Compromise sometimes gets a bad name, which is undoubtedly why the hordes of engineers from BMW and Toyota who developed the new Supra just didn't.
However, as in politics and marriage, an inability to find comity amid extremes is not a good thing. So it went the week I spent with the Supra 2.0, a car built precisely to my tastes and which I fully expected to love but did not. I liked it. I enjoyed my time with it. I certainly respected it. I just didn't love it. (Divorce lawyers hear stuff this all the time).
A classic, rear-wheel-drive sports coupe, the Supra has more sexy curves and accelerates faster than Jessica Rabbit. Bedecked in Nitro Yellow, our tester turned more heads than the binomial distribution of a coin flip permutation (math teacher joke).
"Honey, I got two marriage proposals and one indecent proposal," bubbled Child Bride after a quick run to the store in the Supra.
This was off to a good start. The weekend would bring a long-planned, post-COVID-shot journey to witness the new abode of the drama-free child and I wanted to take that car. That the Supra has a few cubic feet of cargo space under a hatchback boosted my argument that we could pack belongings and still make a Trader Joe's run on our way out of town.
The night before we embarked, out of an abundance of caution, I decided to give this notion a test run on the familiar loop around town. Within moments, I found myself whoop-dee-dooing on dips never before seen and gritting teeth over bumps previously undiscovered. Given a choice between handling limits and tire patch contact, the engineers dialed in traction. A lot of it. The car has no give at the four corners.
Steering, likewise, tended way past the pleasing amount of oversteer desired in sports cars. Response in the Supra is immediate. Too immediate. I would have loved it out on a closed-circuit track, but not in a daily driver.
Add to that a less-than-refined lane-keep assist system that veered from lane edge to lane edge before making abrupt, sharp, head-snapping corrections, and it was easy to foresee several hundred miles of Miserable Mama in my immediate future. When Mama's miserable
I was forced to conclude there was no way Blonde Bride, still recovering from a back fracture, could tolerate the thrashing dished out by the Supra. Nor I, to be honest. Gym rat that I am, even at 70, I might tolerate the roughness, but I would not like it.
Alas, the next day Beautiful Blonde awoke to find the Supra kicked to the curb and me loading the always accommodating Highlander.
This followed a profoundly sad realization. I started racing sports cars in high school and spent the better part of my 20's darting about the United States in a two-seater far less refined than this lovely machine. High on my bucket list is the acquisition of just One. More. Sports. Car.
Alas, there is a time to all seasons.
None of which is to say that I did not take this car out to one of four undisclosed contiguous states, on an undisclosed night, on an undisclosed highway, beneath an undisclosed full moon, and let 'er rip.
After a 20-year hiatus, the six-cylinder Supra returned to Toyota's ranks in 2020. It has earned universally high marks this year since Toyota upped its output to 382 hp and 368 ft-lb of torque, bringing it into line with its fraternal twin, the BMW Z4. Both are built in Austria.
Prices are identical, around $51,000 for a Supra 3.0. but Toyota created some market differentiation in 2021 by creating the 2.0, powered by BMW's twin-scroll turbocharger, 1998-cc inline-four.
Starting at $44,000, the 2.0 gives up 127 and 73 pound-feet of torque. It is not as fast, but it is darn quick, and at 200 pounds. lighter, is arguably nimbler.
The 3.0 hits 60 mph from a standstill in four seconds, which is very fast. The 2.0 does it in five, which will get attention from most cops. Both models are speed limited to 155 (or so) mph, to accommodate wide Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. Even at undisclosed speeds through undisclosed curves, this car sticks like a fly's feet in honey.
Both cars come with identical 8-speed transmissions. "Purists" complain that a manual is not available. Screw 'em. You can play with the paddle shifters if you like — and I did — but the logic and sensor inputs in these boxes are sharper than I ever was on my best day.
My advice, put it in "D," pay attention to the road and try to figure out what you're going to tell a trooper who happens to be filling out his paperwork when you fly by at some multiple of the speed limit.
"Hey, officer, at least I pulled over. Could you please remove your gun from my left ear?"
How's that sound? Just stick with contrite. Ok.
Suspension geometries of the two Supras are identical. While the Supra 3.0 is known to playfully sashay its rear under throttle in a turn, there is none of that with the 2.0. It ain't breaking loose, and even it did the vehicle control systems would gather it back up before the driver can notice.
I have no idea where the handling limits of this car are. I never came close to them.
Toyota backed off the braking capability in the 2.0, and that probably was not a good idea. It takes pretty much the same power to stop a 3,181-lb vehicle going 155 mph as it does a 3,400-lb one. I didn't try that, but at speed, the brakes felt soft.
Like a BMW, the Supra has a cabin that is well-appointed and there is strikingly little difference between a 3.0 cabin and a 2.0. The 3.0 has a powered driver's seat and upscale versions get nicer leather.
All said, the 2021 Toyota Supra appeals to my inner Goldilocks: Just the right amount of power. Just the right amount of space. It's a car I'd love to drive on a track.
But not every day.