A few days ago, I, and I alone, broke the story that the new Toyota Supra I had been driving didn’t actually smell like a new Toyota. It might be the most important story of my near-decade-long career in automotive journalism, and no, I did not get the idea after taking one of the brightly colored pills that Jason Torchinsky handed me on my first day. Why do you ask?
Anyway, where were we? Oh yeah, the Supra. Turns out, I really enjoyed driving it, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make myself care that it’s more BMW than Toyota. Ultimately, I’m just thankful it exists at all.
Granted, that’s partly because I actually fit inside comfortably. I’m not exactly the slender gentleman I was before the pandemic, I’m still 5'10" and far from broad. Automakers design cars for people like me. If I had thicker thighs, I might be able to save lives, but it’s also entirely possible I would have found the Supra a lot less comfortable.
As it was, I fit just fine and also found the Supra relatively easy to get in and out of. At least as long as the car parked next to me wasn’t parked too close. Even with no back seat to worry about, those are some long doors.
But most importantly, I truly enjoyed driving it. Especially in the custom sport mode that lets you leave the suspension in its most comfortable setting. Not to beat a dead horse here, but I live in Detroit, and the roads are bumpy. Enjoying a sports car isn’t easy.
Whether I was on yet another Target run, actually trying to have fun, or cruising to the airport, the best way to sum up the Supra is that I liked it. I had fun. The pops and crackles from the exhaust, the aggressive downshifts from the transmission, and all that low-end torque made even a quick trip to the grocery store feel a little more special than it would have otherwise.
Flooring it in the cold on cold tires might not have been the smartest idea. After all, reduced grip + tons of torque + rear-wheel drive = a car that really wants to go sideways. But I never felt like the Supra was getting out of control, and straightening out was always easy enough.
Granted, I didn’t get to test the Supra in every possible condition. I didn’t take it on a 1,000-mile road trip or really push the limits on the track. So don’t think of this as a full review. (Toyota, if you’re reading this, let’s figure out a way to make that happen. Please? Pretty please?)
And arguably, a lot of the BMW-ness makes the new Supra a better car than it probably would have been. The interior is almost entirely devoid of piano black plastic aside from one piece on the door. In this day and age, that alone is something worth celebrating. The cabin also feels much higher quality than other Toyotas I’ve driven. And as you might expect, the turbocharged inline-six is a delight.
Obviously, there are some downsides. The lack of Android Auto support was annoying for me, an Android user. And if you already hate the styling, I don’t think you’ll ever come around. But at least Toyota took a chance here. It’s a car people are going to have strong opinions on. A youth, for example, stopped me in the parking lot to shout, “Nice whip, bro! That hits so hard!”
Finally, there’s the lack of a manual transmission. I’m far from a manual purist, and I get that it’s hard for companies to justify the development cost for a car they already know they won’t sell many of. But something about the Supra made it feel like it needed a manual, and I would very much like Toyota to take my feelings into consideration when it develops cars.
Maybe that’ll happen in the future. Toyota, can you please make that happen in the future?
I understand why people wanted the new Supra to be something Toyota developed entirely on its own. I get why people want to fight about it. It’s the kind of thing you yell about with family over Thanksgiving dinner (Hey! Timely reference!), but considering how much I enjoyed driving the Supra over the last week, I really cannot find it in myself to care.
Just be thankful Toyota brought it back and didn’t turn it into an EV.