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