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Should You Buy the 2021 Toyota Supra Six-Cylinder or Four-Cylinder? It’s a Tough Call

What might seem like a simple decision is anything but when it comes to choosing Toyota’s new sports car.

Conner GoldenWriterJade NelsonPhotographerDarren MartinPhotographer

For the first time in its 42-year history, the Toyota Supra is available with something other than an inline-six engine up front. Now, the so-called entry-level Supra 2.0 packs a potent little 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four in place of the prior naturally aspirated sixers found in older entry-level Supras. After driving both the updated 3.0-liter six-cylinder and the new 2.0 four-cylinder 2021 Toyota Supra models back-to-back, we liked the four-cylinder much more than we thought we would. That's right, fanboys—you can plug your ears, close your eyes, and chant "2JZ, 2JZ, 2JZ" as loud as you want, but the A90-generation Supra's tiny turbo-four is an excellent little package.

In fact, we had so much unexpected fun in the 2021 Toyota Supra 2.0, it had us debating which powertrain enthusiasts should realistically gravitate toward when it comes time to sign the dealership papers. So, if you're on the fence like we are, we put together a bit of a comparison to make that decision a little easier—or that much more difficult.

2021 Toyota Supra: Starting with the Specs

First, the cold, hard facts. Save some cash and stick with the Supra 2.0, and power comes from BMW's B48B20 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four, the same ubiquitous BMW four-pot heart you'll find in the Z4 sDrive30i—and in virtually every branch of the BMW family tree, including the 7 Series, 5 Series, and X3. In the Supra, the B48 spins out a stout 255 horsepower and 295-lb-ft of torque, managed by the ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission shared with the bigger, badder six-cylinder Supra. It shares the same top speed, too: Keep the go-pedal smashed against the firewall, and both Supras won't quit until you hit 155 mph. Zero-60 mph for the Supra 2.0 takes a snappy 5.0 seconds.

For the 2021 model year, the six-cylinder Supra 3.0 also gets some love. Now, a heart plucked from the BMW Z4 M40i pumps up both power and torque; the 3.0-liter B58M30O1 single twin-scroll turbocharged inline-six is capable of a mighty 382 hp and 369 lb-ft, up from the 2020's 335 hp and 365 lb-ft. With the same eight-speed transmission as both the older six-cylinder and the Supra 2.0, 0-60 takes a breathless 3.9 seconds on its way to that aforementioned Vmax of 155 mph.

It's not just a simple engine swap that separates the 2021 Toyota Supra's two trims, either. The Supra 3.0 hides a fair bit of additional adaptive and active hardware under its curvaceous bod. The 3.0 is the only way to get adaptive suspension and an active rear limited-slip differential, both being fixed or mechanical setups on the 2.0. Of course, to manage all that extra power, the 3.0 features larger four-piston front brakes to the 2.0's smaller single-pistons, plus larger wheels, and more aggressive tuning to the electric-power steering and chassis.

2021 Toyota Supra: Out on the Open Road

In practice, the differences go beyond "more power, less power, faster, slower." Toyota officially bills the Supra 3.0 as the one to pick for the track-day junkie—Toyota's words, not ours. On one hand, we can see where its coming from; we had an absolute blast with the 2020 Supra out on the Streets of Willow Springs road course during our most recent Automobile All-Stars, so much so that we crowned that slippery, lithe little coupe one of the winners.

The key word here is slippery—the 2020 Supra's eagerness to hang its rear out with little provocation divided judges. Some found the sideways antics imminently controllable and oodles of fun, while others disliked how on-edge the coupe seemed. Regardless, all praised the Supra's incredibly quick turn-in and potent straight-line scramble enough for it to sit pretty in the winner's circle.

With revised suspension, extra bracing up front, and a reworked active diff, the butt of the 2021 Toyota Supra 3.0 sticks a bit more, but it still feels rather on-edge at speed. The extra 47 hp doesn't help the stability, either, but don't let us fool you into thinking the 3.0 is nothing but a drift machine. Ass-out moments arrive gradually, and you're rewarded right up to the initial slip with impeccable chassis tuning and gobs of grip. You can cover large swathes of tight mountain roads very, very quickly in a Supra 3.0.

2021 Toyota Supra: Weight Matters

The same and more can be said for the 2021 Toyota Supra 2.0. With less junk under the front hood and no active suspension or differential, the 2.0 cuts an impressive 220 pounds compared to the 3.0. Couple that to 50/50 weight distribution without passengers, and the 2.0 is one of the sharpest sport coupes we've driven in the past few years. Compared to the somewhat hairy 3.0, the 2.0 is confidence in motion, with deep reserves of grip and unbeatable poise that aren't upset by overly aggressive inputs.

Really, short of a Porsche 718 Cayman, you won't find something as eager to divebomb tricky technical corners and carve out a canyon road quite like the Supra 2.0, and the Porsche wishes it possessed the same catchable rear-end. Out on a tight backroad, our smile was biggest in the Supra 2.0. You won't even be frustrated at a lack of power—performance of both the 2.0 and the 3.0 are slightly underrated from the factory. Once both undergo instrumented testing, we won't be surprised to see the 2.0 capable of a mid-to-high 4-second sprint—and that's way, way more than enough poke to have a whole heap of fun.

Certainly, we find it interesting Toyota bills the Supra 3.0 as the track car while labeling the 2.0 as a grand-touring sports car. The 3.0 arrives with power seats, adjustable suspension, upgraded sound system, and is available with coddling options like full leather upholstery and active safety systems. Meanwhile, the 2.0 is lighter and has fewer standard features, though with standard leather-trimmed seats, carbon-fiber trim, and the same 8.8-inch infotainment screen as higher-spec cars, it's hardly spartan.

2021 Toyota Supra: Time for a Decision

So, which 2021 Toyota Supra should you dump your cash for? It really does depend on your intended purpose. For something relegated for daily and/or occasional grand-touring duty, both the 2.0 and the 3.0 have merits; save some gas with the 2.0, but the 3.0's niceties and adaptive suspension are attractive. As a weekend treat, the 3.0 really is the one to pick, as the 2.0 can't beat its six-cylinder soundtrack and gut-punch acceleration.

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For backroad bombing and occasional track-day use, it's up to you. We had more fun in the 2.0 on the street with a more stable rear-end and effortless confidence, but we imagine long straights taking more time to cover than some might like, and we'll reserve full judgment for track manners until we get the chance to kick the 2.0 around one. The 3.0 was equally spectacular on backroads, though for different reasons; the six-cylinder is inarguably more exciting, both from a dynamic and accelerative standpoint, but that knife-edged personality might get old.

Here's the real answer: Drive both versions of the 2021 Toyota Supra and pick the one you feel most at home in. Do that, and you win no matter which one you drive off with.

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Which Supra Should I Pick?

  • Speed freak? Pick the 3.0
  • Backroad poise—2.0 reigns supreme
  • Weekend warrior—3.0
  • Unbeatable confidence—2.0
  • Can't decide? Don't worry, you can't lose
2021 Toyota Supra 2.0 Specifications
ON SALE: Summer
PRICE: $40,000 (est)
ENGINE: 2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/255 hp @ 5,000-6,500 rpm, 295 lb-ft @ 1,550-4,400 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
LAYOUT: 2-door, 2-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe
EPA MILEAGE:  N/A
L x W x H: 172.5 x 73.0 x 50.9 in
WHEELBASE: 97.2 in
WEIGHT: 3,181 lb
0-60 MPH: 5.0 sec
TOP SPEED 155 mph

 

2021 Toyota Supra 3.0 Specifications
ON SALE: Summer
PRICE: $50,000 (est)
ENGINE: 3.0L turbocharged DOHC 24-valve I-6/382 hp @ 5,800-6,500 rpm, 368 lb-ft @ 1,800-5,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
LAYOUT: 2-door, 2-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe
EPA MILEAGE:  24/31 mpg (city/hwy) (est)
L x W x H: 172.5 x 73.0 x 50.9 in
WHEELBASE: 97.2 in
WEIGHT: 3,400 lb
0-60 MPH: 3.9 sec
TOP SPEED: 155 mph