Review: 2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 -- A Better Performance Bargain?

By Peter Nelson

July 15, 2020

All photos by Peter Nelson

 

We enjoyed our time with the 2020 GR Supra 3.0 Premium a few months back. The combination of the torquey, smooth, turbo inline-6, with a short wheelbase and excellent suspension, made it one of the best cars we’ve driven this year, especially for its sub-$51,000 base price.

 

Recently, Toyota gave us the new, mildly-abridged version of the GR Supra 3.0, the new 2021 GR Supra 2.0. We’d like to put a lot of emphasis on mildly, because while it has less power and less standard features, it’s still a very likable car on its own. Since we just reviewed the 2020 GR Supra 3.0 a few months ago, here are some quick thoughts on the 2021 2.0, such as how it’s different, and why we find it to be a good performance bargain.

 

The starting price of our 2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 tester was $42,990, with the additional Safety and Technology Package adding $3,485, making the all-day total $46,475. Major thanks to Toyota USA for squeezing us in on the schedule right before it went back to Toyota for analysis.

 

 

Engine: Less Power, With Room For Improvement

 

Like the Supra 3.0, the 2.0 is powered by one of BMW’s all-aluminum, twin-scroll-turbo, B-series powerplants. Under the hood is the B48; a 2.0-liter inline-4 lump sporting direct injection, variable valve lift, and variable valve timing. It might also be a closed-deck design (which is good for aftermarket power), though we haven’t fully confirmed this detail.

 

Power output is rated at 255 horsepower and 295 lb.-feet of torque, which can push the 3,181 lb. coupe (219 lbs. lighter than the 3.0, by the way) to 60 MPH in a scant 5.0 seconds.

 

While the 2.0 has less power, 40 hp less than the 2020 3.0 to be exact, and 127 less than the 2021 3.0, it still felt quite ample. The torque band was very fun with a strong mid-range, and while it didn't rev out very high, the engine still got the job done quickly before cutting off around 6500 RPM. Gearing in its 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox was adequate as well; 1st through 3rd gears were relatively short, while 7th and 8th were long for highway cruising. It’s 295 lb.-feet of torque allowed for ample passing ability on the highway, and had a nice shove while taking off from green lights.

 

 

We not only dug the B48 for its power, but also its tone. It made a great, brooding growl around 2,000 RPM cruising on the highway, and a sharp, angry bark higher up in the rev range. Toyota did a great job making the theatrics match its sportscar characteristics.

 

The B48 2.0 made the most of the tiny 13.7 gallon fuel tank as it returned some very impressive mileage on the highway. Fuel mileage was not rated at the time of testing, but we saw over 30 MPG during bouts of easy-going highway cruising.

 

When we say the engine has room for improvement, we don’t mean that anything is lacking, but rather there’s room in the aftermarket. Considering this same engine comes in the 2020 BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe that we drove, albeit sitting transversely, and makes 300 horsepower rolling off the production line, we’re betting there will be plenty of ways to match a 3.0’s factory numbers, and then some.

 

 

Handling: Less Weight And Now A Midship!

 

Popping the hood reveals its little 4-cylinder heart, which looks quite small under the hood of the Supra’s wide front-end. Tacking on another benefit for the aftermarket, everything on the engine is quite accessible thanks to the engine’s significantly-smaller size; we see turbo upgrades as a popular enthusiast mod in the cards. The longblock is also fully behind the front shock towers, making this a true front-mid chassis. This is definitely noticeable from the driver’s seat.

 

With less weight sitting nicely-centered between the front and rear wheels, the 2.0 feels more agile compared the 3.0. The 3.0 is certainly agile with sharp turn-in, and great front-end feel, but the 2.0 is even better. Feeling the weight shift between transitions, or rather the lack thereof, makes for a planted, knife-edge handling experience. Weight also didn’t shift as much under braking, though that could be attributed to suspension tuning.

 

Just like the 3.0, the Supra 2.0 utilizes double-joint MacPherson front and multi-link rear suspension, though without Toyota’s optional Adaptive Variable Sport suspension, which comes standard on the 3.0. Suspension valving is still very good; we’d say its tuned as a good middle ground between stiff and sporty, and grand touring compliance. Enthusiasts would most likely want to upgrade to at least aftermarket springs and sway bars pretty quickly, however.

 

The 2.0 comes equipped with slightly-smaller 18" wheels from the factory. These pleasant-looking alloys are wrapped in 255/40/18 Michelin Pilot Super Sports up front, 275/40/18s out back. They look meatier than the average sports car tire these days, which is a definitely a plus in our book. They also rode very well and didn't translate as much of Southern California's infamously crappy roads as the 3.0's 19s did. 

 

 

Interior And Tech

 

The interior dimensions, amenities, and infotainment system matches the 3.0’s. Instead of full leather sport seats with electric adjustment, the 2.0 comes standard with alcantara-wrapped sport seats that are eight-way manually adjusted, and have great bolstering. We found the alcantara held us in better than the 3.0's leather seats; less expensive and more track-ready adds to the 2.0's performance value for sure. Dual zone automatic climate control, carbon fiber interior trim, leather knee cushions (one of our favorite parts of the Supra’s interior), and an 8.8-inch digital gauge cluster are standard, just like in the 3.0.

 

Our tester was equipped with the $3,485 Safety and Technology Package, containing Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Parking Sensors, and Emergency Braking. It also had an upgraded 500W JBL sound system, Apple CarPlay (no Android Auto option), and several other convenience amenities. We found the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control to be more intuitive and less jerky than other systems we’ve used in the past. When activated, it didn’t make us look like nervous, uncertain drivers while coming up on slow-moving, inconsiderate fools in the far-left lane.

 

 

Minor Teething Issues

 

We’re almost certain this is due to our tester being a pre-production development car, but the throttle and gearbox were a tad rough and laggy at times. Shifts were neck-snapping in Sport at almost-full throttle and while downshifting, and coming on and off throttle during spirited driving caused the Supra to stumble a tad. Or, this could be due to our tester being mercilessly put through the ringer before it was in our possession.

 

We hope to get behind the wheel of a normal, production example to confirm these are just pre-prod characteristics, and also... well, because it’s a fun car and we want more time in it!

 

A Good Value

 

Our short time with the 2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 was quite enjoyable. The torquey 2.0 turbo is very likable, the lower weight is noticeable, and the pricing works out to be a good value. The 3.0 is brilliant, but comparing base trim to base trim, consumers get a lot for $8,000 less in this one (base pricing for the 2021 3.0 is $52,900). Factoring in the Supra as the object of the aftermarket’s affection in the coming years, one could potentially make the 2.0 into an even-lighter little weekend track beast, with sharper handling and even more power for corner-exit, and get great fuel economy as a nice bonus. We forgot to mention this earlier, but the 2.0 has a mechanical limited-slip differential as opposed to the 3.0’s active rear sport differential; an even nicer bonus for those concerned with trackability, and reliably getting the power down.

 

Check out our POV video!