2020 Toyota Supra Is Great But The 86 TRD Brings The Driver More Joy

With the launch of the 2020 Supra, fans of Toyota sports cars are suddenly faced with a difficult choice: get the more expensive and more powerful Supra or the more affordable and lighter 86.

On the surface, this doesn’t seem like a dilemma at all since the Supra is better than the 86 in every measurable aspect. However, when Engineering Explained’s Jason Fenske had the opportunity to drive the 86 TRD at the Supra launch he suddenly realized that the cheaper, lower-powered Toyota is actually more fun to drive.

Also watch: How Does Toyota’s 86 Stand Now That The Supra’s Here? Well, It’s Still Fun, But…

Much to his own surprise, he says the Toyota 86 is actually the car that made him smile the most as he drove the two vehicles back to back at Summit Point Motorsports Park. How could this be? For starters, the 86 TRD is the lighter car — by about 560 pounds (254 kg). Then there’s the six-speed manual transmission, something the Supra doesn’t (yet) offer.

While extremely capable, the Supra’s eight-speed automatic gearbox just can’t compare with the 86’s manual transmission when it comes to driver involvement. Interestingly, the reviewer says the steering is also better in the Toyota 86 and that’s partly due to the fact that it has a lower ratio and is less assisted than the Supra.

There’s also a less obvious reason, the fact that visibility is much better in the 86, giving the driver more confidence to go fast. There are more reasons as to why the 86 is more fun to drive than the Supra and the video reveals all of them by breaking down each of the cars.


  • ejd1984

    This is really tell. The 1987 Supra is nearly on par with the 2019

    Motor Trend:

    Toyota was once more daring

    The A70 Supra, launched in 1986, was a Toyota that truly took your breath away. Its predecessors—the A40 and A60 Supras

    The 3.0-liter twin-cam straight-six under the hood, codenamed 7M-GE and developing 200 hp and 196 lb-ft, boasted a variable induction system. The multi-link suspension front and rear was damped by electronically controlled shocks. The brakes—11.9-inch diameter front and 11.5-inch rear—were among the biggest fitted to a mainstream production car anywhere in the world at the time.

    The A70 was more a GT than a tightly wound sports car—compared with the 2020 Supra it was 9.4 inches longer overall and had a 5.0-inch longer wheelbase—but it steered precisely, was nicely balanced, gripped well, and that naturally aspirated twin-cam straight-six revved joyously to 6,500 rpm as you worked the five-speed manual transmission.

    Car Australia test numbers show the manual A70 to have been virtually as quick as today’s eight-speed auto Supra to 60 mph—4.2 seconds versus 4.1 seconds

    • Honda NSX-R

      I call BS on the last paragraph

      • DMax

        Yeah 4.1 sec in 80s was Ferrari F40 territory. More like 6.1 seconds if stars aligned correctly. Motortrend’s quality is on slippery slope it seems.

        • Honda NSX-R

          If they said 0 to 60 kmph rather than 0 to 60 mph I’d believe them

      • Bo Hanan

        Agree. Not even 4.1 secs if it were energetically driven.

  • Loquacious Borborygmus

    when Engineering Explained’s Jason Fenske had the opportunity to drive the 86 TRD at the Supra launch he suddenly realized that the cheaper, lower-powered Toyota is actually more fun to drive.
    Uh-oh! The haters will be along shortly to explain why this is just plain wrong and that the 86 is a worthless piece of sh*t.

    • SteersUright

      As a street car, it blows. Its only fun when wringing the living snot out of it and on a track or empty mountain road. Day to day, it has no power anywhere, totally lacks refinement, and just sucks to drive.

      • Loquacious Borborygmus

        I thoroughly enjoyed my three years with a BRZ. Granted that hole in the torque was annoying but it was still a brilliant car to drive. Lacks refinement? Well, it wasn’t meant to be a long distance cruiser.
        Perhaps not a car that a lot of Americans would “get”.

        • bedazzler

          I had a 2014 FR-S and I now have a 2017 86 and I have to say that the torque hole is slightly less noticeable with the revised gear ratios on manual.

  • Rzrlf

    Incoming “NeEDs MoRE pOWwwweEErRr” comments

    • dumblikeyou2

      NeEDs MoRE pOWwwweEErRr

  • Mr. EP9

    Was it because one had a manual? Yes? No?

    • Honda NSX-R

      One of the reasons, yes.

      • ksegg

        I can’t wait until Toyota brings back the 2000GT.

        • Honda NSX-R

          I doubt they’ll bring that back lol, that’d be awesome though

          • ksegg

            I think you failed to recognize my sarcasm. 🙂

          • Honda NSX-R

            Sorry sometimes I can’t detect sarcasm online

  • LJ

    Of course the Subaru is more fun to drive than the Bimmer.

  • SteersUright

    Makes sense, the Subaru is so much lighter and that’s always going to be more fun on a track. Also, the Supra, like any BMW these days, is not only fat, its rather muted by soft rubber throughout the suspension which does wonders for streetability but, also numbs the car significantly. Lastly, no manual or DCT is a true shame. Day to day, I’d take the Supra any in a second, over the BRZ. For track fun? Probably not.

  • Six_Tymes

    so weird to me that Toyota created perfection with the previous generation, and failed on this.

  • Honda NSX-R

    The Zupra is RWD too

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