Can it take on Germany’s finest mid-engined sports car?

The 2020 Toyota Supra made its highly anticipated debut at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. While some were anxious to meet the BMW-based coupe, most die-hard enthusiasts weren’t pleased that the successor to the iconic fourth-gen Supra doesn’t have pure Japanese engineering. Now that all the commotion is over, it’s time to see how the Supra compares to its rivals. Now that the coupe is smaller, it’s well-suited to take on the Porsche 718 Cayman. Let’s find out if it stands a chance.

Exterior

The fact that these cars are radically different when it comes to drivetrain layout impacts the way they look. However, it’s safe to say that both have sporty front ends that will look menacing in your rear-view mirror.

Front

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The 718 Cayman is wide and low, a feature enhanced by its relatively thin bumper section, wide and flat intakes, and slim daytime running lights. The carved-in front hood and the heavily slanted windscreen add to the sporty, race-inspired look.

Although it's pretty menacing when seen from the front, the Supra is notably different, mostly because of its taller front fascia.

The grand tourer sits a bit higher from the ground, but it also has a taller bumper with bigger vents. Fortunately, the three-piece intake layout in the bumper and the slender headlamps with lower LED bars that extend toward the nose make the fascia seem wider than it really is. The engine hood looks rather dull though.

Side

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It’s here where you’ll notice that the Supra and Cayman are entirely different cars.

Due to its mid-ship layout, the Cayman has a shorter nose compared to the Supra.

The Japanese coupe has its engine in the front, so the hood is longer, with a few good inches between the front wheels and the doors.

The two cars are pretty similar below the beltline and between the wheels. But while the Supra’s door ends where the rear wheel arch begins, the Cayman has a few extra inches to make room for the engine inside and cooling vents on the outside. The Supra has side vents as well, but they’re placed on the doors and more importantly, they’re fake.

The rear fenders have a similar arch toward the back, but the roof lines are again different. First, the Supra has smaller side windows and angular quarter windows, whereas the Cayman’s are larger and rounder. The Porsche also features a simple roof that descends smoothly toward the rear, while the Supra sports a double bubble roof design. The roof also extends a bit more toward the rear, ending in an aggressive decklid spoiler that points up almost vertically. By contrast, the Cayman has a much smaller aero element.

Rear

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Around back, the Supra takes the prize for the sportier design. The big spoiler, the aggressive taillights, and the race-inspired diffuser with dual exhaust pipes and the F1-inspired center brake light place it in a league of its own. By contrast, the Cayman boasts a clean, almost minimalist design. The diffuser is far from spectacular aside from the center-mounted exhaust, but the thin bar with "Porsche" lettering between the taillights gives the rear fascia a wide stance. It’s simple but classy, reminding me of lightweight sports and race cars from the past.

Dimensions

2020 Toyota Supra vs 2019 Porsche 718 Cayman Exterior
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Somewhat surprisingly, the Supra is just as small as the Porsche Cayman

Although initial predictions suggested that the Supra Mk. V will be a full-fledged successor to the iconic fourth-generation car, Toyota went with a much smaller car. Somewhat surprisingly, it’s just as small as the Porsche Cayman.

At 172.5 inches long, the Supra is only 0.1 inches longer than the Cayman. It’s two inches wider than the German coupe at 73 inches, but this doesn’t change much. They also have similar heights and wheelbases, with marginal differences you can find in the table below.

2020 Toyota Supra vs 2019 Porsche 718 Cayman High Resolution Exterior
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They’re also very similar as far as track widths go. The Supra is 0.2 wider in the front at 62.8 inches, while the Cayman is 0.7 inches wider in the rear at 60.3 inches.

All told, while Supra fans didn’t get a grand tourer and a proper successor to the previous-generation car, Toyota build itself a full-fledged competitor for the Porsche 718 Cayman. I’m not yet sure whether this was a smart move or not.

Toyota Supra Porsche 718 Cayman
Wheelbase 97.2 in. 97.4 in.
Overall Length 172.5 in. 172.4 in.
Overall Width 73.0 in. 70.9 in.
Overall Height 50.9 in. 51.0 in.
Track Width Front 62.8 in. 59.6 in.
Track Width Rear 62.6 in. 60.3 in.
Curb Weight 3,397 lbs. 2,944 lbs.

Interior

2020 Toyota Supra Interior
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Just like Porsche, Toyota adopted a clean dashboard with a driver-oriented layout

Based on the current market, you can’t expect a Toyota to be able to compete with a Porsche in terms of cabin features and technology. However, the Supra is a little special, as Toyota placed it in the premium market. An expected move given the nameplate’s popularity and the Supra rather expensive sticker.

Granted, the entry-level car lacks the soft-touch surfaces of the Cayman and the more expensive trim still includes some hard plastic, but the Supra is no Corolla. And the design is cool too. Just like Porsche, Toyota adopted a clean dashboard with a driver-oriented layout and a cool separation wall between the driver compartment and the center console. It looks surprisingly sporty for a car with a "Toyota" badge. And although the Cayman boasts better craftsmanship, I have to admit that the dashboard and the center stack look a bit dated. The latter also includes too many buttons compared to other 2019-model-year sports cars.

Technology

2020 Toyota Supra Interior
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The Supra also comes standard with a few cool premium features, like keyless smart entry and a rear camera

Toyota also sports the larger and more modern infotainment display, but that’s only because the current Cayman is almost six years old. Porsche calls the 2016 upgrade a new-generation car, but changes to the interior were minimal. The good news is that Porsche finally added smartphone connectivity through Apple CarPlay and voice-controlled navigation, but both are optional.

This is available for the Supra as well though, as the base model doesn’t include the larger 8.8-inch infotainment screen, navigation, the rotary touch controller, telematics, and Apple CarPlay. To get them you have to pay extra for the 3.0 Premium trim. The good news is that this version also comes with wireless phone charging, which isn’t even available in the Cayman, and a 12-speaker JBL audio system.

2020 Toyota Supra vs 2019 Porsche 718 Cayman High Resolution Interior
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The Supra also comes standard with a few cool premium features, like keyless smart entry, dual automatic climate control, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rear camera, rain sensor windshield wipers, garage door opener, and power folding mirrors.

Both cars have sports seats and sporty steering wheels, so you will feel at home on race track no matter what you choose.

Passenger Space and Trunk

2020 Toyota Supra vs 2019 Porsche 718 Cayman High Resolution Interior
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The Cayman offers a total of 14.9 cubic feet of luggage space, which isn’t bad for a sports cars

Unfortunately, neither Toyota or Porsche offer information on passenger room, but based on the size of both cars it’s safe to assume they are similar. So don’t expect them to be as comfortable as a sedan. You’ll have enough room to feel comfortable during short trips, but don’t expect to travel in style for many consecutive hours. Both cars should also be comfortable enough for high-speed sessions on the race track.

As far as trunk room goes, Toyota didn’t release figures but said that the trunk is big enough for a weekend getaway for two people. This probably translates into space for two small bags. The Cayman offers similar space, but it’s split into two distinct areas. You get 5.2 cubic feet of room under the front lid and 9.7 cubic feet in the rear luggage compartment. That’s a total of 14.9 cubic feet, which isn’t bad for a sports cars.

Drivetrain & Performance

2020 Toyota Supra Exterior
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The Supra comes with 335 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque on tap

Unlike its predecessors, the fifth-generation Toyota Supra rides on BMW underpinnings. The coupe was developed in partnership with the German firm and shares its platform and engines with the Z4 roadster. Toyota offers two engines, a four-cylinder and a six-cylinder, both borrowed from the Z4, but only the latter is available in the U.S.

The turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline-six, a unit offered in almost every BMW, generates 335 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque in the Supra.

The 718 Cayman is available with two engines, both turbocharged four-cylinders, but in a flat-four design. The base model comes with a 2.0-liter powerplant that cranks out 300 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. That’s a 35-horsepower and 85-pound-foot deficit compared to the Supra, but you can opt for the larger, 2.5-liter four-pot in the Cayman S. This engine delivers a more appealing 350 horsepower and 309 pound-feet. That 15 horses more than the Supra, but it still misses 56 pound-feet.

2020 Toyota Supra vs 2019 Porsche 718 Cayman
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The Cayman S delivers a more appealing 350 horsepower and 309 pound-feet

While the Supra is equipped with an eight-speed automatic with no option for a manual, the Cayman can be specced with both row-your-own or automatic gearboxes. You can pick between a six-speed manual or a PDK. This is a big advantage for enthusiasts who like the three-pedal layout, but I’m going to compare the Supra to the PDK-equipped Cayman from here on.

Performance-wise, the Supra is quite the appealing sports car, as it needs only 4.1 seconds to hit 60 mph from a standing start. That’s notably quicker than the Cayman, which reaches the same benchmark in 4.7 seconds, or 4.5 clicks with the Sport Chrono package. However, the Cayman S comes closer with 4.2-second sprint and even surpasses the Supra with the Sport Chrono package, which decreases the benchmark to four seconds flat.

2020 Toyota Supra vs 2019 Porsche 718 Cayman Exterior
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While the Cayman S is only marginally quicker than the Supra, it wins the top speed battle by a big margin

While the Cayman is only marginally quicker than the Supra in top trim, it wins the top speed battle by a big margin. The Japanese coupe manages 155 mph, while the 718 Cayman hits 170 mph. The Cayman S model is even faster, going up to 177 mph.

Both cars have sporty setups for their chassis components, including race-proved elements based on race cars made by Porsche and Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s motorsport division. The Supra is supposed to be a lot more dynamic than other Toyota’s, but the Cayman is probably the slightly better option for track days.

Toyota Supra Porsche Cayman Porsche Cayman S
Engine 3.0-liter twin-scroll turbo six 2.0- liter Turbocharged boxer 4 2.0- liter Turbocharged boxer 4
Horsepower 335 HP 300 HP @ 6,500 RPM 350 HP @ 6,500 RPM
Torque 365 LB-FT 280 LF-FT @ 1,950-4,500 RPM 309 LB-FT @ 1,900-4,500 RPM
Transmission 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters six-speed manual/PDK six-speed manual/PDK
0 to 60 mph 4.1 seconds 4.9 seconds (manual) / 4.7 seconds (PDK) 4.4 seconds (manual) / 4.2 seconds (PDK)
Top Speed 155 mph 170 mph 177 mph

Final Thoughts

2020 Toyota Supra vs 2019 Porsche 718 Cayman Exterior
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Picking between the two is mostly a matter of what you really want in a sports car

I wish I could say that this is a comparison between a traditional, iconic nameplate and a smaller Porsche 911 with the engine in the right place. But I can’t, mostly because the new Supra is a massive departure from the fourth-generation model. Not because it’s smaller, but because it no longer features Japanese engineering. This pretty much cancels most of the Supra’s heritage and gives the Cayman a fighting chance.

The issue with the new Supra is that it’s no longer a grand tourer. Sure, sports coupes are cool too, but it’s very difficult to win against a mid-engined sports car with a "Porsche" badge. Yes, it’s powerful and yes, it’s only marginally slower than the base model, but it’s also heavier and will probably have a difficult time keeping up with the Cayman on the race track.

Picking between the two is mostly a matter of what you really want in a sports car. If it’s pure performance and track capability you’re after, the Cayman is the better choice. The Supra, on the other hand, will offer you better day-to-day usability. The Supra’s big advantage is in the pricing department. Priced from $49,990, it costs almost $20,000 less than the Cayman S that offers similar performance. The base Cayman, however, isn’t all that expensive, coming in at $56,900. But this means paying an extra $7,000 for a car that’s almost a half-second slower.

Further reading

2020 Toyota Supra vs 2019 Porsche 718 Cayman Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2020 Toyota Supra.

2020 Toyota Supra vs 2019 Porsche 718 Cayman High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Porsche 718 Cayman.

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