Around The Bay Auto Weekend Wheels

Weekend Wheels: Toyota’s new Supra coupe is sports car nirvana

Luxury Living Tampa Bay

Here’s a Trivial Pursuit teaser for you: Name the world’s fastest-accelerating rollercoaster ride? 

If you said Japan’s Do-Dodonpa, in the shadow of Mount Fuji, give yourself a piece of Christmas candy. This masterpiece of bodily torture uses compressed air to catapult thrill-seekers from nothing to 112mph in, wait for it, 1.56 seconds. 

That’s faster than a Formula 1 racecar. Faster than a spooked cheetah. Quicker, even, than a New York bag-snatcher.

And while you’re being hurled at the horizon and your eyeballs squeezed into the rear of your cranium, you’re subjected to an insane 3.3g of force, which is more than Neil Armstrong experienced at lift-off. 

No, Toyota’s joyous new Supra can’t accelerate anywhere close to that. But when you tap the “Sport” button, mash the throttle, and feel the thrust of its turbo’d straight-six engine, you’ll be whooping and a-hollering just like a Do-Dodonpa rider. 

Ooooh, this thing is fun. 

But first the Cliffs Notes. What you have here is actually a Zupra, with a Z. Toyota took the unusual step of partnering with BMW while the German company was developing its next-generation Z4 convertible.

It means the two cars share greasy bits, like engine, chassis, suspension, and brakes. They’re even screwed together on the same assembly line in Graz, Austria. 

It makes sense. Sales of enthusiast sports cars these days are only slightly better than those of Christmas tree ornaments on December 26. So by sharing costs, both Toyota and BMW could offer shiny new models without breaking the bank.

Of course, diehard Toyota enthusiasts, who revere Supras of old, were in an uproar. A Toyota with a BMW engine? Noooo. But if it ensures there actually is a new Supra you can buy, what’s the problem, I ask?

What matters here is that this new rocketship coupe is just a fabulous car to drive. Quite possibly the most fun car I’ve driven in 2019. It’s fast, nimble, agile, responsive, beautifully built, a joy to live with and, to my eyes, great-looking. 

All for $50,000, or $55,000 loaded to roof. Slap a big bow on it, sprinkle some tinsel, and it would make a terrific Christmas stocking-stuffer. 

See it in the metal and from the front it kinda looks like Darth Vader on wheels. That domed-shaped clamshell hood, those swept-back lights with their blades of LEDs. And those massive haunches over the rear wheels? Very bold. 

Power comes from a version of BMW’s turbine-smooth turbocharged 3.0-liter in-line six. In the Supra it cranks out 335-horsepower and 365 lb-ft of torque. Mated to the always-awesome ZF eight-speed automatic, it can punch the Toyota from zero-to-60mph in an impressive 3.8 seconds.

But mere numbers don’t come close to capturing the thrill of driving this new super-coupe. There’s tons of low-speed muscle for swift passing, or slingshot acceleration out of Interstate on-ramps. And it’s all accompanied by a symphony of snap, crackle and pop from the exhaust.

Blast it along a twisty back road, and the combo of laser-precise steering, a 50-50 weight balance, grippy 19-inch rubber and huge brakes delivers a grin-inducing sports car thrill-ride.

Inside, most of the key components are shared with the Z4, including the 14-way adjustable super-huggy bucket seats , the high-quality leather, the instruments and the controls. 

And it’s a lovely cabin, with good interior space, impressive headroom and terrific fit and finish. It’s practical, too, with a reasonable-sized trunk under that high-lifting tailgate. 

OK, taller drivers might whack their head getting in and out, courtesy of that swoopy roofline. Visibility, especially the rear three-quarter, can make lane-changing a challenge. And all the fake vents in the hood, doors and nose are a little cheesy. But I would own this car in a heartbeat. 

Santa, are you listening?

Test drive the new 2020 Supra at Toyota of Tampa Bay, Stadium Toyota Tampa, Clearwater Toyota, AutoNation Toyota Pinellas Park, Courtesy Toyota of Brandon, or Wesley Chapel Toyota. 

 

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