Home » A 45th Anniversary Toyota Supra By Any Other Name Would Be Sweeter

A 45th Anniversary Toyota Supra By Any Other Name Would Be Sweeter

Toyota Gr Supra Parker Kligerman Ts1 Copy
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Back in 2019, I drove for Toyota in the NASCAR Cup Series for a small part-time team that had factory support at times. This also happened to be right when the new Supra landed in the USA. As a fan of Super Street magazine growing up, just hearing the word Supra makes me nostalgic for all those times discussing with friends how the original was capable of 100,000 horsepower and that when a Supra accelerates, the world stops. It was the unicorn car for us pre-teens.

So, a new one? Well, it had to be incredible. Then something funny happened. I was offered an allocation of one of the limited-edition launch cars; I could even choose the number it would be.

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I deliberated and deliberated, read reviews, and drove one. A Toyota dealership on the way to the NBC Studio (I also worked in TV) had a navy blue one that looked fantastic. I stared at it every time I drove by.

Then I showed my girlfriend. “Really? You want that?!” she replied.

I felt bad because I thought it was a pretty car.

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I deliberated more … and then I declined it. Partly because, at the time, my fledgling racing career wasn’t providing the most considerable or consistent income, and I just didn’t love it. I felt this allocation should go to somebody it would mean more to.

My biggest gripe? It was an automatic.

Now, I’ve driven the manual, and it’s everything I hoped for. More specifically, the 45th Anniversary Edition.

What is the GR Supra 45th Anniversary Edition?

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It’s the 20-year high school reunion of Supras. “Wait,” you say, “the Supra name being 45 years old doesn’t seem right.” That’s because the Anniversary Edition is really an ode to the most famous Supra, the Mk4 in the Fast and the Furious – which was about 20 years ago, so this is an excuse for us all to get together and talk about skipping gym class to look at Mk4 Supras.

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Toyota

Toyota will only make 900 of these nostalgic emo-song Supras, and only in two colors: Mikan Blast, which is orange, and Absolute Zero, which is, um, white. In GR trim, the Supra gets a manually adjustable wing, some added bracing up front, unique wheels, and painted brake calipers. There’s also a stripe down the side that says “Supra,” in case you forget what you’re driving.

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Toyota

Most importantly, this Supra has something the original Mk5 model didn’t have: a manual gearbox!

The Basics

– 0-60: 3.9 seconds
– 382 HP at 5800 RPM
– 362 lb/ft of torque at 1800
– Turbocharged six-cylinder
– Six-Speed Manual

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First Impressions

When the car was graciously delivered to me, it was on a busy side street outside my apartment building. So, about five seconds after getting the keys, I had to maneuver into a tight parallel parking spot to run and get my garage opener. Thankfully, my review car had parking assist, because once I got past its in-your-face looks, I realized I couldn’t see a damn thing. More on this later.

Once I took the Supra for an actual drive going forward, I could immediately tell the 2024 model takes what I loved about the first Mk5 Supra I drove and makes it all even better.

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Before I go any further, let me get something out of the way. Yes, upon sitting in the car for the first time, it smells like a BMW. The infotainment system, chimes, and dials are all BMW. Your annoying “friend” who reposts Instagram links in your group chat daily will also remind you, “It’s just a BMW!” [Me? – MH]

I’ve owned a BMW, and I’ve always liked BMW interiors. So, as I sat there driving this excellent sports car, I wondered: why is it a bad thing if it has BMW DNA?

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That wondering stopped as soon as I rowed my way up and down through all six of the wonderful gears. Forget whether or not this Supra is more BMW than Toyota – I felt compelled to tell anyone who would listen about this gearbox!

The Manual Gearbox

It’s absolutely sensational. Easily one of the best manual gearboxes I have ever driven. It is so smooth, yet also mechanical and rigid as you place it in gear. This is what you imagine shifting a 2024 manual would be, so perfected in its engineering that the developers could focus on feel. It’s as if each action of operating the gearbox was carefully measured and debated but by car people, not some corporate committee. More like Apple in the ‘90s, as if a small team of dedicated experts sat around with a couple of pizzas late at night debating what humans really want from a gear shift. Less why mechanically you would shift gears and more what emotion could a gear shift create.

 

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They also term it an “intelligent manual” because it has an optional “auto-blip” to help you match revs, which works very well, especially on a tight racetrack like the FCP Euro Proving Grounds autocross track at Lime Rock Park. Less so when you’re leaving your quiet neighborhood on an early morning, and your car intelligently revs to 4000 RPM right next to Betty and her black lab. Betty isn’t impressed, and your neighbors all think, “I hate that guy.”

Putting this aside, I also believe it may be the easiest manual gearbox I have ever driven. The clutch is perfect, and it just seems like you would have to actively try to make a shifting mistake or stall the car in order to have anything less than a wonderful experience. Anyone making a manual gearbox from this point on absolutely must use the Supra’s transmission as their benchmark. It simply doesn’t get better than this.

On The Racetrack

My friends at Lime Rock Park are cool people. They have one of the most historic racetracks in America, nestled in a small valley in North West Connecticut with one of the most beautiful skid pads and Autocross courses named the FCP Euro Proving Grounds. Yet, maybe because I am a small part of the ownership group (I own the equivalent of one blade of grass), they let me come up there and thrash cars about, so that’s exactly what I did with this 45th Anniversary Edition Supra. So, how does it drive on the racetrack?

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Fucking perfect. Much like the gearbox, they knew what they were doing. This is one of the most approachable fast cars I have ever hopped into on a racetrack. It has a seriousness with the power and how that power arrives once the boost hits, but it’s the approachability when you get to the braking zone or into a corner that shocked me. No matter how obtuse you’re in the braking zone, you can find the apex (within reason), and then from there, the throttle is less an accelerant and more a device for helping point the front end where you would like it to go on the exit.

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So now you’re like, “Oh no, it’s so good that means it can’t do fun stuff like drift?” Nope, that’s just as easy. Want to have a massive drift on the exit? Turn the wheel further as you give it a bit more throttle, and it will gracefully release the rear tires into a lovely drift.

If you find yourself in one of these slides and decide, “You know, I would much rather be going straight,” then a few quick adjustments of the wheel, a backing down on the throttle, and somehow the rear end of the car gets the message and comes back in line.

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All of this is quite funny to me because, on the street, there can be small second-gear moments in the Supra that seem edgy. They seem edgy because any break of traction on the street feels like impending doom. But when you give it just 10% more leeway being on a racetrack, suddenly you realize that break of traction wasn’t even close to its final resting place.

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Toyota

There is a whole expanse of available grip and angle. Like walking into a small, modest house, getting to the back, and realizing it was hiding a 10-acre cascading garden with a pool and expansive views.

The fruit of this car is on the other side of your initial reaction.

On The Street

I think the GR Supra’s full potential is simply not accessible on the street. It is fun, but the engine often feels muted at lower RPM, before the boost really kicks in. You can tell it has serious cornering potential, but as with most modern sports cars, I felt it almost impossible to sense its capabilities on the street after driving it on the track.

In Normal mode, the car offers a very comfortable ride, but in Sport, it can certainly be a tad aggressive for messy roads and bumps. On the highway, it’s a wonderful cruiser. Despite being more of a high-strung sports car, it covered miles effortlessly without draining my energy. Ever gone on a long drive in a Miata? That can be tiring. On the highway, the little roadster’s low power means moves need to be well planned and its small size makes trucks feel like planets. You don’t get that in the Supra.

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It feels like it belongs, and over the course of a few longer drives, it reminded me more of my 911 than a Miata.

This was surprising because one massive drawback on the street is the cabin. It just feels compact. The blind spots, which have been well-documented, are real, like really real. Without all the backup cameras and assistance, I would certainly bump into something.

Then there’s trying to go left from a stop sign. As you look right, it will simply be a guess as to whether or not there is oncoming traffic. Thankfully, you have 382 horsepower at your disposal to get you away from any cars you might pull out in front of.

You Will Make New Friends

Making friends can be challenging, but if you find yourself in a 45th Anniversary edition Mikan Blast Supra, I can assure you that you’ll engage in numerous conversations, and some may even become friends.

On my drive to Lime Rock, I had a man in a Honda Accord go by me on the highway, then slowly let me catch up to where he could roll down his window and give me a massive thumbs up, waving his hand until he knew I saw.

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Then as I stopped for gas at Cumberland Farms, I had a nice man take the time to have a 15-minute conversation about the orange Supra and compare it to the Boxster he is thinking of getting.

The next day, I took the Supra around Greenwich, CT, home to countless Defenders and overly optioned 911s. Some gave me the “What is that?” look. People were perplexed by this bright orange vehicle that was obviously a sports car but didn’t say Porsche on the front.

On my last day with the car, my girlfriend and I were driving back from dinner when we pulled behind a red Supra wearing a license plate that read “ITZABMW.” As I followed, I could tell we would be friends. This person is not dissuaded by internet commenters who will never buy one of these cars telling you what they think it is. Confident enough to lean into the joke.

Mk5 Supra owners make great party guests, I’m sure.

Conclusion

As you will see in my video, my thoughts on the GR Supra are simple. Putting the 45th Anniversary Edition aside, the 3.0 Liter, Manual GR Supra is a fantastic sports car, the very thing just five years ago people were saying may never be made again.

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If you’re in the market for a sports car that can be tracked and is capable of long drives without causing lasting back problems and stress, then the Supra is a must-see.

Its biggest problem is that 45 years ago, the American division of Toyota came up with a name that it will never live up to. Take that away, and we would all praise Toyota for giving us a piece of machinery that many other car manufacturers wouldn’t touch.

It’s a great sports car. Don’t be a snob. Give it a look.

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Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
26 days ago

Not sure who this sticker pack is targeting, it neither looks current or particularly retro. They’re offering something similar on the GR86. Good point on the BMW interior-Toyota interiors seem to yo-yo between acceptably (even sometimes pleasantly) bland to actively ugly depending on year and model. Having driven one with the auto, I can say to anyone considering one, go buy one it’s fantastic, the stick was the only thing it was missing (well besides a better looking front end and slightly less compromised sight lines…)

Clear_prop
Clear_prop
26 days ago

I sat in one at the auto show, and whacked my head getting in since the roof curves down much lower then you think it should.

Sitting in it, there is ZERO visibility left or right since your head is up in the roof bubble and the top of the window is below your eyeline. Forward visibility is tank-like. Rear visibility is typical sportscar non-existent.

StLOrca
StLOrca
26 days ago

My 1983 Supra is the superior Supra. I will believe this unto the grave and past the heat death of the universe.

Last edited 26 days ago by StLOrca
Tarragon
Tarragon
26 days ago

I like the look. And I love the orange. I’m currently wearing an orange watch band, orange sneakers, and drove to work in an orange car, so I might be a bit biased here.

Unfortunately I don’t fit. I sat in one at an autocross event and barely fit without my helmet. It wasn’t even close wearing the helmet. This is weird because by the specs the headroom is only about .5 inches less than the BMW I autocross in.

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
26 days ago

I am going to disagree with everyone, and die on this hill alone if I must. I think it looks FANTASTIC!!! It stands out amongst a sea of same-y CUV/SUV’s. Nice write up Parker. Now go buy that manual you so want..

Banana Stand Money
Banana Stand Money
26 days ago

I agree. I wouldn’t call it “beautiful” but it certainly looks fetching in “Absolute Zero” white.

Chronometric
Chronometric
27 days ago

The new Supra is not selling well because it has bad styling. I know, let’s add wings, stripes, and a crazy color. I guess doubling down in your core customer is one strategy.

Madewithgenuineparts
Madewithgenuineparts
26 days ago
Reply to  Chronometric

It’s not selling well because they don’t send any to dealerships.

BunkyTheMelon
BunkyTheMelon
27 days ago

A) The new Supra is fugly, There I said it,
B) I can’t believe that, in the year 2024, stickers are still a thing. It’s just so low rent and gaudy looking. The kind of stuff a kid sticks on his clapped out V6 SN95 Mustang.

Noahwayout
Noahwayout
26 days ago
Reply to  BunkyTheMelon

Stickers (I prefer decals) are on many top trim performance spec vehicles – it’s not just a Toyota thing. TRX, 911 Carrera T and GT3, Raptors, Chargers and Challengers, and the list goes on.

BunkyTheMelon
BunkyTheMelon
26 days ago
Reply to  Noahwayout

I guess it’s just the little ones down the side (like this one) that look like an absolute afterthought that really bother me. They look like the sticker packages we’d put on at the dealership I worked at in the 90’s.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
27 days ago

It needs to look more like a shoe

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
27 days ago

Mikan Blast is orange because ‘mikan’ is Japanese for tangerine.
-and it’s pronounced mē-khan—except you don’t have to yell the Khan part.

there ya go: you learned something useless today. I’m always here to help 😉

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
27 days ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

This makes it even more wonderfully F&F – I can hear Dom busting it out now. Thank you.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
26 days ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

If only more of the car were Japanese

Goof
Goof
27 days ago

Despite living in a city where I should be seeing a fair number of Supras, I … do not see a lot of Supras. I think there’s two 4-cylinders where I am, but once the new Toyobarus hit, those Supra buyers were basically cannibalized by the Toyobaru.

I’ve hucked one of these (a 6-cylinder manual) around Palmer, and they’re pretty good! Unfortunately people have less money for sports cars nowadays, so in the end I think they’re going to always be uncommon. These won’t be like the Mk4 or especially not like 350/370Zs which were from a different time. The Supra is a car that will ultimately go out with a whimper, which is sad because it was extremely competent for what you paid, but there’s just not enough buyers for them anymore.

Electronika
Electronika
27 days ago

All I can say is I love my 2024. Its absolutely sublime. I was skeptical before I saw and drove mine but I fell in love at first sight. It will be a forever car in my fleet.

V10omous
V10omous
27 days ago

 I wondered: why is it a bad thing if it has BMW DNA?

I’ll take a stab at this. To me, the #1 reason to buy a Toyota sports car over something like a Porsche, an American muscle car, or dare I say a BMW, is the perception that it will be unfailingly reliable. That’s the tradeoff you make for perhaps less power, weird styling, and so on.

Making a large portion of the car a BMW product calls that #1 selling point into question. Why not just buy an M2 and get the entire BMW experience?

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
27 days ago
Reply to  V10omous

For me, it’s the character of the car that comes into question in situations like these.

Like for handling, I believe it used to be said that European performance cars usually sported softer springs but with stiffer dampening while the Asian ones did the opposite. So you got a different feel depending on the choices the firms made.

But now, as companies embark on collabs as the kids say, that individual character seems on the path to being diluted, and perhaps as you suggest, even creating situations where you get the downsides of both for the consumer, but the upside of greater profitability for the manufacturers.

The Dude
The Dude
27 days ago
Reply to  V10omous

Exactly. Maybe I’m biased as a life long Toyota fan but I want Toyota engineering in my Toyotas. Not BMW. I just consider Toyotas to be better engineered.

Jeep Liberty, MY LEG!
Jeep Liberty, MY LEG!
27 days ago
Reply to  V10omous

I will always dunk on the Supra for this. Toyota branding paired with BMW reliability. The guy who pushed that through resigned from his last gig as RnD for an ice cream company when his suggestion for a “toothpaste and orange juice” flavor didn’t go over well.

Last edited 27 days ago by Jeep Liberty, MY LEG!
Noahwayout
Noahwayout
26 days ago
Reply to  V10omous

Putting aside the fact that Toyota doesn’t actually build a suitable drivetrain for a car like this and doing so would be a non-starter for a low production vehicle, the B58 has proven reliable over it’s 9 year lifespan and BMW manuals have almost never been a weak point. Regarding the M2 it starts at $5k more than a Supra in Premium trim.

So it comes down to one question. Would we have preferred that Toyota build this car at all or not?

Last edited 26 days ago by Noahwayout
V10omous
V10omous
26 days ago
Reply to  Noahwayout

Personally I would have preferred this car to be a smaller, lighter, and more focused RC350, built entirely by Toyota. That’s a car I might have purchased. Nostalgia for the I6 powertrain is not something I feel strongly about at all.

To answer your question directly, yes I prefer that the Supra exists vs. not, but the question is basically academic because I wouldn’t buy this version of it.

Noahwayout
Noahwayout
26 days ago
Reply to  V10omous

The lightest RC350 is 400lbs heavier than than the heaviest Supra and it’s built on a platform that is primarily used for medium and full sized sedans. It just doesn’t seem possible to make a proper sports car with those bones.

Having owned a few I6 BMWs that worked out to be rather reliable, I see the BMW drivetrain as icing on the cake of what I think is a pretty rad looking car. The M2 is a compelling but given the choice I learn towards the Supra.

Last edited 26 days ago by Noahwayout
JC 06Z33
JC 06Z33
26 days ago
Reply to  V10omous

Bingo. Number one thing I love about my Z is that it’s dependable, and if something does break or wear out it’s easy and cheap to replace myself. Sure, it’s got a lot of parts shared with an Altima instead of an M3, but that’s a bonus in my book.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
27 days ago

Didn’t the 1990’s (and Lucid) prove that aerodynamics don’t have to be stupid-ugly?

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
27 days ago

The car is ugly.
The wing and stripes make it worse.

The Mk4 wasn’t particularly pretty – and I didn’t care for the Roadrunner wing – but it was a clean design that wasn’t ugly.

Someone needs to tell these “designers” when to stop “designing”.

(Your GF was right)

Last edited 27 days ago by Urban Runabout
Jack Trade
Jack Trade
27 days ago

The look of the entire car strikes me as akin to the mojo of one of those Luminox “Navy Seal” watches – lots of convolutions that the ad copy insinuates will be good for combat missions, but that end up looking a little out of place in the everyday lives most buyers actually live.

Just change “combat missions” to “racing events” and that could describe this car’s design. I mean as bought by most of us here in the commentariat, not by a pro. 😉

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