It’s a car where the sound alone makes you find excuses to go for a drive.

On the track, I thought the Supra fell short of its goal to be a Cayman-killer. The steering is direct and with a good amount of feel here, and body roll—if there was any—is barely noticeable. Tada says the chassis overall is twice as stiff as the 86, and “almost better” than the Lexus LFA.

It’s an extremely sharp handler, one eager to get sideways. The Supra’s extreme neutrality in corners lets you find its limit easily and without surprises. It feels lighter than its weight would imply, and never feels cumbersome the way an F-Type does. To boot, it feels smaller than a Mustang or even a Corvette, though that long hood gets in the way more than, say, a BRZ’s would. (Stay tuned for a direct comparison between Toyota’s two sports cars.)

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But it lacks the tightness that the Cayman has, the directness, the ability to change direction on a dime as if controlled by thought alone. And in the end, even with a 50/50 weight distribution it cannot overcome the inherent advantages of a true mid-engine layout.

Still, laps at Summit Point proved that while it’s got an accessible level of performance, it’s not what I would call a novice performance car on track. Thanks to its speed alone you can get into trouble into this thing if you want. It’s not for total idiots or beginners. While I can’t say it’s the best handling car I’ve ever driven or anything truly groundbreaking in that department, it is extremely good at what it does, and will provide a rewarding and challenging experience for owners.

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I had the most fun when I was storming the backroads around Summit Point. Granted, part of this media drive was in Virginia, where I was watching my ass about 10 times more than normal because I have zero desire to go back inside, but on the West Virginia rural-road side of things the car was just an absolute blast.

I had a moment where (and I may or may have had some Eurobeat blasting over the Bluetooth, I decline to say on the record) I shot out of a corner at highway speeds with the Supra tucked in neatly and the exhaust note cracking all around me where I said, out loud, “I love driving this thing.”

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I had a feeling I’d like the new Supra, if only because I feel BMW guts are a good thing and I’d just be happy it existed. But I did not expect to have that kind of reaction.

About That Lack Of A Manual

There was another thing I said, audibly, just a few moments earlier than that: “I really wish this thing had a stick.”

I was hoping that wouldn’t be the case, because honestly, I find the “no manual, no care” thing to be an utterly boring point of criticism. Plenty of modern cars don’t have traditional manual transmissions and offer a thrilling experience. I can’t say I’ve missed it on any DSG-equipped Volkswagen GTI, PDK-equipped Porsche, Cadillac CTS-V or BMW M5 I’ve driven.

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But something is just different when you’re talking about a small, agile, two-seat sports car. In this one, I found myself actually reaching for a clutch that wasn’t there, a shifter that wasn’t there. I don’t do that often. The absence was noticeable here.

Don’t get me wrong, my praise for the very good ZF8 stands. It’s a superb automatic. It’s fast and smooth, offering quick paddle shifts without the day-to-day annoyances you sometimes get from a dual-clutch gearbox. And on the track, most of the time I was content to leave it in full automatic mode, because it is smarter than I am.

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Not having a stick shift at all feels out of character here, especially when you can get one on the BMW Z4 (though just not in America.) Its omission is perhaps the most glaring flaw I found in an otherwise surprising, rewarding machine.

Will we ever get a stick on the Supra? I brought it up with Tada, who laughed and, through an interpreter, told me something to the effect of “start a petition,” probably because he’s tired of hearing this question. That’s pointless, so I won’t, but I will say that in a car made from controversial decisions, this is one I can’t get behind.


I do not think the missing manual is an instant deal-killer, though. If I were a prospective Supra buyer, I could live without the manual. And in fact the Supra is a pretty solid deal.

The new Supra comes in three trims: the base GR Supra 3.0, starting at $49,990; the GR Supra 3.0 Premium at $53,990; and the GR Supra 3.0 Launch with the red interior and mirror caps at $55,250. The last one is limited to 1,500 units only. (Worth noting: it’s cheaper than the last Supra was. In 1996 a Supra Turbo started at $50,600, which would be about $82,000 in today’s dollars.)

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Expect dealer markups to be nuts at first because they always are, but these cars come very well-equipped. The only real options are the Driver Assist Package and the 12-speaker JBL Audio system, and those are both standard on the upper two trims. That’s it! Every Supra will pretty much list under $60,000. They’re not nickel-and-diming you to death here the way Porsche does with every option (or, in some cases, every lack of option.) While it isn’t cheap, for everything you get here, the Supra feels worthy of its price.

It’s already a better value than the base or V6 F-Type, and, considering that a base Boxster or Cayman are pretty much impossible to find out in the wild in the $50,000 range, it’s a strong competitor out of the gate. I even found it more fun than the F-Type SVR, if only because the Supra’s some 400 pounds lighter despite being less powerful. It’s also nearly $14,000 cheaper starting than a six-cylinder Z4.

I suppose its biggest challenger might be BMW’s own M2 Competition, or even a Mustang GT350, although the latter is a very different car than this one. A Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is a better all-around performance value and it can be had with a stick, but I’m not sure how many people will really cross-shop the two.

At the very least, we need more fun, fast sports cars, not fewer, and the new Supra is a compelling additional choice in that world.

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Early Verdict

No, this is not the Supra we expected. It doesn’t have a Toyota platform, or a Lexus platform, or a twin-turbo V6 or a V8. It doesn’t have a six-figure price tag like a Nissan GT-R. It doesn’t replace the 86 as some bargain basement sports car, either.

After driving it, finally, I can conclusively say none of those things are bad things. The new Supra is good. I’m glad it exists at last. I’m glad it is real. But no matter how fun it was, I think it’s an F-Type-killer, but not a Cayman-killer.

At least, not yet. If you ask Tada, this is just the beginning.

“This is not the end of the Supra,” he told us over dinner when our track day was completed. “This is the beginning. That might include variations. Please consider this the foundation of the Supra, the first step.” He was coy as to whether that meant more power or a stick or something even more extreme.

I’m eager to find out, just like I was when I was 16, tearing through those car magazines in search of something I hoped would be real someday.

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