We all knew tuners would be coming for the A90 Toyota Supra. Litchfield was one of the first to have a go cranking more grunt out of the car’s BMW-sourced powertrain, and its first car took the stock output from 335 to over 400. And there’s more to come once its ECU has been properly mapped.
(Full Disclosure: When I found out Litchfield was planning to fettle the Supra I asked if I could have a whirl toward the end of 2019. I was told “yes” so went to drive it. The lovely images you see before you were provided by Litchfield.)
Litchfield has been tuning cars for years and is most famous for its work with the Nissan GT-R. Ask Litchfield nicely and you’ll get yourself 1,000 HP and a big, silly grin on your face. Still, when the new Supra came out, the team was quick to act. Being first past the post counts for a lot these days.
This was one of the first tuned new-gen Supras in the world. Originally mooted in mid-2019, the Litchfield Supra package was set to come with at least 440 HP and 450 lb-ft of torque, as well as a host of upgraded parts to ensure it’ll kick as much ass as possible.
The car available for testing here was an early production car sourced by Litchfield and given a power bump to “at least” 490 HP with just a Stage One tune and a modified exhaust. The car itself wasn’t with Litchfield any more though, rather with ECU cracking specialists EcuTek, who bought the car in order to do what it does best: Break into the ECU and create engine map software for tuners all over the world to play with.
EcuTek’s specialty is also GT-Rs, but the new Supra proved an interesting opportunity for the firm. Once EcuTek has finished its work, the possibilities with the A90 Supra will broaden in a big way as firms like Litchfield (and others) will be able to push it to its very limits. And, probably, beyond.
Other than its Litchfield power bump, it’s a standard car. No trick springs or dampers, no bigger turbo or jazzy cooling systems. It’s a 3.0-liter turbocharged straight-six with some extra grunt, gently dipping its toe into a rapidly deepening pond.
As an early salvo to the world of A90 Supra tuning, it’s not a bad start. Its 3.0-liter motor has been tuned from 335 HP and 365 lb-ft of torque to 490 HP and 472 lb-ft, while its 0-62 mph (100 kph) time is claimed to be comfortably below the stock 4.3 seconds and its top speed is yet to be tested.
For the setup driven here, you’d only need to sling Litchfield $800 for the tune and $468 [accurate at time of writing] for the pipes. Seems damn reasonable if the performance gain claims are to be believed!
It’s useable. The standard powertrain is pretty easy to live with. Smooth and quick when you need it to be. Give it a dollop of extra power and it retains its smoothness. So much so that pretty much anyone could drive it around town without any problems at all.
More power means more noise. The start-up burble is pleasing, the cracks, pops, and bangs in sport mode are hilarious fun. Keep it standard you’ll get a hint at its anti-socialness, but in Sport mode, it’s frankly rude. The best kind of rude at that.
Standard mechanicals means the car can get a little ahead of itself. In a typically damp UK, pressing on with a sense of urgency, in lower gears the rear tires would try and step out of line. While that would be utterly hilarious on track, on the road you remain grateful for the traction control stepping in and doing its thing.
Much like anything with big power you need to respect the Supra’s limits, but without the rest of the “make go fast” bits that Litchfield offers you may find yourself overwhelmed.
After an initial burble on startup, the Supra calms itself down and is a most pleasant thing to drive. Thanks to its ludicrous quantities of torque you can leave its eight-speed ’box in auto mode and it’ll waft you along quickly and quietly.
Seeing as the mechanicals and dimensions are the same as the standard car, you can see well enough out of it (though its rear window is teeny tiny), its massive wing mirrors are certainly up to the job of showing you what’s behind you, and its trunk is big enough for 99 percent of the stuff the owner of a two-seater would possibly need.
All the things you know and love from BMWs are present and correct: iDrive, intuitive controls, the works. Here is not the time or place to have the “it’s not a Toyota/yes it is” argument, but the BMW bits sure do what they’re supposed to.
OK, you need to watch its huge wheels on high curbs, and maybe take a bit more care of its long nose than you would a regular car... but despite its huge power it’s a good way to travel. Long story short, it’s good at being “a car.”
Your first task after leaving civilization in Litchfield’s latest is to press the Sport button, find a straight bit of road and play with the throttle. Keep it in second and give it half pedal. Slow down and then give it three quarters. Then try it at full chat. Those last two will trouble the traction control something rotten, especially if it’s a bit soggy out.
See, that Sport button sets the car up to be a little angrier. Its gearbox shifts with a sporty jolt, the power’s throw out of the rear with extra gusto. You know the Supra’s a quick car from the off, but this amount of power is something else. There’s nearly as much grunt in there as a 911 GT3. Which is a silly amount of power anyway, but throw turbo torque in there and it’s breathtakingly quick. If it doesn’t help you create a few new swear words... well, we’d all be a bit surprised.
Sport is a truly joyous place to be. The eight-speed ZF ’box becomes an addictive thing to play with. Quick flicks up and down become the order of the day because they coax out the noise. On the day to day it’s a fairly quiet thing, ok it lets out more burbles than your average shopping car, but it’s not in your face. When you’re on it, it gets all up in there. Bassy, raspy, angry, brilliant. And you get pops and bangs and all the good stuff on overrun, which just adds to its charm.
In the state available, the Litchfield Supra comes with only the power upgrade - not the upcoming strut brace, bespoke springs, or tweaked caster bush it can come with. This means that the power seems as though it could quite comfortably overwhelm it in the wrong hands. With all of the potential set up on board, this thing will be a weapon and a half. That said, if you’ve got the right hands it’s still a blast on the road. On track, in its current state, well... that would mean lots and lots of drifting. Excellent.
At $800 to get this kind of power boost, the price seems great. Now, once EcuTek has freed up the ECU and shown the world’s tuners how to get the best out of it, there’ll be more options to play with. However, Litchfield has years of high profile, high-performance pedigree behind them.
The potential of the A90 Supra is yet to be fully tapped. Litchfield has made a hell of a good start with its opening gambit to the game. 490 HP is not to be sniffed at, and driven sensibly it’s delivered smoothly. From the off, this can be your sole car if you want it to be. And once you’re done driving sensibly around town you can play with some big league stuff without having to invest anywhere near as much cash. Of course, once newer tunes are available, Litchfield (and others) will be able to play with your motor to your heart’s content. The days of the 1000 HP Supra may well be upon us again, only this time with a Bavarian heart.