Introduction: A nervous first dance
Kirby meets an old flame; tries not to get burnt during the introduction
- Price as tested: $85,036
- This month: 397km @ 9.1L/100km
I have an odd relationship with the Toyota Supra. I’m a massive fan of the JDM icon, but the first time I drove one it bit me, hard.
You see, as a uni student I had a mate, Keeley, who was renowned for owning powerful modified cars – like a MkIV Supra aerotop that deployed nearly 600kW to tortured rear tyres.
Keeley threw me the keys to his pride and joy at a local track cruise as a birthday gift. But, foolishly, on my ‘warm up’ lap I planted the throttle only to experience an aeon of turbo lag.
When the volleyball-sized turbo finally did spool up, the tyres were as hapless as a watermelon hit by an anvil, and my unprepared and overconfident ass became a mere passenger as the car veered off-track.
No damage was done, and the friendship remained intact. Thick black skid marks that turn hard left into the dusty infield of Queensland Raceway is all that remains as a monument to my foolishness.
Now, with another decade of driving sensibility drilled into my brain, I find myself standing in front of another Supra. This time it’s the reborn MkV Supra GR in base GT guise, ‘mine’ for three months.
Priced at $84,536, the GT is $10K cheaper than the flagship GTS and, by my logic, the smarter choice.
You aren’t missing ten grand’s worth of performance, with both variants fitted with the same 250kW/500Nm tune from the BMW-sourced B58 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six.
The only option fitted to our long-termer is premium paint at $500. Dubbed ‘Goodwood Grey’ (all the Supra’s colours are named after iconic race tracks), the hue pops nicely in the sun.
Each corner is kept up by 18-inch wheels (down from 19s on the GTS) wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber (255/40 up front and 275/40 at the rear).
My cheaper variant does without a head-up display, larger rear brakes, the 12-speaker JBL sound system, and the ability to option certain seat trims. Fair trade, by my calculations.
A sports car deserves a proper introduction, so I mapped out 148km of my personal favourite driving roads to start the relationship.
Before I departed, I received a message that brought that original Supra encounter front of mind. It was Dep Ed Enright, who cautioned that on certain weight transfers, the Supra’s rear end can get particularly squirrelly.
Then I recalled during COTY testing when the Supra ripped a skid that could have earned it an automatic entry to Summernats with launch control still engaged.
In the name of preserving of Toyota’s sculpted metalwork, and my career, a ten-tenths blast straight out of the gate wasn’t going to happen.
I needn’t have worried, as the Supra and I gelled instantly. Both driver and car relished the flowing, cambered corners of Gembrook-Launching Place road. It was here that I quickly learned of the Supra’s eager turn-in, the nose flowing into bends smoothly thanks to a wonderfully planted front-end.
Then came Reefton Spur and a switch to sport mode. Here I was educated on the eight-speed automatic’s whip-crisp upshifts. Toyota deliberately opted for shorter gearing with the Supra, making it well-suited to this tight and twisting route.
Past Lake Mountain, we descended toward Marysville with the windows down. If it’s an auditory delight you’re after, the Supra delivers. The exhaust’s pops and crackles are joined by whistles and hisses from the turbocharger in a fascinating mechanical duet.
My love affair with this Japanese icon was well and truly reignited. Lockdown restrictions have so far scuppered a repeat trip. Yet, just as when Keeley passed me the keys to his aerotop, the MkV Supra fills me with an ‘I can’t believe I’m driving this’ wonder every time I slip into the cockpit.
My lockdown comes with a rapid silver lining – I’ll be keeping it on the black-top this time around.
Update #2: An unlikely hero
Despite the Supra having its wings temporarily clipped, Kirby finds it still soars
- This month: 254km @ 11.3L/100km
Of everything I thought I’d be assessing on a regular basis, the Supra’s suitability as a grocery getter wasn’t high up the priority list.
Yes, sports cars must be enjoyable beyond the butter-smooth bitumen and swooping curves of your favourite driving road, but boot apertures and carrying capacities aren’t really their forte.
With Victoria’s strict lockdown measures, the Supra has been mostly grounded at Kirby HQ this month. But that doesn’t mean it has been completely immobile; my partner has to merely begin the sentence “Honey, I think we are out of mi...” and I’ve got the keys in hand.
With a claimed capacity of 290 litres, there’s a surprising amount of room for luggage in the Supra, and even my biggest trips are yet to completely fill the cargo space.
The B58 engine remains as much a pearler around town as it is in the hills, with a fantastic dual character. It’ll happily burble along at a couple thousand revs without any fuss or lurching.
I’m also thankful for the traditional torque-converter automatic, as the low-speed driveability of the Supra is all the better for it. Around town, it slips between ratios subtly, aided by the straight-six’s silky-smooth nature.
I have grown to appreciate the Supra’s diminutive stature. With an overall length of 4381mm, the Supra is shorter than both the Hyundai i30 Fastback N and Ford Focus, meaning it can navigate tight underground garages with ease, and squeeze into tricky parks with no stress.
Vision outward isn’t the best, with the rear three-quarters requiring some neck craning to get a better angle. A 360-degree parking camera would be a welcome addition come mid-life facelift time.
I also have some gripes with the doors. Firstly, they’re huge, meaning getting in and out when parked next to another car makes you look like a slithering eel.
Secondly, while the sloping roofline gives the Supra a stunning silhouette, it also means you’ll inevitably misjudge the entry as you slide into the cabin and slap your temple against the door frame.
Finally, you simply cannot drive above 60km/h with the windows down. If you want to enjoy a crisp spring breeze, you’ll need to put up with severe buffeting at the same time.
Ultimately, though, these are small things, and the Supra has impressed in its unlikely servitude as a carpark hero. If you don’t need to carry more than a single passenger, the Supra would be a perfectly amicable daily driver that’ll earn you plenty of new friends (more on that next month).