2023 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Premium review
Oh, what a feeling!
That’s what Toyota used to crow about its cars. But let’s be honest, the feel great cars are usually just that — cars with a sporty nature. I mean, a pickup or SUV is a conveyance. A sport car is an attitude.
Toyota’s latest GR Supra 3.0 Premium certainly has a tude. It starts with that snazzy rounded bodywork, especially its rear haunches, not to mention its elongated hood. The basic shape is nothing new. Consider the original 1960s Toyota 2000GT, or the Nissan Z car, or heck, even a Porsche 911. But it’s the interpretation of that basic shape.
Certainly, looks are important in the sports car market, as is power and for the old-timers and traditionalists, the ability to shift as one sees fit. Well, when Supra re-appeared after an 18-year hiatus for 2020, it offered only an 8-speed automatic (still available). That was all well and good. But enthusiasts with strong left legs begged for a manual.
It took three years, but the manual shifter is now available and, not surprisingly, it’s a smooth one, mostly, creating an even more engaging driving experience. I say mostly because slipping the Supra into reverse gear is pretty sticky, at least on the test car. But zipping from first through sixth gear is a blast, and downshifting automatically creates a happy engine blip. Cool beans!
This being the Supra 3.0 means the 6-speed is lashed to a 3.0-liter twin-turbo I6 (made by BMW as Supra was a cooperative deal between the German automaker and Toyota). The I6 makes a generous 382 horsepower and cranks 368 pound-feet of torque to spin the rear-drive tires or chirp them at blastoff.
Running the Supra hard down a highway entry ramp is a perk you seldom get with a larger vehicle. And with these looks, people notice.
But the smallness of Supra’s wheelbase, just 97.2 inches, creates a mighty stiff ride, one that jiggles and thumps especially on crumbling Midwest roads. I’d driven the BMW Z4 cousin to the Supra a couple weeks back and it too delivered an overly stiff ride. Both cars are tuned by their makers, but both emphasize sport over luxury, at least as far as ride goes.
As both have multi-drive mode selections, one might think that a Comfort or Normal setting would work to soften the ride for daily street driving. Nope!
Handling is where you want the sporty feel, and that’s fine in Supra, making turning into a fast corner’s apex a winner, especially in the firmed up Sport mode. That aids acceleration too, naturally. Having just scooted out of the Z4 to the Supra, I’d say the BMW still has a more precise steering feel. But if you’re not planning to race your car, the Supra behaves just fine.
Low-pro Michelin Pilot Super Sport ZR19 tires up front and 18-inchers in back give the Supra excellent grip. But they also contribute to the stiff ride and noisy interior as the tire and road noise can create a disquieting drone on a long highway run. I drove to Chicago and back in this one.
The braking is excellent though thanks to the Brembo vented 4-piston discs up front and single-piston models in back. Yes, they are red!
Supra’s interior is mostly driver friendly and cushioned in black leather with power heated seats. Seats are super supportive too, while featuring gray stitching that also carries over to the dash and soft cover door panel tops. Toyota adds black gloss trim to the doors’ armrests and around the dash’s climate control buttons. A carbon fiber look trim graces the console’s top.
The shifter and steering wheel covers are leather. But I sure wish Supra offered a flat-bottomed steering wheel to match its racy image.
Toyota uses an 8.8-inch touchscreen for the info screen mid-dash. The unit works fine but could be an inch or so larger to enhance visual clarity. There is a wireless phone charger below the screen at the console’s front, but as with previous models, there’s an awkward cover over the charger that makes phone extraction less than convenient.
Being a short driver, I found the console’s cupholders a bit too far back. I was constantly bumping the front one’s contents (usually sunglasses) with my elbow. Sight lines also are a bit obscured to the sides by massive A-pillars, but that’s nothing new to today’s cars and SUVs.
The radio is a fine JBL unit with 12 speakers. But due to the cabin noise one must really crank it up to enjoy tunes or news. But this is a coupe, so better for interior noise than the BMW in this regard as it was a convertible. A BMW Z4 coupe also is available.
In back is a 10.2-foot cargo area under the rounded rear hatch. It would easily hold a couple small suitcases and a bit more for a weekend getaway.
Take your platinum card though as you’ll need to put premium fuel in the tank, at least it’s recommended. But mileage is good for a performance coupe. I got 29.4 mpg on my highway drive to Chicago and 25.9 mpg in mostly city driving around Milwaukee. The EPA rates the Supra 3.0 as 19 mpg city and 27 highway.
Pricing starts moderately for a 2.0-liter 255-horse base model, which lists at $46,635, but jumps to $56,745, including delivery, for the 3.0 Premium. The straight on 3.0 trim is only a bit less, so the Premium seems the better deal if one desires its power. There’s also a special A91 manual model, but only 500 were made for 2023 and they started near $60,000.
The bright metallic blue (Stratosphere) paint job on the test car was particularly sharp and added just $425 to the sticker, so why not?
Plus, there was just one major add-on which was a driver assist package that adds smart cruise control, a blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and parking sensors for $1,195. Other safety gear such as lane departure warning, a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and automatic high beams are standard.
Other options were minor, a carpeted cargo mat for $110 and carbon fiber mirror caps for $995. One could live without both.
The final tally was $59,400, which is in the ballpark for the competition, mainly the BMW Z4. But again, it is available as a convertible and several friends commented that my Supra’s top should lower to be a proper sports car.
FAST STATS: 2023 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Premium
Hits: Sporty looks, strong acceleration, quick handling, good traction, and now a 6-speed manual transmission. Plus supportive heated seats and wireless charger along with solid safety equipment.
Misses: Rough small car ride, noisy interior (tire and road), hard to hear radio over road noise, no flat-bottom or heated wheel.
Made in: Graz, Austria
Engine: 3.0-liter twin-turbo I6, 382 hp/368 torque
Transmission: 6-speed, manual
Weight: 3,400 lbs.
Wheelbase: 97.2 in.
Length: 172.5 in.
Cargo: 10.2 cu.ft.
MPG tested: 25.9 (mostly city) 29.4 (mostly hwy.)
Base Price: $56,745 (includes delivery)
Stratosphere paint, $425
Carpet cargo mat, $110
Carbon fiber mirror caps, $995
Driver assist pkg. (cruise control, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, parking sensors), $1,195
Test vehicle: $59,400
Sources: Toyota, www.kbb.com