It’s a horrible fate to be loaned a car for somewhat less than five days that you really, really want to drive for an eternity. The most recent suspect is the 2021 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Premium coupe, which was evaluated during the Mopar//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway outside Indianapolis.
That Labor Day meeting started with pickup at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, and included a blast down to Indy that included nosebleed speeds and waves, hollers from other drivers who likely wanted to exchange their daily drivers for this Renaissance Red on black leather beauty. Can’t blame them.
The body lines of the 2021 GR Supra scream performance in a practical manner. All the ducts, indentations, air extractions are purposeful. And rather than screaming “this is a hot car” the Supra ends that discussion by simply performing superbly in every way.
With its BMW Z4-derived 3-liter inline twin-scroll single turbocharged, directly-injected engine that emits 382 horsepower between 5,800 and 6,500 rpm, 368 lb-ft of torque at 1,800-5,000 rpm and with a stout 6,500 rpm redline, as evidenced by the tachometer set prominently in front of the driver – the speedometer is digital and lies to the left of the tach – the Supra can be as docile or as deadly as the driver wants it to be. The tower-braced engine compartment shows Toyota prepped this Supra to be an active participant in every drive.
An eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters enables an involved driver to make moves quickly and efficiently, while MacPherson struts and multilink adaptive, variable sport suspensions keep the Supra planted beautifully to the road. A sport-calibrated rack and pinion electric power steering system allows a tidy 34.1-ft turning circle. Ventilated Brembo brakes front and rear do the job handily. Toyota fits Michelin Pilot SuperSport rubber of 255/35ZR front and 275/35ZR rear mounted on twinned five-spoke 19-inch black/polished alloy rims. One needs to be careful not to scrape the undercarriage on steep drives as ground clearance is a scant 4.7 inches.
This rear-wheel-drive, 3400-pound coupe is a drop-dead beauty outside and in the spare but well-appointed cabin. There are courtesy lights at the doors and hatch, windows dip and return to create an excellent seal. Both driver and passenger have full power (14 settings) for their exceptionally comfortable and fully supportive seats, and the driver has dual memories, should there be a second capable driver available. This is a double-bubble coupe for the taller creatures among us.
Toyota ensures this cabin is meant for two enthusiasts in its decor and in its placement of relevant controls, including a head-up display. Everything is accentuated to the driver, starting with the gauge cluster and its prominent tachometer; fuel and temperature gauges flank either side of the gauge cluster. The steering wheel offers cruise control on the left, while the right side covers audio and phone controls. A central placement for the phone allows wireless charging and wireless Apple CarPlay.
There is a welcome for the driver on the 8.8-inch touchscreen at start-up and that command center offers media, communication menus, map and navigation. There’s a 12-volt plug and USB near the phone’s charging platform – and the digital screen always reminds the driver to take the phone upon exiting the Supra. This driver loved the carbon fiber accents throughout the cabin and the fact that, even with the car’s engine off, the music plays on for a minute or so. Love the seats, love the 12-speaker JBL audio system with its amplifier, the SiriusXM and the touchpad rotary control for all functions.
None of this goodness comes cheaply – it shouldn’t – and Toyota has given the 2021 GR Supra 3.0 Premium a list price of $55,485 including freight. There was a single option called the “driver assist package” that included full-speed dynamic radar cruise control, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, parking sensors with emergency braking function ($1195) that gave this gorgeous little red rocket a list price of $56,680.
Checking out the Sport driving mode meant tighter steering, extended shifts and a far more eloquent exhaust note from the double pipes. Not really meant for freeway driving, sport is at its best on back roads and in town when it’s intended to intimidate all who might think this car’s a poser. It’s not. Mileage is good from the 13.7-gallon tank; the Supra requires premium fuel to feed its glorious engine and we achieved the 22/30/25-mpg cited, even with bouts near the engine’s redline. Toyota does have an engine-stop function for this car at stop lights. It’s barely noticeable but keeps mileage civil.
As this was a work trip, the 10.2 cubic-foot hatch area – which is covered for safety’s sake – was used to keep the suitcase and backpack away from those who might want to take them. And you might notice the location of the photos of this vehicle – Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Lucas Oil Raceway (for the interior shots on a rainy Saturday) – as the driver spent evenings and mornings at the Speedway where a friend offered a place to stay across the street.
So if you like your Toyota with an Austrian accent (final assembly plant is Graz, Austria), don’t mind a Supra that lets you know when you’re over the speed limit with red flashing lights on the dash and head-up display and also lets you know when you’re drafting – or following too closely – then this would be the sports car you desire. After putting nearly 500 miles on this beautiful red coupe in less than a week, I’m hooked.
story and photos by Anne Proffit