Toyota dropped two big stories last week in regards to its fifth generation Supra. First, they revealed a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged model will hit dealerships later this year; and second, the existing 3.0-liter will receive a major update that bumps power from 335hp to 382hp, as well as improving torque at higher rpm. There are a few other small changes which include suspension and ECU tweaks, but it's a bit too premature to really comment on that, considering no one has driven the car yet. But what I did get a chance to do yesterday was witness the unveiling firsthand at Daytona International Speedway as the new 2021 Supras made their first public showing. I've saved all my four-banger comments for another article, but in this story I've compiled as many photos of the 3.0 and A91 Edition on display, as well as offered some critique since I'm more passionate about the latest Supra news since I'm an A90 Launch Edition owner already.
Chassis Code Confusion: Is it an A90 or A91?
In yesterday's official press release, it wasn't clearly stated that all 2021 models will be referred to as A91s. Originally, many of us thought the special edition only would be called the A91, but in fact, it will be all of 'em. Does this mean the 2022 model will be called A92, 2023 model A23, and so on? It's going to become quite cumbersome, but it looks to be this way for now
Power Increase: Did Toyota hold back last year?
I'm still dumbfounded how Toyota could have made such a significant power increase in less than a year. Many of us knew the Supra was dynoing at a much higher number than what Toyota claimed, but less than a year later they've already increased horsepower by 14 percent. I can't recall any manufacturer improving on power similarly in such a short time period. I likely feel agitated because I am an A90 owner and snatched up a 2020 Launch Edition last August. Should I have waited? Will the value of the 2020 models depreciate faster?
After chatting with representatives from Toyota's product planning and engineering teams, the power increase as well as the revisions in suspension tuning and electronics follows a long-term game plan of ensuring the new Supra has a long lifespan. According to Toyota, they didn't want sales and hype to do well in just the first couple of years. They have plans to make incremental, if not significant, improvements year after year as well as continue to offer special edition models. And although I haven't driven the revised 3.0, I'm reassured it's not a night and day difference in acceleration, but just enough to give it noticeable more oomph higher in the rev range. No need to abandon ship yet
One more thing about the power increase; while Toyota couldn't comment on it, the power increase brings the Supra up to what the BMW Z4 spec was, and according to some of my industry insiders, the B58 engine should virtually share all the same hardware now as the M340i. This means the new pistons and exhaust manifold Toyota is talking about are most likely BMW parts bin already sitting on the shelf, except now just being made standard across the board.
Biggest Demand: Where the hell is the manual transmission?
While you're all begging and pleading for a manual transmission, it doesn't look like it's going to happen anytime in the near future (although European Auto Group in Texas is offering the conversion if you want to drop some coin). It's not that Toyota isn't listening, because I heard from both management and engineering, they know very well the tens of thousands of people asking. The multi-million-dollar question is how many of these keyboard warriors are legitimate buyers of the Supra, and who they buy it even if it were more expensive or the performance was compromised? Have these people driven the current Supra with its eight-speed ZF automatic?
Supra chief engineer Tetsuya Tada addressed my question head-on, and he explained that he's actually tested various manual gearboxes on the Supra already. Yes, it's not that they didn't consider it, but they've put it through testing! At the end of all the research, the truth was in front of everyone. Today's automatic transmissions are so technologically advanced and faster, that reverting to a manual would be a step back for the advancement of the Supra. In their testing and through testimonials by pro drivers, the manual would perform worse and also disrupt the overall dynamics of the car.
Tada-san goes on to give examples that companies like Porsche are selling less and less manual-equipped cars year after year, and even the new C8 Corvette won't be offered in a manual. Tada-san also mentioned to me that back in the days of the Mk4 Supra, the automatics were inferior back then, but if they had the technology and strength of the automatic transmissions back then as we do today, it would've been a different story already. So, in closing, continue to voice your opinion, but don't hold your breath.
Brembo brakes but not the badging we expected
In the 3.0 Premium and A91 Edition, you'll notice the four-piston front calipers now have the Toyota Supra logo on them. Definitely a nice touch, considering the 2020 models were left blank, almost as if they were generic calipers. What I don't get is why you wouldn't just stamp Brembo on them, since Brembo is such a trusted brand and product by performance enthusiasts around the world? And it's not like we don't know Brembo didn't make the calipers either
Wheels options needed
Those two-tone spoked wheels remain an eye sore, unless you step up to the A91 Edition which get the same all matte black like the 2020 Launch Edition. I'm really surprised they just didn't drop the half-and-half wheels for the black ones everybody loves. But perhaps it's time for new wheel design. Shouldn't be harder than adding almost 50hp, right?
Still can't roll down my windows
The first thing I noticed driving home from the dealer in my 2020 Supra was the inherent noise, "wind buffeting" as some folks call it, when the windows are down. It's like that sound you get when you have the sunroof open and the windows all the way up. That's how the Supra is just cruising down the street. Apparently, Toyota only really took notice of this issue after the car went on sale because everyone was either driving at maximum force on the track or with the windows up during city driving. This issue has yet to be fixed and I am patiently waiting.
Subs gotta go
A small gripe, but I'd like to see Toyota eliminate the ugly dual subwoofer enclosure in the trunk that carries a certain '90s Wings West Civic vibe with it. The bass from the JBL Premium isn't even that great, so ditching the two subs for better components in the doors or a hidden sub in the trunk would be a cleaner and better option.
A91 Edition: Is it really special?
The only thing that I really like about the A91 Edition is that stunning blue color. It reuses the Launch Edition wheels and the carbon mirror caps look to be the same ones from the TRD catalog - can't knock those two additions. What grinds my gears is that rear lip spoiler, supposedly carbon-fiber but has been painted matte to match the black accents on the car like the side skirts, rear diffuser, etc. I'm a firm believer in leaving good-looking carbon parts carbon. Lastly, what's going on with those stickers on the rear pillars? It looks super cheap and almost an afterthought. OEMs should not be putting on stickers/vinyl anyway and promoting it as a style update!