SUMMIT POINT, W.Va. — The 2020 Toyota GR Supra is quite the multi-layered cake. It resulted from a pragmatic collaboration with BMW, which caused an uproar from those who balk at Toyota's halo car sharing Bavarian DNA. Then there are the comparisons to its predecessor, the legendary Supra A80 (1993-1998), as well its platform-mate, the BMW Z4. Then there's the translation from the ZT-1 concept car's wild look to a more compact production Supra, whose dimensions were dictated by the chief engineer and whose final look caused some disappointment.
For now, we're going to focus on the car itself — the layer that ultimately matters most to those who might actually buy the thing. Putting aside (but not forgetting) its history and development, the 2020 Supra is an exceptional car: a rear-drive, two-seat sports car, which as chief engineer Tetsuya Tada explains, is defined by specific diminutive dimensions and an emphasis on performance and handling. That spurred the creation of the unique Supra/Z4 platform in the first place (rather than adapting an existing platform), and made it necessary to adapt/shrink the well-received ZT-1 concept's look.
Its wheelbase (97.2 inches) and length (172.5) are virtually identical to a Porsche 718 Cayman's — but its width and track are more than 2 inches wider. Like that car and unlike past Supras, it seats only two, albeit with sufficient space for someone taller than 6 feet. Its narrow cargo area can handle weekend getaway luggage, but isn't nearly as capacious as a Corvette (or an A80 Supra).
You can feel the Supra's size (or lack thereof) from the driver seat. The beltline is high, the greenhouse short and the clamshell hood stretches out before you, but it doesn't overwhelm as similar long-hood/short-deck cars like a Mercedes-AMG GT can. It's also balanced, with a 50:50 weight distribution that's pretty much written into anything with Bavarian DNA, and possesses an eagerness to turn in smartly and rotate around you. Through longer arcing turns, you can feel what the car is doing through the seat of your pants and can steer with the responsive throttle. Along those lines, you can wag its tail and slide a bit when in Sport mode and with the traction control off. Shut stability control off and it's possible to easily coerce and then hold a full-blown smoky slide, which is something chief test driver Herwig Daenens is obviously quite fond of.
We know, we went on several hot laps around West Virginia's Summit Point Motorsports Park in the passenger seat with him. He smiled a lot. Being controllable at the limit and free from snap oversteer were priorities for both Daenens and Tada, who exclusively determined the Supra's suspension tuning, steering feel and body rigidity. This is their baby, this is the way they want their sports cars to behave.