Toyota is already giving the A90 Supra significant updates

Supra sales are not great. Toyota sold just 2,884 of them in 2019, fewer than the number of 86es in same year (3,398). That’s not a good sign for a halo cars like the Supra, whose sales curves usually start out strong and diminish as time goes on. With Toyota’s announcement yesterday that it would jack up the power of the six-cylinder Supra and introduce a 4-cylinder model less than a year into the launch, it seems like the company is hoping to attract more interest.

The 2021 Supra now gets 382 horsepower and 368 lb-ft of torque, up from the 2020 model’s 335 horsepower and 365 lb-ft. Toyota says that the power comes from a new dual-branch exhaust manifold with six ports instead of two, as well as new pistons that reduce the compression ration from 11:1 to 10.2:1.

You may notice that this new figure just happens to be exactly the output of its platform twin, the BMW Z4 M40i. Independent test from magazines like Car & Driver have long suspected that Toyota was purposefully reporting lower numbers than what the turbo inline-six was actually making. Whether this is a case of not wanting to upstage your more expensive cousin, only the flies on the walls in Munich will know.

The 2021 Supra also comes with a revised chassis. New aluminum braces from the strut towers to the radiator support increase lateral rigidity, and just about every electronic system has been re-tweaked as well — steering, adaptive suspension, stability control, and the active diff.

More curious, though, is the new four-cylinder model. The 2.0-liter version has been sold elsewhere in the world, but now the US is getting the 255-horsepower, 298 lb-ft variant, still mated to an 8-speed automatic.

When we spoke to the Supra’s chief engineer Tetsuya Tada at the A90’s launch, he was adamant that one of the main reasons to go with a BMW platform and powertrain was the fact that his revered mentor, Ichiro Suzuki, known as the Michael Jordan of chief engineers and the man who spearheaded the A80 Supra and original Lexus LS among many others, told Tada-san that a sports car must always have an inline-six. Now, this is a statement from Toyota’s actual press release:

The 2020 GR Supra broke from the model’s traditions in several areas, and the 2021 version seems to do it again with the first-ever four-cylinder turbo model. Or does it? The new Supra 2.0 becomes the entry model, returning a two-tier performance lineup that parallels the A70 and A80 Supra models.

We suppose that this means the four-cylinder is equivalent to the naturally aspirated versions of the classic Supras (though both still had straight-sixes). There’s another name for a four-cylinder Supra, at least in the US: Celica. But let’s not revive any more beloved nameplates for rebadging.

The 2021 Supra also comes with a limited edition version called the A91 Edition, denoted by a black edge on the spoiler, some C-pillar graphics that look like a Day Two add-on for a kaido racer, and matte black wheels. Only 1,000 of them will be made, in either black or a new A91 exclusive blue called Refraction (pictured).

Last year, Toyota allocated 1,500 Supras for a limited Launch Edition, In hindsight, that was an optimistic number, as it was more than half the total number of Supras sold in 2019. Will the updates help? We shall see when the 2021 Supras hit dealers in June.

Images courtesy of Toyota

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20 Responses to Toyota is already giving the A90 Supra significant updates

  1. Steven said:

    Hmmmm… I wonder how many more they could have sold if they offered it with a three-pedal M/T…

    Oh, and I suspect those $25k “market adjustments” by the dealers didn’t help things either.

  2. Kieron said:

    Sure I saw the Supra with a 3SGTE in race form in some classes. Not ever sold like that but not new for a Supra to have a 4pot.

  3. BlitzPig said:

    They should revise that hideous rear styling while they are at it.

    Really, it’s awful.

  4. Negishi no Keibajo said:

    As a average Joe on the street, I think they need a little more visibility for the model. After all, halo models are supposed to get people in the door. Kind of like “Race on Sunday, sell on Monday”. Nothing pops out at me in public about the model right now like the buzz around the new Miata when it came out… but then I’m just average Joe.

    • BlitzPig said:

      I blame Toyota’s North American dealers for this. Go into any of them anywhere in the US and they will try as hard as possible to put you into an SUV or a Camry. they don’t know how to sell enthusiast cars, and frankly don’t care to as the gravy for them is in their boring cars for boring people.

      • pete240z said:

        I stopped this week at the Chicago Auto Show and was in the Nissan booth talking to a factory rep and I asked when/what the plans are on the next Z car and how Nissan is a bit long in redesigning the Z and Frontier. He was all about the Altima and how many of those they are selling…….I told him Nissan is selling Buicks and he didn’t get it.

        Next booth? Veloster N.

      • Negishi no Keibajo said:

        I also think it’s a difficult environment when you drive down the street & you see the same megadealer controlling every imaginable marque: Joe Toyota, Joe Nissan, Joe Buick, Joe Chevrolet, Joe Lincoln, Joe Nissan. They probably are all in on the very same sales conference call every week. Joe just wants cash. He cares less about marques.

  5. Billy1 said:

    Full blame goes to the dealers who were dicking people around!! I tried to buy one when they came out and the local dealer was “MSRP +$20k. Take it or leave it”

    I guess you can figure what I did.

  6. Erik said:

    Toyota screws up with the A90 but is hitting grand slams with the GR Yaris(only if they bring it here).

    It’s almost like enthusiasts want a fun, powerful & affordable RWD car. Which is not something that Toyota currently offers. Now, imagine a 255hp & 299ftlb BRZ86(sounds like fun) call it a Celica GTS & bam, license to print money.

  7. Shaiyan said:

    The ZN6 should have been called the Celica from the start imo
    the name means more to a lot of American audiences vs “86”, whose name only became relevant again because of Drift King and some kid delivering tofu in one

    • speedie said:

      I disagree. The Celica even when it was rear wheel drive never had the sports car vibe like the BRZ/FR-S/86 does. Also Toyota dropped the Celica line because it had become synonymous with being a nice daily commuter car and sales worldwide were dropping. Not the image you want for a sports car. I think it was smart to call it a new name and start a new association.

  8. speedie said:

    The real test for the Supra will be how it sells in its second year after all the “I have to be the first” and YouTube buyers have paid their markup premiums. I never bought into the car dealers don’t know how to sell it theory. Someone who wants a Supra (or any sports car) goes to the dealer with intent. The dealer does not need to sell them on it. There is a very limited market and lots of competition for expensive sports cars in today’s market. I suspect the Supra may be a one generation car in its current iteration.

  9. The Diplodocus said:

    Toyota needs to just make a manual, I have not heard form a single person that does not want a manual transmission. Also, the BMW 4 cylinder they’re putting in is well known for having catastrophic mechanical issues from oil leaks to timing chains so the joke is on the 4 cylinder buyer.

  10. GeorgeL said:

    Toyota can thank greedy dealers for tanking sales of the Supra. Most people are smart enough to wait for the hype to die down and pricing to adjust to normal as supply catches up with demand.

  11. Atticus said:

    Maybe next time they’ll think twice before selling cars for BMW…

  12. ACSK said:

    I don’t really see it helping. Those changes weren’t what Supra lovers wanted in the first place. Weren’t most people complaining about BMW engines and lack of manual transmissions?

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