ON THE ROAD – IAN LYNAS PREVIEWS THE LATEST TOYOTA GR SUPRA
There is no doubt the Toyota GR Supra has made a remarkable impact, affirming its status as a sports car in its purest form, designed and engineered for the joy of driving.
The first global model to be developed by Toyota Gazoo Racing, it has drawn on the company’s sports car heritage while exploring new horizons of handling and performance. For the first time with the established three litre six-cylinder turbocharged engine being joined by a new two litre four-cylinder turbo unit. The new engine widens GR Supra’s market appeal and, being lighter and more compact than the larger litre unit, improves the car’s inertia characteristics and chassis balance for even sharper handling. Where weight is concerned, the GR Supra two litre weighs 100kg less than its three litre equivalent, a saving that further strengthens the car’s dynamic performance. The engine’s shorter length means its mass is located closer to the centre of the car, supporting an ideal front/rear balance and better inertia characteristics. Although power is less, 254bhp/190kW, the engine’s performance is rewarding, supported by a muscular 400Nm of torque available across a wide range of engine speeds, harnessed through an eight-speed, rapid-shifting ZF automatic transmission which provides lightning-fast up and downshifts, with short ratios used for the lower gears. You can take control of gear changes using paddle shifts on the steering wheel; they can also select Normal or Sport driving modes to suit their preference and the conditions. Rest to 100kph (62mph) can be accomplished in 5.2 seconds with GR Supra’s launch control system, and top speed matches the three litre model at an electronically governed 249kph (155mph).
An Active Differential is provided as standard which operates both when accelerating and decelerating and can seamlessly adjust from zero to full, 100% lock, with instant response. A dedicated ECU monitors a wide range of inputs, including steering wheel, throttle and brake pressure, engine and wheel speed and yaw rate, for appropriate triggering of the actuator. The torque difference between the left and right wheels is controlled flexibly and seamlessly depending on the driving situation. This delivers huge benefits in stability and efficiency when the tyres are reaching their performance limit. The effect is felt in all phases of cornering, with increased stability during the braking and cornering phases and then maximum grip as the driver accelerates out of the bend. Operation is adjusted when Sport mode is selected to give more efficient cornering in high-speed driving, for example when using the car on a circuit.
The only external design elements that distinguish the two litre GR Supra from the three litre model are the 18-inch wheels and a 90mm diameter bright chrome finisher for the exhaust tailpipe, in place of the 100mm brushed stainless steel finisher on the more powerful model). Moving to the interior, the driver’s cockpit neatly combines sports car elements with ultra-modern functionality. Designed to help the driver focus entirely on the business of driving, it is directly influenced by the layout found in single-seater racing cars. The low, slim horizontal dashboard maximises the forward view through the windscreen, helping the driver place the car with precision in high-speed driving, while the principal controls are tightly grouped for quick and easy operation.
The instrument panel, centre console and door trim are combined in a seamless design that gives the cockpit a strong, unified feel. The seats have a racing-influenced design that ensures comfort at all times and excellent support, in particular if the car is being used on-track. Body-holding side bolsters are featured on the cushion and high back, and there is an integrated head restraint. Driving enthusiasts enjoy an exhilarating blend of power, agility and precision handling, delivered by the car’s combination of a short wheelbase and wide track, light weight, low centre of gravity and highly rigid body. To be certain that the car delivered on its promise; Toyota President Akio Toyoda put it to the test himself at the Nurburgring in his role as a Master Driver before giving it the final green light. Toyota Gazoo Racing was instrumental in honing the new sports car’s performance, working on the famous Nurburgring Nordschleife and surrounding roads in Germany to achieve the most agile, stable and rewarding handling possible and further extensive testing was carried out on roads around the world.