Over the last three days, we've been driving the Toyota GR Supra across France to the World Rally Championship season-opening Rallye Monte Carlo, on a mission to learn all about this amazing sports car and the GAZOO Racing performance brand behind it.
On the way, we’ve visited the historic pitlane at Reims, conquered the twisty, snowy mountain passes of the Hautes-Alpes, gone behind-the-scenes with Toyota GAZOO Racing in the Rallye Monte Carlo service park, and set the style in the heart of glamorous Monaco for the start of the rally itself – all while covering hundreds of miles of French autoroute in between.
At every point of the journey, the Toyota GR Supra has been both an impressive and faithful companion. With former rally driver and World Rallycross commentator Andrew Coley at the wheel, we’ve proved it’s a true modern grand tourer – light, powerful, responsive and confidence-inspiring on tight and vertiginous Alpine roads; stylish, cosseting and practical on long journeys and in-town.
You can follow our trip below. Plus, we’ll shortly be posting a behind-the-scenes video of our journey – so make sure to watch out for that.
Learn more about the Toyota GR Supra at toyota.co.uk/supra
05:30 Tuesday 21st January
It’s a cold January morning, but a new dawn is breaking for Toyota. We’re in Dover, with the keys to the Toyota GR Supra in our hand – ready to drive across Europe to join Toyota GAZOO Racing at Rallye Monte Carlo.
As Toyota founder Kiichiro Toyoda once said: “To test the durability and performance of their cars, companies ought to participate in auto races. Such races must not be regarded as a simple matter of curiosity. They are indispensable.” So, the idea of driving the GR Supra across Europe to one of the world’s most iconic motorsport events feels like an indispensable way to satisfy our curiosity about Toyota’s new GAZOO Racing performance brand.
06:30 Tuesday 21st January
As we wait for our ferry, there’s time to admire the GR Supra. This dramatic fifth-gen re-imagining of Toyota’s sportscar icon is perfect for this trip. As a two-seat, front-engine, rear-wheel-drive ‘grand tourer’, it boasts the sort of style that turns heads on the autoroute and the Riviera, as well as handling and power that thrill on winding Alpine roads. Inside, there’s room for a weekend’s luggage, behind a two-seat cabin that is as cossetting on long journeys as it is driver-focused on the twisty bits.
On the outside, the GR Supra offers a powerful modern take on classically pure sportscar style. Its low-slung profile – the long bonnet that masks a powerful straight-six 3.0-litre turbo blending into a pushed-back two-seat cabin with a double-bubble roof – is pure 2000GT. (Yes, that's the iconic 1960s sportscar that Toyota had to chop the top off in order to fit the daunting 6ft2in Sean Connery in You Only Live Twice).
The distinctive front grille evokes classic Supra styling, while the muscular haunches that frame the imposing 19” forged alloy wheels blend into a sharp-edged rear. Not all of the design decisions were about aggressive modern looks or iconic nods to the past, though. Each and every curve of the GR Supra has been designed to boost aerodynamic performance, with the double-bubble roof minimising drag towards the large flick-up rear spoiler, while also creating more headroom inside. Clever stuff.
07:00 Tuesday 21st January
Joining us on our journey to learn more about Toyota GAZOO Racing is former rally driver turned World Rallycross commentator Andrew Coley, who will act as our guide and all-round guru behind the scenes at Rallye Monte Carlo. As we graze the breakfast buffet on the ferry, fuelling ourselves for the journey ahead, perhaps the most pertinent question is: “What is GAZOO Racing”.