Here’s why the GR86 is a better Japanese sports car than the GR Supraby Dim Angelov, on
By now, it’s painfully obvious that Toyota isn’t interested in reliving the glorious 1990s. Back in those days, they had the SW20 MR-2/MR-S, the Celica GT-Four and SS3, and let’s not forget the venerable Supra Mk IV. However, sports cars cost a lot to develop and their market niche is insignificant compared to something like a Corolla. You can see why, nowadays, Toyota has two front-engine rear-wheel-drive sports cars and both of which are not pure Toyota products – the GR Supra and GR86. The latter, though, is more worthy of the Toyota badge and here’s why.
Toyota actually developed a lot of the GR86
Granted the GR86 is a joint project with Subaru. The Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ twins are both assembled at Subaru’s plant in Gumma. Yes, a lot of it is Subaru, but it makes sense for Toyota to have access to Subaru hardware, considering Toyota owns 20 percent of Subaru.
Moreover, Toyota has been involved in all the decision-making surrounding the GR86/BRZ.
Yes, the engine is a flat-four, now with 2.4 liters of displacement, but the fuel injection system is still a Toyota D-4S unit, like in the previous generation.
The GR Supra on the other hand is simply a BMW Z-4 with a different body. The platform, the engine and gearbox, and even some of the interior are all BMW Z4. That said, we are being assured that Toyota engineers have done their own tests on the B58 engine and have enhanced its durability.
More bang for the buck?
Comparing most aspects of these cars may seem like comparing apples to oranges, but we cannot neglect that price is a key decision-making factor for many when it comes to buying a new car.
The GR86 will come out at the end of 2021 and is expected to have a starting price of $31,000. Given the GR86’s 228-horsepower figure, this translates to $136 per horsepower.
The GR Supra on the other hand starts at $43,090. This gets you the B48 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four with 258 horsepower, which equates to $167 per horsepower. Granted, the GR86 lacks the Supra’s toque that comes with turbocharging – 184 pound-feet (249 Nm) vs 295 pound-feet (400 Nm).
Strangely enough, the 3.0-liter version of the Supra that puts out 382 horsepower and 368 pound-feet (499 Nm), offers more bang for the buck than its 2.0-liter counterpart, with $133 per horsepower. However, its $51,090 price tag makes it two-thirds more expensive than the GR86.
The Toyota GR86 is all Japanese
There’s hardly anyone who doesn’t know that Subaru is a Japanese brand and that BMW is German. Both the GR86 and GR Supra are joint projects.
The difference is that the GR86 was co-developed with Subaru – a fellow Japanese carmaker, partially owned by Toyota, while the GR Supra is basically a redesigned BMW Z4 with a bespoke chassis setup.
It better represents Japanese motoring
Cars from every nation have their distinctive features. Think of it as automotive stereotypes. For example, American cars are fast in a straight line, German cars are autobahn missiles, and Japanese cars are light and nimble. If you look beyond the Supra’s busy aesthetics, you’ll see that, just like all new BMWs, it’s a tech-fest. And although the capable chassis and a short wheelbase it’s quite competent on a more technical course, it would feel equally at home on the autobahn, doing over 155 mph (250 km/h).
The GR86 on the other hand is all about going back to the basics. It’s light on its “feet”, simplistic, and gives a more unadulterated driving experience. It will not be as capable on the autobahn as the Supra, but it can provide an unforgettable experience, carving through a canyon or a mountain pass.
It has a manual!
One of the (many) things people didn’t like about the GR Supra was that it was offered with only one transmission option. Granted, the ZF eight-speed automatic is a great gearbox. There’s a reason it’s used in so many different cars, but one of the reasons many people buy a sports car is because of the more involving driving experience. Something that is inevitably taken away from you, once a third pedal is missing.
The GR86 on the other hand can be had with one of the most satisfying to use six-speed manual units. It’s part of that visceral feel that you’re supposed to get from a light sports car. Of course, there is a six-speed automated manual as well, although why you would go for it, on a car like this, is beyond me.
It has back seats
It’s barely even worth mentioning, as no one buys a sports car for its practicality, but the GR86 has rear seats, while the GR Supra doesn’t. Granted, they are far from being the most usable, but you can (sort of) fit people in the back, for short distances. That said, there is a good chance they won’t want to talk to you again after that. Trust me, I know. Probably the best way to utilize the space behind the front seats is as an additional luggage compartment.
The GR86 is a better spiritual successor
The whole idea of the Toyota 86 and the GR86 after it was to be a modern-day successor to the 1980s Toyota Corolla AE86. And just like the AE86, the GR86 is a lightweight, nimble, not particularly powerful, fun sports car.
The Toyota GR Supra had some pretty big shoes to fill, as the well-known Mk IV Supra is still a very sought-after car and a tuner’s wet dream, because of its over-engineered 2JZ engine, capable of massive horsepower figures. Although the new car retained the same front-engine rear-wheel-drive layout and still featured a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six, Toyota simply took someone else’s hardware, did its own tweaks, designed its own body, and slapped the Supra logo on it.
Without a doubt, the GR Supra is a capable performer, but the GR86 is a more faithful representation of what made Toyota sports car of the past so enjoyable.