The Two Faces of the 2021 Toyota Supra
The new Toyota Supra is one of the hottest sports cars on the market. First reintroduced for the 2020 model year after an almost two-decade absence, this unique and highly capable vehicle was an instant hit. Now, for the 2021 model year, Toyota has significantly improved the design with more power and other performance upgrades. Further, the six-cylinder Supra 3.0 is being joined by a more affordable and lighter four-cylinder Supra 2.0 that is ideal for drivers seeking a simpler and more agile vehicle. So let us dive into some of the features and capabilities of the two versions of Toyota’s 2021 GR Supra, so you are ready for when you head to your local Toyota dealership.
When it first hit the American market for the 2020 model year, there was only a single engine option for the new Supra. This was an extremely capable 3.0L turbocharged inline-six rated for 335 horsepower and 365 lb-ft of torque. However, the Japanese and European markets also offered a more basic version of the GR Supra that was equipped with a 2.0L turbocharged inline-four. Although this version was largely intended to avoid the engine size vehicle taxes found in many foreign countries, the light weight and simplicity of the less powerful Supra made it distinct enough that Toyota decided to bring it to America as well.
For the 2021 American model, the inline-four Supra 2.0 is rated for 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, giving the lighter car a 0 to 60 mph acceleration of 5 seconds flat and allowing it to hit the same 155 mph top speed of the more powerful Supra 3.0. And for those who are interested in using a Supra as their daily driver, the smaller engine in the Supra 2.0 is rated for an extremely good 28 MPG combined. Altogether, the inline-four version of this car makes for a balanced package with more than enough power to have fun during normal driving.
However, for those seeking a track car or who just want to experience raw acceleration from time to time, then there is the more powerful Supra 3.0. Although the 2021 version of this car still uses the same basic 3.0L turbocharged inline-six engine as the 2020 model year, this engine has been heavily upgraded for a significant increase in power. The new version now produces 382 horsepower and 368 lb-ft of torque, giving the 2021 Supra 3.0 an incredible acceleration of just 3.9 seconds from 0 to 60 mph. But the engines are not the only difference between the two versions of the Supra.
Acceleration vs Agility
Both the 2021 GR Supra 2.0 and the 2021 GR Supra 3.0 are incredibly well-balanced cars that can handle both straights and corners with ease. While there are plenty of cars with more power than even the Supra 3.0 in this price range, there are very few cars that are as well-rounded. Both of the 2021 Supra variants are rear-wheel drive vehicles with close to 50/50 weight distribution, giving them an incredible level of handling that makes them a joy to drive and can even allow a skilled driver to outperform a more powerful car.
However, the two Supras each have their own strength. With its much more powerful inline-six, the Supra 3.0 has significantly better acceleration and will clearly win in any sort of drag race. But the Supra 3.0 tips the scales at 3,400 pounds empty, while the Supra 2.0 is over 200 pounds lighter at 3,181 pounds. This much lighter construction of the Supra 2.0 gives it a clear edge in agility and allows it to carry more speed through corners. The lighter engine in the Supra 2.0 also shifts its center of gravity slightly further back and puts it closer to the ideal 50/50 weight distribution.
While the lower weight and better balance of the Supra 2.0 does make it a more playful car, the Supra 3.0 is still the superior all-around package for those seeking the highest performance possible. In general, the smaller Supra is better suited for spirited driving, while the more powerful variant is better for serious driving. And this is not only because the Supra 3.0 has more power, but because it has a number of other advanced performance features as well.
Bring the Tech
Simply building a well-balanced chassis and including a powerful engine is no longer enough to produce a top of the line sports car. These days it is just as important to include advanced performance technologies designed to improve handling, braking, and power delivery. And for the 2021 model year of Toyota’s GR Supra, all of those technologies are only found on the inline-six version of the car. While this does not make the Supra 2.0 a bad car, indeed many enthusiasts may prefer the simpler vehicle precisely because it lacks these features, it does give the Supra 3.0 a noticeable edge when driving at the limit.
The simplest expression of these differences is in the brakes of the two cars. While both versions come with vented rotors, and the slightly larger rotors of the Supra 3.0 are adequately explained by its heavier weight, the Supra 3.0 comes with four-piston Brembo fixed calipers where the Supra 2.0 only has single-piston floating calipers. This gives the larger car the significantly superior stopping technology.
For suspension, the Supra 2.0 comes with normal dampers, but the Supra 3.0 can be equipped with the optional Adaptive Variable Sport suspension. This system is electronically controlled to provide a superior ride that matches suspension travel with the road surface. It can also be put into different modes, becoming softer for daily driving or more firm for performance driving. These advantages simultaneously make the Supra 3.0 both a more comfortable and better handling car.
Finally, the Supra 3.0 comes standard with an active electronically controlled limited slip differential. This marvelous piece of technology monitors all aspects of the car and varies rear differential lockup from 0 to 100 percent as needed. Unlike a traditional mechanical limited slip differential, the active differential is programmed to allow slip when it is beneficial. It is also a true differential that is entirely unrelated to the “electronic limited slip differentials” advertised by many other manufacturers, which are really just using traction control to compensate for an open differential.
Six or Four
Despite the numerous advantages of the more powerful and more advanced Supra 3.0, the Supra 2.0 is still an extremely compelling package that is well worth consideration. For drivers interested in having a fun car for daily driving or weekend cruising, the lighter weight of the Supra 2.0 may well be more noticeable than the power and technology in the Supra 3.0. And the lower sticker price and operating costs of the simpler car are always a nice additional benefit. However, the best way to decide between the two variants of the 2021 Toyota GR Supra is, of course, to head down to Colonial Motor Mart in Indiana, PA, and check them out in person.