Toyota Supra's magical mojo comes to the fore even if you go slow
Fury and finesse with the Toyota Supra Whether you are hurtling down a track or zipping about in downtown traffic, the Toyota Supra comes across as crisp and taut. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Going by casual observations, the public likes the Supra better than it does its German cousin, the Z4 - two cars co-developed by Toyota and BMW respectively.

I test-drove the Z4 in July and the Supra early this week. The latter clearly got more stares and camera moments from passers-by.

This could well be attributable to the Supra's design, which is bold, unconventional and progressive. Those who do not quite like it - including me - might use another set of adjectives.

But like it or not, the Supra - which developed a cult following in the 1980s and 1990s - stands out for being different.

On the other hand, the Z4, as elegant and well-penned as it is, is not too dissimilar to the previous Z4.

The reason for the Supra's advantage in this area has to do with the fact that the previous Supra ended its run 17 years ago.

So, there is no recent comparison.

I first drove the current fifth-generation Supra in Japan in August, mostly on a race track. I found its performance and handling nothing short of amazing.

The car exceeded 200km/h within 700m and stuck to the tarmac religiously, even as centrifugal forces threatened to fling it towards the run-offs lining the many corners in the Sportsland Sugo circuit near Sendai.

In Singapore, there are not many opportunities to re-enact those antics. Even so, the Supra comes across as crisp and taut - qualities which pave the way for driving enjoyment, whether you are hurtling down a track or zipping about in downtown traffic.

Its BMW-sourced turbocharged inline-six delivers its 340hp and 500Nm in generous and predictable doses. Its exhaust plays a rich and soulful tune to accompany the progress, which is decidedly urgent, but not frenzied.

The car is most delightful in Sport mode, in which sound and fury are dialled up a notch to give you that pore-opening sensation associated with endorphins.

The Supra's accelerative power is dizzying. But it is the car's kart-like response to steering input which makes its ballistic performance all the more tasty.

With a short wheelbase, wide tracks and low centre of gravity, the Supra is made for the automotive dance floor. Being a coupe, it also benefits more from this foundation for fun than the slightly taller and heavier soft-top Z4.

The Toyota two-seater is effortless to drive hard and fast. But the best thing is you do not have to drive it hard and fast to appreciate its agility and precision.

Its graceful and coherent chassis comes to the fore even if you are tooling about at 60km/h. And you will still get to soak in its aural playback at this speed if you pick Sport mode.

In fact, tyre and road noises start to mask the exhaust note from 90kmh. You tend not to notice this when you are trying to go as fast as you can on the track.

What remains noticeable is that the Supra's interior, although extensively shared with the Z4's, has a slightly better fit and finish.

Displays are also a tad more legible and seats more supportive. You get wireless phone charging too.

It being priced substantially lower than the Z4 is cherry on the icing.