Thoughts on the New Supra

by Michael Satterfield

I was excited when I got the email stating I had been scheduled to have the all-new Toyota Supra for a week of testing. It is by far one of the most controversial cars to been released in recent memory. People love it, hate it, or love to hate it. Admittedly I can understand why this car has been the source of such division. Men in their mid-30s and 40s (like myself) have been bitten by the same nostalgia bug as their Gen-X parents and boomer grandparents. Just like previous generations, car enthusiasts today are looking back on the cars they dreamed about in high school or college with rose-colored glasses. From the 300ZX to Fox Body Mustangs the cars of the late 80s and early 90s are finding a lot of demand. Including the Supra which was hyped even more with the movie car status of the original The Fast & Furious a movie that came out shortly after I graduate high school. I mean who wouldn’t want a car that could put a snarky Ferrari-driving investment banker in his place, all with just a few parts overnighted from Japan. While the A80 was a great car for the 1990s, the new A90 is better by every measure and Supra fans should be excited about this car.

I know it is hard to hear that the Supra you lusted after in every issue of Super Street, Import Tuner, and Sport Compact Car, isn’t as amazing as you remember it, but deep down you know it’s true. With only 320hp and weighing in at over 3,400lbs, new Supra weighs less and has more power than the old car; plus, according to Car and Driver the new Supra has a faster 0-60 and quarter-mile time than your high school crush.

Even though the new Supra, which does share a platform and drivetrain with the new BMW Z4, is better in every way, purists are still upset that it doesn’t offer a manual transmission or have an engine from the 90s under the hood. In fact, the aftermarket is already working on ways you can “fix” both “problems” by swapping in a manual BMW gearbox or a complete 2JZ drivetrain from over 20 years ago. But can we all admit neither of those things is being done for performance? Can we come to terms that some in our generation of car enthusiast is becoming the guy at Bob Big Boy with the stupid hotrod? You know the one; it has a 454 big block and a massive blower that he claims makes 700hp when we all know it only has 300hp.

That’s right, the guy with the swapped manual transmission Supra is doing it so he can rope unsuspecting car show-goers into hearing the story about how he spent $12,000 for the chance to make his car slower. That it is one of only a handful ever done, the swap makes the car special and by extension he is special. Do what you like with your Supra, it is your car, but at least be honest about why you did it. As you post up at the local car show and anxiously wait for someone to mutter “I didn’t know they made a manual transmission.” That will be your cue to leap from your Costco folding chair and launch into your well-practiced speech.

I expected the negative comments and a little trash-talking from people online, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, some excited to hear my take, others posting BMW memes. Some wanted to know how well it crashes suggesting I drive into a wall at high speed.

But the reactions the car got out in public was what I found most interesting. I have driven some exotic cars around town, but the Supra attracted more attention than any of them. At gas stations, restaurants, car washes, even just having it parked in the driveway, people wanted to see it and ask questions.

The reaction in person was mixed but overwhelmingly positive, some were just happy there was a new Supra and they all assumed it cost much more than the roughly $50,000 MSRP. 
I drove the Supra around Central Texas for a week, in sport mode it is a pure joy to drive, on winding back roads the paddle shifters are fun, and the exhaust burble was so good that my girlfriend suggested I should get a louder exhaust for my daily driver, because she loved the aggressive sound of the Supra. For long runs on the highway, switching back to normal mode makes it as quiet and smooth as you can expect in a small two-seat sports car. The trunk is large enough for two carry on bags and while there is a lot of BMW parts inside, it doesn’t feel completely like a BMW.

Driving the Z4 and the Supra are two very different experiences, the Z4 has more of a grand touring feel, it’s still sporty, but softer and more focused on luxury. The Supra has more of a raw sports car feel, in sport mode while clicking through the paddle shifters the car feels much more exotic and special, it doesn’t feel like the big version of the 86 and it doesn’t feel like a cheap version of an RCF, it has its own unique personality. While some people have said that the C8 killed the Supra before it even launched, they are two very different cars, for two very different kinds of driver. Having just driven the C7 Grand Sport a week before the new Supra, I wouldn’t have even put them in the same class, the Supra has a more sophisticated feel, a much higher level of detail, and is really for the driver who wants a car that stands out for the right reasons.

Check out my video where Jennifer and I answer Instagram’s Questions about the new Supra HERE.


  1. Love the photos, first ones to make this car look good.