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Germany's foremost BMW tuner gets to grips with the latest Supra
26 December 2020

What is it?

Despite several notable virtues, the Toyota GR Supra is not the sharpest-handling or quickest device in the circa-£50,000 sports car clique. 

Toyota may yet remedy this itself. Indeed, we very much hope it will. But in the meantime, the new Supra’s Bavarian roots (the hardware is mostly shared with the Z4) have left Germany’s pre-eminent BMW tuner unable to resist tinkering. And the result is an unambiguous improvement, if also an expensive one.

AC Schnitzer's menacing package for the Supra costs £20,000 if you go for everything. Bodywork, chassis, powertrain: there are plenty of aftermarket avenues to explore.

However, the most salient element of the kit is the ‘piggyback’ ECU that takes BMW’s 3.0-litre B58 straight-six from 335bhp to 395bhp and from 368lb ft to an eyebrow-raising 443lb ft. Straightaway that makes the Supra look a little less benign on paper, and brings the package closer to the car's 400bhp+ rivals.  

But AC Schnitzer also fits bespoke coilover suspension supplied by KW. It's manually adjustable for both bump and rebound, and drops the ride height by 30mm, so there’s no confusing AC Schnitzer’s take on the Supra with the original product, even at a glance. 

The car we drove also wore Schnitzer’s 21in wheels, which, despite their size, save around 3kg per corner compared with the regular 19in items. They also look surprisingly good in the metal, which is something even traditionalists would have to admit, with an increase in negative camber signalling extra intent.

Stick to the engine, suspension and wheels and your outlay will be around £10,000 – by forgoing the sports exhaust system and carbonfibre body addenda, including the new wing and front splitter.

What's it like?

The most obvious improvement over the regular car is that, while the firmer suspension doesn’t completely cure the problem, the sense that the standard Supra’s initial steering response is too quick for the body’s more relaxed roll movements has mostly disappeared. 

Combine this with greater body control across the board and you have a car that’s more immediate and confidence-inspiring, and not just at the limit of adhesion. 

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The aim hasn’t been to transform the Supra into an edgy, prickly thing designed to induce sweaty palms, and it’s for that reason that you still get the same gentle understeer balance and obvious weight transfer through direction changes. 

However, the dynamic package is simply more coherent. Which is handy, because with so much more torque, AC Schnitzer’s Supra feels if not quite BMW M2 Competition quick then at least coat-tails close, and superbly tractable at all times. It’s a very fast car, and a very stable one, too.   

Elsewhere, you’ll find that the steering weight, despite no changes to the EPAS tuning, ebbs and flows a little more naturally, and the brake-pedal response is subtly softer and feels less servo-assisted. 

Both are likely the result of the switch to larger but lighter wheels, and AC Schnitzer’s decision to stick with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber means playfulness hasn’t been ritually sacrificed for speed. With the extra torque it's easier to tease the car slightly out of line, though equally, this isn't something that's likely to happen unless you want it to.  

Impressively, ride quality also seems to have improved, although the caveat here is that the German Landesstraße routes we drove on are kept in uncommonly good nick.

They really are race-track smooth, although like Alpina, AC Schnitzer has a habit of delivering suspension compliance completely out of whack with the huge size of the wheel it fits, so I wouldn’t bet against this Supra riding almost equally well in Britain.

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Should I buy one?

Schitzer's modifications shift the Supra's character to something more steely, enjoyable and convincing, which is exactly what you would expect from this particular tuner. 

And of course the fact that the Supra’s original ECU is retained wholesale also means the engine can continue to be serviced by Toyota, while all the additional parts are warranted by AC Schnitzer. 

But of all the modifications, the KW suspension makes most sense, not only because it works brilliantly but also because if it’s power you want, reputable British tuner Litchfield will liberate even more from this 3.0-litre engine, and do it for far less than the £4000 AC Schnitzer asks. 

And ultimately, this car still wouldn’t tempt us out of an M2 Competition, although AC Schnitzer’s alterations bring the Supra closer to – and in some ways surpass – what it should have been originally, if you’ll excuse the cliché.

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Comments
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NoPasaran 27 December 2020

Since the release seen one on the street in Switzerland. Not popular at all.

jason_recliner 28 December 2020
NoPasaran wrote:

Since the release seen one on the street in Switzerland. Not popular at all.

Eh?

NoPasaran 28 December 2020

In rich Switzerland, in rich northern part of it, where buying a car is not considered an event, where Taycans/TurboS/Lambos/AMs/Ferraris/AMGs(especially G63AMGs), not to mention all kind of Ms are on every corner, where cars for sale priced at 200-400k stand on streets all year round, where Supra is an affordable coupe, they are nowhere, I have seen only one. I have seen lots of M2/M2C though. This affordable Toyota is not popular here, not with older generation, not with younger generation (who rather go for M2/M4/M5).

Personally would not buy "Supra" for two reasons, 1) very impractical inside, like i said, pillbox visibility; 2) you know you drive a BMW, well, then rather get a more usable, more practical and more resolved BMW M2.

BlahBlah43 26 December 2020
So it costs nearly as much as a Cayman GT4 or more than a Cayman GTS 4.0? Thats a tough sell
si73 26 December 2020
Still looks awesome though, and whilst the Cayman may be the sharper tool, that the Supra isn't a Cayman and that it's another alternative is great, just needs a manual option for the icing on the cake as to me the styling is already spot on and I'm certain I wouldn't be disappointed with the drive.
NoPasaran 27 December 2020

Sit inside Supra and it is a cave feeling. Can't see out of it, low windows, wide sills. M2C over this any day, not to speak of Cayman GTS/GT4.

jason_recliner 28 December 2020
BlahBlah43 wrote:

So it costs nearly as much as a Cayman GT4 or more than a Cayman GTS 4.0? Thats a tough sell

Yes, but this looks brilliant, isn't a VW, the price includes tuning, and it's STILL more affordable than a Gayman.  Game set and match Toyota.

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