Six cars ready to battle the new Toyota Supra

By topgear, 24 January 2019

Now we’ve seen what the new Toyota Supra looks like beneath the technicolour wrapping paper, and played spot-the-BMW-switches with its interior, we can look at what Toyota’s benchmarked its reborn sports coupe against – and what you’ll be choosing between if you’re buying one.

Here’s what the Supra will have to beat. And before we get there, a quick refresher of the Japanese car’s vital stats:

Engine: 3.0-litre straight six, turbocharged
Transmission: 8spd auto, RWD
Power: 340bhp
Torque: 500Nm
0-100kph: 4.3sec
Top speed: 250kph
Weight: 1495kg

Price: £52,695

Killer detail: The two-seat Supra is shorter overall and in the wheelbase than the 2.0-litre, naturally aspirated, £25k Toyota GT86. Toyota will offer 2.0-litre turbo versions of the Supra in due course, which could kill off the ‘Toyobaru’ for good…

1. BMW Z4 M40i

Here’s the German elephant in the room. Does Germany have elephants? Hang on, we’re getting off track here.

There’s two ways of looking at the Supra-Z4 thing. You can either baulk at the sheer amount of part-sharing between the two cars, and how obviously BMW-pinched the Supra’s interior is, or you can admit that without joining forces and splitting the costs, Toyota would never have signed off building a new rear-drive driftmobile to please us car folks. And hey, BMW switches are a damn sight nicer than any Toyota buttons we’ve prodded…ever.

The Z4 will be soft-top only, just as the Supra is strictly a coupe. Powertrains are shared between the two cars. BMW promises this new Z4 is a true Boxster rival, and driving it bodes pretty well for the Supra. The big question is – which do you think looks the best?

Engine: 3.0-litre straight six, turbocharged
Transmission: 8spd auto, RWD
Power: 340bhp
Torque: 500Nm
0-100kph: 4.5sec
Top speed: 250kph
Weight: 1610kg

Price: £49,050

Killer detail: The canvas-roofed BMW is 115kg heavier than the hard-top Toyota, and 0-2sec slower from 0-100kph – but it’s over £3,000 cheaper…

2. Porsche 718 Cayman S

Ahh, The Benchmark Sports Car. Whether you’re a Porsche fanboy/girl, a Porker troll or somewhere in the middle (is anyone that balanced on the internet) there’s no getting away from the fact that the Cayman is the Goldilocks sports coupe. Fabulous chassis, and yet, refined, comfy and practical enough to live with every day.

Thing is, it’s never been weaker than it is right now. The charisma-vacuum 2.5-litre boxer engine suffers from a sore throat soundtrack and too much turbo lag. It’s no more frugal than the spectacular old flat six either. Meanwhile, this Cayman’s now seven years old – and there are far younger rivals swarming around the city walls. Make no mistake, this would be a massive scalp for the Supra.

Engine: 2.5-litre flat-six, turbocharged
Gearbox: 6spd manual, RWD
Power: 345bhp
Torque: 420Nm
0-100kph: 4.6sec
Top speed: 285kph
Weight: 1430kg

Price: £51,835

Killer detail: Porsche can’t resist recapturing some of the old flat-six Cayman glory, so we’ll get a Cayman GT4 with the proper number of cylinders later in 2019. Something for a hotter Supra GRMN to aim at, you say? Hmm…

3. Alpine A110

“It’s impossible to take on the Cayman, why even bother?”

“There are no proper sports cars any more, everything’s too fat and complicated.”

“Retro cars are always rubbish, too much style over substance.”

The diminutive A110 blew these arguments to smithereens in 2018. Another sports car announced with a hideously tedious teaser campaign, the finished Frenchie made the long wait worthwhile, by sticking to some core principles with fanatical devotion. Small size, light weight and modest grip made this Megane-engined coupe quite simply the best performance car Top Gear drove in 2018. Seriously, we gave it an award and everything.

Clearly, the Supra’s a different kettle of sushi – front engine, heavier, and likely to be happier in daily grind duty. But the Alpine should serve as a reminder to the Supra: a newcomer can arrive – without a manual gearbox, or a bespoke engine – and if it sticks resolutely to the principles its engineers held dear, the new kid can go to the top of the class.

Engine: 1.8-litre four-cyl, turbocharged
Transmission: 7spd DCT, RWD
Power: 249hp
Torque: 320Nm
0-100kph: 4.5sec
Top speed: 250kph
Weight: 1103kg

Price: £50,805

Killer detail: Everyone who’s driven a A110 comments on how it feels even quicker than its Supra-matching numbers, because of how little inertia the featherweight generates – and how responsive it is. The prospect of a rumoured 296bhp ‘A110 Trophy’ is an exciting one, but could it mar the car’s near-perfect balance?

4. Jaguar F-Type Coupe

Still pretty, innit? Ian Callum’s coupes tend to age rather gracefully. See also: Aston Martin DB7/ Vanquish, Jaguar XKR…  yep, the man knows his way around a pencil when he’s drawing a two-door. If the Supra’s a bit too manga for your eyeballs, the Jag’s our car.

Question is, which Jag? On price alone, the closest rival is the P300 four-cyl turbo version, which starts at £51,210 - £1,500 less than the Toyota. Thing is, it’s nowhere near as quick as the Toyota, and the svelte Jag has always felt at its happiest when barrelling along making loads of noise. It’ never been the sharpest car in its class to drive, by a long chalk, but it does exude a certain badass character. And for that, you need to not be explaining why you bought the 2.0-litre at every petrol station.

So, here are the numbers for the supercharged V6. The Supra may still out-drive it, but whether or not it’ll out-pose or out-shout the Jag is up for debate…

Engine: 3.0-litre V6, supercharged
Transmission: 8spd auto, RWD
Power: 335bhp
Torque: 450Nm
0-100kph: 5.3sec
Top speed: 261kph
Weight: 1577kg

Price: £55,490

Killer detail: These numbers are for the F-Type specced with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. However, you can save yourself £1,280 and bag yourself one with a six-speed manual, old-skool. It’s 0.4sec slower from 0-100kph, if that matters (it doesn’t).

5. BMW M2 Competition

Yep, the Z4 isn’t the only Bavarian interloper challenging the Supra’s mettle. For less money, you can get your hands on a fully-fledged M car with a proper M Division engine – the 3.0-litre bi-turbo straight-six from the M4. What’s more, the punchy, pugnacious M2 is a collector’s item in the BMW range these days – one of the final remaining cars that BMW makes that can actually claim to be good-looking.

No deformed kidney grilles here, just phat arches and mega stance. It’s all attitude to look at, but nowhere near as hairy-scary to drive as the spiteful M4. The M2 Comp is the best M car BMW makes right now. It’d be deliciously awkward if the Supra trampled all over its partner. Watch this space.

Engine: 3.0-litre straight six, twin-turbocharged
Transmission: 6spd manual, RWD
Power: 402bhp
Torque: 550Nm
0-100kph: 4.4sec
Top speed: 250kph
Weight: 1625kg

Price: £49,805

Killer detail: Get the M2 Comp while it’s hot. The model faces an uncertain future as the next 1 Series hatchback, which the M2 is based on, morphs into a front-wheel drive hatchback. The next 2 Series coupe is expected to follow suit, ditching rear-drive for front and four-wheel drive. Hanging onto a straight-six motor is by no means a given, too. Future classic, anyone?

6. Audi TT RS

You’d forgotten about this one, hadn’t you? Well, un-forget it – the TT RS is quietly one of the best fast Audis of the past decade.

It’s down to the engine, but before we go all gooey about the five-cylinder motor and start using works like ‘warble’ and ‘Group B rally pedigree’, let’s hold fire. Other Audis – like the RSQ3, RS3 and the old TT RS, have also used a sonorous 2.5-litre turbo engine, but beyond raw pace and a cracking soundtrack, been more one-dimensional than a Disney villain.

For the TT RS, Audi went to town on its anachronistic five-pot motor. It had to, or the notoriously petrol-o-holic would never have been signed off by the emissions testing people. With a new block cast in aluminium rather than steel, and lighter internals, Audi lopped some 25kg off the TT’s nose-heaviness. Meanwhile, the throttle response felt like it’s had Red Bull injected into its eyeballs. And there was the upshot of a dollop more poke, to almost four-hundred horsepower.

As a result, this blisteringly rapid designer-label shoe no longer handled like a Christmas shopping trolley with all the wine and gin piled into the front. It cornered with some obedience, instead of understeering like the tyres were made of wood. Okay, the quattro drive still lacks the adjustability of what AMG and Ford can manage, but cross-country, the TT RS was quicker than a supercar. And sounded like one.

It’s off-sale now, as Audi sweats how to get the facelifted TT through the strict new WLTP efficiency tests. If the TT can survive CO2 boot camp, it’ll be a welcome late arrival at the Supra’s sports car party…

Engine: 2.5-litre 5cyl, turbocharged
Transmission: 7spd DCT, AWD
Power: 394bhp
Torque: 480Nm
0-100kph: 3.7sec
Top speed: 250kph
Weight: 1515kg

Price: £51,800

Killer detail: choose between a 2+2(ish) seater coupe, a strict two-seater soft-top, and rest assured that as per usual for a fast VW Group car, the claimed 0-100kph time is very pessimistic. We’ve seen these things go sub 3.5sec to 100kph.