Back in 1978 I remember the early models which proved that Japanese cars were not only cheap, reliable and well-equipped, but they could be exciting too.
Looking back, the early Supra was raw, but they improved model on model until 2002 when the fourth generation seemed to be the end of the line. Quite why a sassy, on-the-ball manufacturer like Toyota made that decision astonished me and still astonishes me now.
It seems it was to do with falling sales in America and rising awareness of clean and green cars.
Thankfully, someone in Toyota had the sense to revive the model and we now have the fifth generation Supra tested here.
But this is more than just a standard Supra, as Marks & Sparks might say. This is 3.0 Jarama Race Track Edition, a limited edition run and I’m the first motoring journalist in the country to drive it.
The car is denoted as the first in the line by a number 1 on the dashboard. Jamara, in case you don’t know, is the race track in Spain where this model was developed. And I can comfortably report that it is almost as good at trundling around Yorkshire as it is blistering the tarmac in Espana.
It is a proper sports car, with none of the crossover business about it. It is firm, quick and compact, a car built for speed and firm handling.
The figures of 155mph and 0 to 60mph in 4.1 seconds are notional. I did give it a burst on the motorway (safely and within legal limits) and yes, it does sound and feel hot.
Rapid, it may be. But it was safely parked up in car parks where it seemed to get the most attention. Complete strangers told me it was a stunning car, as if I didn’t know.
nterestingly, few knew what model it was. I guess that’s the price of Supra’s absence for all those years. But they all knew it was special. At £54,365, they might have deemed it well priced.
Sounds expensive? It is but compare it with exotica from Porsche and co and it seems competitive.
So, what do you get for the money? Well, it comes in this crayon-style Horizon Blue paintwork with 19in forged alloy wheels and black Alcantara cabin upholstery with blue stitching.
It is a GR Supra sports car in its purest form, with a classic front engine/rear-wheel drive combination. Power is from a straight-six turbocharged 3.0-litre engine which produces 335bhp and 500Nm torque, enabling 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds.
It has a performance-focused chassis with “golden ratio” track and wheelbase proportions for optimum handling agility and control.
Its special Toyota “GR” designation denotes the direct involvement of Toyota Gazoo Racing the car’s development. A badge of honour if you like.
Now for me, this car has one weakness. The cabin. It was finely designed, easy to live with, comfortable and smart but it maybe lacked the drama and panache of some other sports cars.
The car’s special status is signified by a carbon fibre dashboard insert specifying its number in the European production run and featuring an outline map of the Jarama circuit, plus the Toyota GR Supra logo.
The rest of the cabin is stunning. The sports seats are a delight and they seats are power-adjustable and have a memory setting and integrated heating.
The sports performance and handling are every bit as rewarding as the regular GR Supra, founded on the car’s finely balanced chassis and the ideal “golden ratio” between the wide track and short wheelbase. A low centre of gravity, a lightweight and highly rigid body and aerodynamically efficient styling all add to the car’s agility and stability.
The settings are important to Supra customers. It has adaptive variable suspension (with Normal and Sport settings), active differential, sports-tuned steering and powerful Brembo sports brakes with four-pot aluminium front callipers and 348mm ventilated front discs.
The turbo engine is matched to a rapid-shift eight-speed sports automatic transmission. When using the car’s launch control system, 0-62mph acceleration takes just 4.3 seconds.
The equipment specification for the Jarama Racetrack Edition includes satellite navigation with 3D-mapping, smartphone integration (via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), Supra Connect access to connected services and a 10-speaker audio system. Multimedia functions are controlled using an 8.8-inch TFT touchscreen, or (for certain functions) voice recognition.
The Supra Safety-plus Package provides a comprehensive range of active safety features, including a Pre-Collision System with a pedestrian detection function and the ability to recognise cyclists during daytime driving; Lane Departure Alert with steering assist; Adaptive Cruise Control with stop-and-go function; Adaptive High-beam System; Adaptive Front-light System, which adjust the headlight illumination in line with the car’s steering angle; and Road Sign Assist.
This is a proper sports rather than an everyday motor but it has a decent boot (290 litres, would you believe).
A stunner. And a car well worth the Supra badge.
Toyota Supra 3.0 Jarama Race Track Edition
Engine: A 3.0 litre six cylinder petrol engine plus an electric motor
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with sequential option
Performance: Top speed 155mph and 0 to 60mph in 4.3 seconds
Warranty: Five years, 100,000 miles