2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 First Test: Supra or Subpar?

Drive enough cars, and you come to realize the biggest and most powerful versions aren’t necessarily the best. In fact, many of history’s most celebrated cars have prioritized a balanced driving experience over outright power and speed. We wondered if this would be the case with the 2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0, the entry-level version of Toyota’s recently resurrected sports car.

The Equipment

The 2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 is so named because it is powered by a BMW-sourced, turbocharged 2.0-liter engine developing a punchy 255 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Before you jump to call it underpowered, we managed to hit 60 mph from a standstill in just 4.8 seconds. That time makes it quicker than every single other Toyota Supra we tested before the current model made its debut, including the coveted 1997 Supra Turbo, which managed the same feat in 4.9 seconds. The new 2021 GR Supra 2.0 benefits from modern tech like a slick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission, launch control, and sticky summer tires. Its acceleration is 0.8 second slower than the more powerful 2021 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 we tested earlier in 2021.

This Supra does lack some gear that significantly differentiates it from the GR Supra 3.0, including adaptive sport suspension, an active rear sport differential, four-piston front brakes, 19-inch wheels, and larger exhaust exits. The Supra 2.0 makes do with single-piston front brakes, 18-inch wheels, and a smaller exhaust setup. Otherwise, the two variants are cosmetically identical, which is a huge advantage for folks who just want to buy a more affordable car that looks cool.

The Drive

Aside from being quick off the line, the 2021 Toyota Supra 2.0 has impressive grip thanks to its sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. In our skidpad testing, where we evaluate a vehicle’s lateral grip, the car pulled an average of 1.0 g, the exact same as the Supra 3.0. Although it exhibits impressive road holding when the pavement is smooth, the suspension still jumps around quite a bit over rough spots, jostling everyone inside.

The poor manners continue under acceleration and braking. The Supra 2.0 wiggles its tail off the line, and it wants to rotate under hard braking, so it’s important to be mindful of your steering and to keep the wheel pointed straight. We also noted the GR Supra 2.0 requires smooth driver inputs at all times to compensate for its twitchy nature; the car was eager to oversteer as soon as we disabled stability control for our on-track testing.

Brake pedal feel is fantastic, however, with just enough weighting and feedback to allow for reliable and predictable slowing or stops. That said, after a stretch in the canyons, we picked up noticeable brake fade, which was also evident in our track testing. After three stops of 108 feet, 107 feet, and 108 feet from 60 mph, the fourth stop took a significantly worse 124 feet.

All of this isn’t to say the 2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 isn’t entertaining to drive. At times it can be hilariously fun, especially with the massive amount of grip that enables the car to carry a huge amount of speed through corners. The steering is quick and precise, but it takes a while to get used to the numb feel. The thin rim feels great, but the swaths of plastic in its center and bottom spokes deliver a bit of an ungainly look. We also noted in daily driving and on twisty roads that the steering wheel doesn’t like to unwind on its own; we had to apply a bit more force than usual to get the wheel to straighten out. This feeling of gumminess in the rack serves as another distraction within the Supra’s overall fun-to-drive personality.

Whereas the 3.0-liter Supra is more of a hot rod, the 2.0-liter car is brisk enough to be enjoyable but not so quick that you must keep lifting just to keep it near the speed limit. Still, although the smaller powerplant doesn’t have the same grunt as the engine in the Supra 3.0, it still provides some satisfying power when the transmission changes gears, and you get some crackling from the exhaust when you lift the throttle. The drivetrain is very smooth and is fun to rev out, too. It’s perfectly powered for more technical roads, especially with the sheer amount of mechanical grip. The sporty coupe is a joy to send through tight corners, and the best way to drive the car is to find a consistent rhythm while relying on its sticky tires, rather than braking heavily into every bend.

Sport mode adjusts the throttle response, shift tuning, and steering feel. We preferred to shift for ourselves in this mode because the transmission tuning felt overaggressive; it kicked hard while upshifting and downshifting around town or on the highway. It also didn’t feel very intelligent when we used Sport mode on the track and on our test route, as it tended to avoid downshifting. Manual shifting largely solves this problem, and the paddles have a nice feel as an added benefit. In all, the Supra 2.0 is engaging if road conditions are right, but when everything isn’t ideal there are enough small issues to at times lead to frustration.

Liveability, Practicality, and Features

The 2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 uses a Toyotafied version of BMW’s iDrive system, but to get the most out of the infotainment system, which includes an 8.8-inch touchscreen, you must upgrade to the Safety and Technology package. Doing so, which costs a hefty $3,485, adds wireless Apple CarPlay (but no Android Auto). It also upgrades the sound system to a 12-speaker premium JBL setup. Navigation gets bundled with this package along with Toyota’s Supra Connected Services, which includes real-time traffic monitoring, stolen-vehicle tracking, and remote services. It also buffs up the Supra’s suite of safety tech, adding active driver assist systems including adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and full parking sensors with emergency braking functionality. There’s enough equipment in the Safety and Technology package that most buyers will likely want to check this box when they purchase their GR Supra 2.0; the car would feel pretty decontented without it.

Still, the 2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 has some crucial standard equipment that makes it a smidge nicer than the average Toyota. Keyless entry and ignition come equipped on every model, as do LED automatic leveling headlights, LED daytime running lights, and LED taillights. Other standard safety equipment includes pre-collision avoidance with pedestrian detection and lane departure warning with steering assist. The car also has heated mirrors—but no heated seats. For a vehicle with a starting price of just over $44,000, it’s a light loadout of equipment.

The hatchback liftgate goes a long way in making the Supra a daily-driving option. Its trunk is deep and wide and can swallow a good number of groceries or even small furniture items. An external button for opening the trunk is absent, however, and it can be annoying to have to pull out the key to open the hatch. The Supra also has long, thick doors that make it tough to enter and exit the car in medium-sized and smaller parking spaces. This Toyota has eye-catching looks, but it also has some of the inconvenience typically associated with driving a supercar, not a moderately priced sports car.

Is It Worth It?

As tested, this 2021 Toyota GT Supra 2.0’s MSRP was $47,745, which is within striking range of a Supra 3.0 at $52,565. It put down some impressive performance numbers for a car with the base engine, but the overall driving experience isn’t as refined and doesn’t feel as special as you get with the more potent Supra. The numb steering and frenetic suspension tuning are negatives within what is an otherwise entertaining drive. That said, this is one of the most unique designs at this price point, and only the most knowledgeable car dorks know the difference between the 2.0 and 3.0 models. In all, the 2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 is a solid attempt at a driver’s car. It simply falls short of greatness due to its lack of balance and refinement. We recommend sticking with the more powerful version.

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