Toyota’s performance halo gets flogged, then coddled

There’s no shortage of hype and controversy when it comes to the 2020 Toyota Supra. The return of this iconic nameplate has divided enthusiasts and sparked a firestorm of opinions, with some heralding its return, and others deriding its Bavarian influences. But putting all that aside, the most important question remains unanswered - what’s it like to drive? To answer that, Toyota flew me out to Virginia, where I was given the opportunity to see what the A90 Supra can do on the track, and how it handles the street. This is what happened.

The 2020 Toyota Supra On The Track

Quick Info On The Track

Driving the 2020 Toyota Supra On the Track and the Street
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To help demonstrate the A90 Supra’s on-track prowess, Toyota rented out the Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia. The track layout was slightly abbreviated by cutting out the highly banked “Karussel” section, but the track was still technical and challenging, offering a variety of corners that incorporated both positive and negative camber, decreasing and increasing radii, and numerous elevation changes.

Many of the corners were also blind, and much of the track surface was quite bumpy.

Most of the configuration was tight and winding, but there were a few sections that allowed the Supra to stretch its legs a bit.

All told, the track would provide an excellent opportunity to test the Supra’s handling and power delivery, and a quick time would require trust in the suspension and chassis.

The Experience Behind The Wheel

https://youtu.be/wcGtSxdCbIs

My driving experience with the 2020 Toyota Supra started with a quick on-track lead/follow session to help me get acquainted with the track layout, and I was immediately impressed by the Supra’s BMW-sourced B58 engine.

Under the hood, you’ll find a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder boosted by a single twin-scroll turbocharger. Peak output is rated at 335 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 365 pound-feet of torque at 1,600 rpm.

Driving the 2020 Toyota Supra On the Track and the Street
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My first thought was that this is one “meaty” engine. The torque curve is nice and fat, hitting your backside at a very low rpm.

There’s nothing peaky about it at all - the delivery is smooth and refined, which makes throttle modulation a breeze.

After three laps of lead/follow, Toyota opened the track for free lapping, so I grabbed the first available seat, configured all the proper electronic settings, and went for it.

Driving the 2020 Toyota Supra On the Track and the Street
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With the Supra fully unleashed, the B58 engine impressed me even more. This thing is definitely not hurting for power. Sixty mph arrives in 4.1 seconds, making the A90 the quickest Toyota ever produced. Top speed is electronically limited at 155 mph, but without the nanny, we think 175 mph is within reason.

The only transmission option is an eight-speed automatic from ZF. This transmission is ubiquitous in the industry, and can be found in a wide variety of performance models, including the Alfa Romeo Giulia, Aston Martin DB11, Jaguar F-Type, Lamborghini Urus, and Maserati Quattroporte, among many, many others.

Driving the 2020 Toyota Supra On the Track and the Street
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No surprise then that the 8HP is a very solid automatic, and the way it’s tuned in the 2020 Supra does well to complement the coupe’s performance.

In manual mode, the transmission will hold a high rpm rather than automatically upshift, which is what you want on the track. The shift times are on par with a double-clutch system, so it’s plenty quick too.

That said, I did occasionally hit the headlight stalk behind the steering wheel when going for the downshift paddle under heavy braking, flashing the headlights rather than grabbing a lower gear. That’s mostly a user error thing, though - with repeated laps, I got into a good rhythm with it.

And one more thing - while the 8HP is good, I still found myself wanting a manual transmission. Badly. This car deserves a manual transmission. Three pedals would provide an immediate connection to the drivetrain that you just can’t get with any slushbox, and for a car so laser-focused on driver enjoyment, this really is a head-scratching omission.

2020 Toyota Supra engine specifications
Engine turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder
Horsepower 335 hp at 5,000 rpm
Torque 365 lb-ft at 1,600 rpm
0-60 mph 4.1 seconds
Top Speed (electronically limited) 155 mph
Top Speed (no limiter) 175 mph (est.)
Transmission eight-speed automatic
Driving the 2020 Toyota Supra On the Track and the Street
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The eight-speed automatic feeds the rear wheels through an active electronic rear differential, which comes as standard equipment across the line. This unit distributes torque with locking that varies from 0 to 100 percent, and it provides loads of grip. On track, I could really feel it working to put down the power, scrambling across the bumpy surface as I laid into the throttle on exit.

The suspension also did good work on the less-than-ideal track surface.

Up front, the Supra gets a double-joint type MacPherson strut setup, while in back is a multi-link setup with a five-arm configuration. Adaptive dampers are standard across the line, and provided superb feedback under braking, mid-corner, and on exit.

The steering also felt quite good, with the electric variable ratio offering extra weight while in sport mode. The leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel was grippy and contoured nicely to my hands.

Driving the 2020 Toyota Supra On the Track and the Street
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Hauling it down was a set of ventilated disc brakes matched to Brembo calipers, with four-pots in front and single-pots in the rear. Disc sizing measures in at a sizable 13.7 inches in front and 13.6 inches in the rear. Trail braking was a breeze, and despite repeated hard stops, fade was minimal.

The standard 19-inch forged aluminum wheels are measured at 9-inches wide in front and 10-inches wide in the rear, while tire sizing is set at 255/35R19 in front and 275/35R19 in the rear. Providing the stick is Michelin’s Pilot Super Sport compound, which is standard rubber for numerous sports cars these days. You can find Pilot Super Sports on everything from Ferraris to Porsches, and yes, on BMWs as well.

Despite the staggered tire sizing, the 2020 Toyota Supra feels extremely neutral.

Typically, skinny front tires make for terminal understeer, but Toyota did a fantastic job getting the Supra absolutely dialed.

2020 Toyota Supra Suspension And Drivetrain
Differential: active electronic rear differential
Suspension: double-joint type MacPherson strut in front, multi-link setup five-arm in rear
Dampers: adaptive
Steering: electric, variable ratio
Brakes: ventilated discs, Brembo four-pot calipers with 13.7-inch discs in front, single-pot calipers with 13.6-inch discs in rear
Tires: Michelin Pilot Super Sport, 255/35R19 in front, 275/35R19 in rear
Driving the 2020 Toyota Supra On the Track and the Street
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As I wrote previously, the 2020 Toyota Supra is surprisingly small in person. The wheelbase is just 97.2 inches in length, which is a full 4 inches shorter than the diminutive Toyota 86.

However, to achieve an ideal wheelbase-to-track width ratio (as determined by Toyota’s extensive history in motorsport), the Supra is also quite wide, stretching 62.8 inches and 62.6 inches front and rear, respectively. That’s an extra 3 inches and 2 inches compared to the 86’s track width, respectively.

It’s interesting that the rear track is slightly narrower than the front. Usually, it’s the other way around.

However, with the wider rear tires, the narrower rear track width most likely helps to dial out the understeer.
Driving the 2020 Toyota Supra On the Track and the Street
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Further handling enhancements are found under the skin, where the Supra offers a platform that’s several times more rigid than that of the 86. It’s obvious that torsional rigidity was a major focus for the development team - the ultra-wide side sills are testament to that, as is the way in which the suspension works to keep the thing glued to the road.

The 2020 Toyota Supra tips that scales at just under 3,400 pounds, or 3,397 pounds to be exact. The center of gravity is also lower than that of the 86. While 3,400 pounds is towards the lighter end of the spectrum for sports cars these days, the Supra actually manages to feel even lighter than its spec sheet would suggest.

2020 Toyota supra vs competition - exterior dimensions
2020 Toyota Supra 2019 Porsche 718 Cayman 2019 Chevrolet Corvette
Wheelbase: 97.2 inches 97.4 inches 106.7 inches
Overall Length: 172.5 inches 173 inches 180 inches
Overall Width: 73 inches 71 inches 77 inches
Overall Height: 50.9 inches 51 inches 49 inches
Track Width (front): 62.8 inches 60.1 inches 63.6 inches
Track Width (rear): 62.6 inches 60.6 inches 62.5 inches
Driving the 2020 Toyota Supra On the Track and the Street
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Inside the cabin, I found the highly bolstered sport seats to be very supportive of my on-track shenanigans. The optional heads-up display was also useful for providing quick info on the fly, while the giant tachometer in the middle of the 8.8-inch color LCD gauge cluster was crisp and clear. The active exhaust system sounded great in sport mode, crackling and popping whenever I eased off the throttle.

All told, I found the 2020 Toyota Supra to be very easy to drive very fast.

It’s similar to the Toyota 86 in that regard - it’s easy to get up to speed, and hammering it around a circuit is very rewarding. If you screw up, no worries - it’s easy to get it back in line, with a forgiving, predictable personality that just begs you to drive it harder and harder.

Finally, it has to be mentioned that Toyota will include a membership to the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) with the purchase of a new Supra. We think that’s a fantastic thing to do, and we wish more manufacturers would consider something similar with their respective sports cars. Because anyone who doesn’t put the Supra on a racetrack is missing out on a lot of what this car has to offer, and NASA is a surefire way to get that experience.

The 2020 Toyota Supra On The Street

Where I Drove It

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After countless laps at the Summit Point Motorsports Park under my belt, it was time to drive the 2020 Toyota Supra back to the hotel. The drive took about an hour to complete, and consisted of both winding country two-lanes and some time on the highway as well.

While the highway was smooth and flat, the two-lanes were choppy and uneven, with water and dirt spilling onto the road at regular intervals, making for a good test of the Supra’s street manners.

The Experience Behind The Wheel

Driving the 2020 Toyota Supra On the Track and the Street
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Out on the road, the 2020 Toyota Supra’s six-cylinder engine provides plenty of low-end torque for passing. Just dig into the throttle, and whatever is in front of you will quickly disappear into your rearview mirror.

And like I said before, this engine sounds great. It’s deep and sonorous, whirring high into the rpm range with a straight-six sound that’ll have you stabbing the throttle just for the hell of it. Put it in sports mode, and a flap opens up to make it even louder. Snap off the go pedal, and it’ll backfire in rapid succession with the staccato punctuation of a machine gun.

Sure, all the popping and banging is a bit juvenile on the street, but you don’t have to push the button. That said, I know anyone reading this right now definitely will be pushing that button.

Driving the 2020 Toyota Supra On the Track and the Street
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Out on the narrow country two-lanes, the short wheelbase felt a little nervous at times, especially over rougher sections of pavement.

However, the adaptive suspension still did a good job soaking up the bumps, and while it didn’t have the floating, heavy feel of a GT car, the Supra’s ride still provided plenty of comfort for a die-hard performer.

Driving the 2020 Toyota Supra On the Track and the Street
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The same goes for the seats. The tight bolsters worked wonders on the track, but could occasionally feel a little confined on the street. Still, I found the balance between support and comfort to be about right for the segment.

The low seating position could occasionally make visibility a little difficult, but compared to rivals like the Chevy Corvette, I’d rate visibility as above average. The rear backup camera helped while reversing, and I never had difficulty maneuvering in tight spaces. I also liked how the Supra’s ultra-wide rear hips were clearly visible in the sideview mirrors.

Driving the 2020 Toyota Supra On the Track and the Street
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One thing I didn’t like at all was the shifter on the central tunnel, the operation of which was anything but intuitive and easy.

With several buttons and a weird shift pattern, selecting the right drive mode was a chore at best.

I also didn’t like some of the driver assists, especially the lane-keep system, which I found to be pretty intrusive at times. Luckily, these can be turned off, if desired.

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I have to level one final critique at the infotainment system, which was difficult to navigate and a bit finicky. Luckily, the multi-information screen behind the wheel and the touchscreen on the dash provided clear readouts, which made navigating the convoluted menus a bit less strenuous. What’s more, Toyota is finally offering Apple CarPlay, and although I had difficulty connecting it to my ancient 5c iPhone, newer devices should have no problem.

Final Thoughts

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The 2020 Toyota Supra is a fantastic sports car.

This thing is absolutely at home on the track, seeking out apexes with the agility and poise of a sci-fi robot ninja. The word “balanced” kept creeping into my head - balance for the chassis, balance for the suspension, balance for the power delivery. The engine is a peach, and the suspension works in concert with the electronic diff to yield maximum grip no matter the surface. The eight-speed automatic is quick and pairs well with the 3.0-liter ‘six under the hood, but I still want a third pedal.

On the street, the Supra is well-behaved, soaking up bumps without killing your backside. While I wouldn’t necessarily want to spend more than three or four hours driving it without a break, it’s still surprisingly comfortable for a performance-focused sports car.

While the Porsche 718 Cayman offers laser-sharp mid-engine rotation and the Chevrolet Corvette provides heavy artillery-style performance, I’d take the Supra over both. It really is that good.

Further Reading

Driving the 2020 Toyota Supra On the Track and the Street
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Read our full driven review on the 2020 Toyota Supra.

2020 Toyota Supra Exterior
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Read our review of the 2020 Toyota Supra

2020 Toyota Supra Exterior
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How Much BMW DNA Can Be Found In The 2020 Toyota Supra?

2020 Toyota Supra Exterior
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14 Little-Know Facts About The 2020 Toyota Supra A90

Driving the 2020 Toyota Supra On the Track and the Street
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The 2020 Toyota Supra Is Surprisingly Small In Person

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