Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 12 November 2019

Toyota Supra returns after a 17-year break: it's back, and it's fast and furious

A new version of the car made famous by appearances on big (and small) screens has been revealed to an enthusiastic crowd at Yas Marina Circuit

Hardcore Toyota sports car fans can relax – the 2020 GR Supra has finally been unveiled, and it all happened before a packed house at Yas Marina Circuit. The new model appeared from behind a sash curtain amid flashing lights and a trio of exotic dancers. There were clearly fans in the room as the applause was considerable when the Supra’s red nose first poked its way through the bucketloads of dry ice that is obligatory on occasions such as this.

And it didn’t end there. Never one to be shy about showing off its wares, distributor Al-Futtaim Toyota proceeded to hand over the keys to a fleet of Supras when the music and lights stopped, giving the assembled media the chance to take the vehicles out for a spin on the Yas track.

So helmets were donned, traction control engaged (turning that off would have been an act of lunacy), and then off a series of corteges went, discreetly trundling out of the pit lane before screaming onto the north circuit.

The Supra was first launched in 1978, and it was popular from the off. Japanese manufacturers have a habit of creating zippy little sports cars, and this is a prime example of that particular genre. It went out of production in 2002, so this was a keenly awaited relaunch.

The new model does not disappoint with its spec. Under the bonnet sits a three-litre, six-cylinder engine that’ll give you 335hp. Flooring it will see you hitting 100kph in 4.3 seconds and, if you dare go that high, the GR will touch 250kph. You couldn’t go that fast on Yas’s north circuit, but nearing 200kph was possible on the straight – as long as you applied the brakes pretty sharpish before the ensuing hairpin. Totalling a car in front of its makers is never going to win you any friends.

That'll be what those anti-lock brakes are for.
That'll be what those anti-lock brakes are for.

And the price? Well, if you want one of these new GRs, you’ll have to part with Dh229,000 for the base model.

It’s low, this car. Getting in can be a job in itself, but once you’re inside the cabin it very much has the feel of an aeroplane cockpit. There’s little room for manoeuvre, but that’s just as well, because taking corners at speed in this machine comes with G-forces a-plenty. When you put your hands on the steering wheel, you’re going to need to hang on.

In fact, engaging in that very practice of zipping around bends can easily lead to drifting, and, aside from your own manic laughter when this happens, you’re going to want to keep your wits about you. It’s almost impossible to spin the GR with traction control engaged, but this doesn’t mean trying to do this is ever welcome or, indeed, advisable.

It’s not a pure-breed racing machine though. The GR is fine for everyday use. It has all the necessary gizmos, including an 8.8-inch central console with navigation and the like. As noted before though, it’s tight inside and close to the floor, so your favourite grandparent probably won’t be asking for a lift to the mall any time soon.

Even the engine is colour co-ordinated.
Even the engine is colour co-ordinated.

IMCDB, the Internet Movie Cars Database (yes, there is such a thing) tells us that the Supra has had rather more than its 15 minutes of fame in films and on TV. Most notably, a series of vehicles featured as repeat performers in the Fast And Furious movie series. The car’s appearances in the likes of Octopus 2: River Of Fear and Police Academy 6: City Under Siege are probably less well celebrated, but that’s perhaps only to be expected.

There was a real sense at expectation at the Abu Dhabi circuit prior to the unveiling ceremony. This is a car fans of the breed have been waiting for. Calling the Supra a motoring icon might be slightly overstating the case, but it’s certainly a well-loved vehicle and one which many fans are happy to see reintroduced after a 17-year hiatus. Future Fast And Furious producers are probably eyeing them up as we speak.

Updated: September 30, 2019 04:17 PM

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