From the Celica Supra to the mighty Mk IV
There’s no argument that the new 2020 Toyota Supra is quick. Powered by a 335-hp turbocharged inline-six that’s, ahem, shared with another automaker, Toyota’s 4.1-second 0–60 estimate might be conservative. We’ll find out when we get an A90 for testing soon, but in the meantime, let’s take a look back to see how far the nameplate has come. Over the years, we’ve tested the Supra more than 20 times, across generations and in various states of tune. We dug through our archives to highlight some of the numbers we’ve recorded for Toyota’s sports car—and although not all of them can be considered “quick” by today’s standards, they show the Supra’s performance journey. With that said, here are the quickest Supras we’ve ever tested, ranked by 0–60 time.
1979 Toyota Celica Supra – 11.5 seconds
At the time, Supra was a sport-oriented trim level for the Celica. Posting a 0–60 time of 11.5 seconds and passing through the quarter mile in 18.4 seconds at 74.6 mph (120 km/h), the 110-hp Mk I Supra was slower than the Datsun 280ZX we compared it against.
1982 Toyota Celica Supra – 8.4 seconds
In 1982 we reviewed the second-generation A60 against its A50 predecessor—and found improvements everywhere. “The new Supra is far from being a reskin of the old,” we said, and the numbers proved it: 0–60 in 8.4 seconds and a quarter mile of 16.6 seconds at 83.7 mph (134.7 km/h) represented a decrease of more than a second in each measure. Later in 1982 the Mk II beat out the BMW 528e to win our Import Car of the Year award.
1986 Toyota Supra Turbo – 6.9-7.8 seconds
The first turbocharged Supra we tested was (unsurprisingly) quicker, going from 0–60 in 7.8 seconds and finishing the quarter mile in 16.2 seconds at 89 mph (143.2 km/h). Soon, the Supra Turbo improved again: 0–60 in 6.9 seconds and a quarter mile time of 15.4 seconds at 91.8 mph (147.7 km/h) made it the quickest in our 1987 Import Car of the Year test. But by the late ’80s, the third-generation Supra was due for an upgrade, evidenced when we tested an ’89 model against its Toyota siblings, the MR2 Supercharged and the rally-inspired Celica All-Trac. Those less expensive cars were about two tenths slower than the Supra’s 7.8-second 0–60 run but actually quicker through the quarter mile.
1994 Toyota Supra – 6.9 seconds
BMW’s smooth and sonorous inline-six engines are the stuff of lore—but let’s not forget the Supra. In 1994, the fourth-generation car’s base naturally aspirated engine was surprisingly similar to the M3’s, with nearly identical bore and stroke, 20 fewer horsepower, but a 1,000-rpm-higher redline. In a comparison of those cars, we ultimately preferred the BMW, but that a humble Toyota was worthy of evaluation against it seemed praise enough for the Supra at the time. A telling preview, perhaps, of events that would transpire some 25 years in the future.
1988 Cartech Toyota Supra Turbo – 5.5 seconds
We don’t often test modified cars, but the changes applied by Dallas-based Cartech tuning were too good to resist. Featuring a turbo that was boost-adjustable between 6.7 and 13.0 psi, the 320-hp Cartech Mk III Supra hit 60 in 5.5 seconds and ran the quarter mile in 14.4 seconds at 101.3 mph (163 km/h). Cartech upgraded the suspension, too, yielding an “amazing” 0.95 lateral g.
1993 Toyota Supra Turbo – 5.4 seconds
Our first test of the iconic A80 generation thrilled us. We noted that the naturally aspirated base car was quicker to 60 and had a better power-to-weight ratio than the previous A70 Turbo model. But the performance of the A80 Turbo blew us away: 0–60 in 5.4 seconds, quarter mile in 13.5 seconds at 106.6 mph (171.5 km/h), and 0.98 g on the skidpad—respectable figures even for today. The Supra Turbo dominated its Japanese rivals in our comparison against the Mazda RX-7, Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4, Nissan 300ZX Turbo, and Acura NSX. Its 0–60 time was the best of the test, as was its quarter mile, skidpad grip, braking distance, and slalom speed.
1994 Racing Sports Akimoto Toyota Supra Turbo – 4.9 seconds
One could argue that the Supra’s modification potential is what makes it famous—and the Akimoto-tuned car we drove supports that status. An aluminum intake, 3.5-inch exhaust, and revised sequential turbos yielded 400 hp. That, plus new suspension springs and stickier rubber on centerlock wheels, let the car lap Streets of Willow in 1:02.46. The tuner car hit 60 in 4.9 seconds, a number that was, incredibly, matched by a few bone-stock Mk IV Supras. However, none could best the Akimoto’s 113.1-mph (182-km/h) quarter-mile trap speed.
1997 Toyota Supra Turbo – 4.9 seconds
The A80 Supra Turbo was one of the best sports cars of the ’90s. Full stop. Our staff tested it on 10 occasions between 1993 and 1997, collecting data that prove its performance. Zero to 60 was as low as 4.9 seconds, and quarter miles passed as quickly as 13.4 seconds at trap speeds up to 107.1 mph (172.4 km/h). For comparison, a Porsche 911 Turbo hit 60 in 4.4 seconds, and a Corvette ZR-1 dispatched the quarter mile in 13.6 seconds at 106.0 mph (170.6 km/h). Only a Ferrari 512TR’s lateral acceleration of 1.01 g was higher than the Supra’s sticky 0.98 g.