When the fifth generation Toyota Supra debuted last year, it hit the US market with a single powertrain option: a turbocharged three-liter inline-six with 335 horsepower paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. At the time, Toyota repeatedly said it had no plans to bring a four-cylinder version to the U.S. But times change, and now we’re getting that option for the 2021 model year along with a big boost in power for the inline-six variant.
While the Supra shares its engine with the BMW Z4, it did not receive the most powerful spec at launch. The US-spec Z4 M40i had nearly 50 more horsepower than the Supra. Now the Supra is getting upgrades that bring an increase to 382 horsepower and 368 pound feet of torque a nearly identical match for the Z4 M40i.
Upgrades to the engine are accomplished by going to a new dual-branch exhaust manifold with six ports instead of two along with a new piston design that reduces the compression ratio from 11:1 to 10.2:1. That likely allows them to run more boost. The compression ratio, horsepower figure, and dual-branch manifold are a match for the B58B3001 version of the three-liter found in the BMW M340i, the possible source of the Supra's upgraded engine.
Peak power for the Supra is available from 5,800 to 6,500 rpm with peak torque available from 1,800 to 5,000 rpm. These figures are also a match for the BMW M340i. Toyota states that the updated engine will retain its “eagerness to rev” while producing more torque at a higher rpm. Toyota projects that the Supra 0-60 time of 4.1 seconds should drop to 3.9 with the more powerful variant of the engine.
Toyota also decided to retune the suspension in order to increase roll resistance and enhance cornering ability. They added lightweight aluminum braces to tie the strut tower to the radiator support up front along with adding updated bump stops and retuning the dampers. Adding the strut braces takes a page from the aftermarket, as some owners have already made the change on their own. Easy because the aluminum strut braces from the Z4 bolt right on.
The ZF 8-speed 8HP automatic transmission is retained as the only option on the top trim Supra, and most of the other changes appear to be minimal as the curb weight only increases from 3,397 pounds to 3,400 pounds.
In addition to the power upgrades, there will also be a new limited edition. Dubbed the A91, it will be offered in a similar manner to the first year Launch Edition. Toyota plans to offer 1,000 examples of the A91 which will be available in either “Nocturnal” (black) or “Refraction” (blue), with “Refraction” being the edition's exclusive color. Along with the special color, the A91 will feature a carbon fiber lip spoiler, matte black wheels, c-pillar graphics, and carbon fiber mirror caps. It will also have an exclusive black Alcantara leather-trimmed interior with blue contrast trim along with “key gloves” and trunk mat. The “key gloves” sound like pouches to protect the key fob, I guess.
We dug up information that pointed to a four-cylinder Supra in 2018. But once the launch came around, Toyota told us that they didn’t have any plans to bring it to the US. The 2021 model year reverses that decision.
The new entry-level version of the Supra produces 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque from its two-liter engine, matching the base variants that have been offered in Europe and Japan. Peak power is available from 5,000 to 6,500 rpm while peak torque goes from 1,550 to 4,400 rpm. Like its bigger brother, the 4-cylinder also features a twin-scroll turbocharger as well direct injection and variable valve timing.
While those that have been clamoring for a cheaper or lighter weight variant of the Supra will get their wish with new model, those that have been asking for a clutch pedal will be disappointed. The four-cylinder version will also only be offered with the ZF 8-speed automatic. Toyota says that the smaller engine will offer better fuel economy, but will be around a second slower to 60, hitting that mark in around five seconds.
Weight for the base car comes in at 3,181 pounds–219 pounds lighter than the six-cylinder version–and while much of that is accomplished with the smaller engine mass, weight is also saved in other components. For example, the front brakes feature rotors that are 18 millimeters smaller in diameter and 12 millimeters smaller in width. The base car also skips the electronic differential and adaptive suspension for a traditional mechanical setup. Further weight loss comes from the interior with a switch from power seats to manual seats and the removal of six speakers. Since these changes are spread out around the car, the Supra still maintains the 50:50 weight distribution of the higher powered model.
In addition to the power upgrades and the introduction of the two-liter model, Toyota will also be offering a Safety and Technology package. This package includes safety features like radar cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and parking sensors with emergency braking. In addition to the safety features the package will also add some entertainment features such as navigation, a 12-speaker 500-watt JBL audio system, and wireless Apple Carplay compatibility. The package is rounded out with “Supra Connected Services” which offers remote maintenance, automatic emergency calling, real time traffic, concierge, vehicle recovery, and map updates.
Higher trim variants of the Supra such as the 3.0 Premium and A91 will also have an available “Driver’s Assist Package” that will allow them to get some of the safety features separately. This package will include radar cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and parking sensors with emergency braking functionality.
While some will be disappointed that the base trim Supra was not announced with a manual, there is some salvation in the fact that the two-liter models shouldn’t be as hard to convert to manual using BMW 3-series parts. Tada-san, the Supra's chief engineer, also told us this was the variant to perform a 2JZ swap on. Toyota has not announced pricing, but we expect it to start in the low $40,000 range.
In addition to street cars, the Supra GT4 race car will go on sale in the US starting in August. The race car is developed and built by Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) and based on the street car. The three-liter inline-six has been tuned to produce 430 horsepower and is backed up by a seven-speed paddle shifted automatic that sends power through a mechanical limited-slip differential to the rear wheels.
Part of that power increase comes from an Akrapovič exhaust system which should make for some good noises, but it is likely that we’ll see it in various states of tune due to Balance of Performance (BoP) regulations that are used in most series that accept the GT4 class of race cars.
The race cars get safety upgrades like a roll cage, FIA-spec seat, and six-point harness but still drops over 400 pounds from the street car with an overall weight of 2,976 pounds. In addition to the safety equipment, the interior receives a carbon fiber instrument panel along with a GT4-spec steering wheel. Aero upgrades come in the form of a front splitter and rear wing made of a natural fiber composite. Suspension upgrades include KW dampers at the front and rear.
Enthusiasts are sure to be pleased that there are now more variants of the Supra along with more power, though early Supra adopters are likely wondering why the 2020 version didn't get the more powerful version of the car.