by the unconventional Japanese with its big engine. That is why I would go for 3.0. Whoever gets the small Supra will still have fun with it.

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