Sports Cars

2020 Toyota Supra vs. BMW Z4, Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang and Nissan 370Z

How does Toyota's resurrected icon compare with other sports car legends?

Toyota

It seems like everyone on the internet has an opinion about the 2020 Toyota Supra, and for good reason. It's a storied nameplate that resonates deeply with driving enthusiasts the world over. For such a sought-after sports car to return after a long break from the US market, there's a lot of passionate armchair commentary flying around.

Let's balance that out with hard numbers to see how the Supra stacks up with the likes of its BMW Z4 platform-mate, as well as how it compares with the Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang GT (optioned with Performance Package Level II) and the Nissan 370Z Nismo.

Engine and transmission

Since the inception of the Supra nameplate in 1979, the sports coupe has always been powered by an inline six-cylinder. That remains true for the new model, but with a controversial caveat: the engine is supplied by BMW. Still, the turbocharged engine makes 15 more horsepower and 50 more pound-feet of torque than the previous Mark IV Supra Turbo. Even so, it's a little weaker than the rest of the cars in this comparison.

To add insult to injury -- especially for fans of manual transmissions -- the Supra will initially only be offered with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The same goes for the Z4. There are rumors of an eventual three-pedal setup, but for now, that's all they are -- rumors.

In stark contrast, you can only get the Performance Package Level II Mustang with a six-speed manual. The Chevrolet Corvette is one of the few production cars in the world that offers a seven-speed stick shift, but you get an extra gear if you opt for the automatic. Nissan's aging Nismo 370Z also gives you the choice between a manual or automatic, but with a conventional six-speed unit if you want to row your own, and seven speeds with its automatic.

Engine and transmission comparison

Vehicle Engine Power (hp) Torque (lb-ft) Transmission
Toyota Supra 3.0-liter turbo I6 335 365 8-speed automatic
BMW Z4 M40i 3.0-liter turbo I6 382 369 8-speed automatic
Chevrolet Corvette 6.2-liter V8 460 465 7-speed manual/8-speed automatic
Ford Mustang GT Performance Package Level II 5.0-liter V8 460 420 6-speed manual
Nissan 370Z Nismo 3.7-liter V6 350 276 6-speed manual/7-speed automatic

Performance

The Supra lays down solid performance numbers, but according to official automaker estimates, it's actually one of the slower cars in this grouping. The BMW Z4, with its extra power and torque but similar weight, beats the Supra by 0.2 seconds to 60 miles per hour. The quickest car here is the Chevrolet Corvette. Its stomping LT1 V8 is a lot more powerful, yet rather remarkably, it has about 100 fewer pounds to lug around.

Because it's significantly larger (including a somewhat usable backseat), the Ford Mustang is a lot heavier than the other cars here. However, it makes prodigious power and dispatches it to the road effectively with sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. The Nissan may have 15 more horsepower than the Supra, but with a torque deficit of 89 pound-feet, it would likely post the slowest 0-60 time if Nissan gave out official 0-60 numbers.

Performance comparison

Model 0-60 accel (sec) Top speed (mph) Curb weight (lbs.)
Toyota Supra 4.1 155 3,397
BMW Z4 3.9 155 3,443
Chevrolet Corvette 3.7 181 3,298
Ford Mustang GT Performance Package Level II 3.9 155 3,705
Nissan 370Z Nismo 4.7 (est.) N/A 3,457

Styling

I think the Supra looks fine overall, but I do find it overstyled a bit (blame all those fake vents). For my money, the fourth-generation Supra from the '90s was simpler in design, yet more impactful. The 2020 Supra, by comparison, looks like it's trying too hard. The Z4 has more fetching flanks and an appealing rear section, but the front is almost too frog-eyed.

I still haven't developed fond feelings for the C7 Corvette's rear end, but it's handsome everywhere else. The Mustang's muscle-car features make it stand out among these more purpose-built sports cars, but still, it looks great with its careful mix of modern and retro styling.

The 370Z Nismo, to me, is easily the least attractive car in this bunch. I'm put off by its boomerang headlights and taillights, but I mostly take issue with its bottom-feeder front end. The standard 370Z's nose doesn't look as offensive to me, fortunately.

The Supra's interior isn't bad, but there's clearly a lot of BMW within. My biggest issue lies with the steering wheel's horn pad, which seems too large and plain-looking. The Z4's interior is better executed, with more contrasting brightwork that lends to a better-finished look.

The Corvette is getting on in years, but its wraparound cockpit still looks great and remains refreshing to behold. That's particularly impressive considering generations of Corvettes featured interiors with laughably cheap materials.

The current S550-generation Mustang stepped its interior game up significantly in 2015. Its design is retro, but the update has helped it age more gracefully.

The 370Z's interior, on the other hand, looks as dated as it actually is. I don't think the Nissan is a bad-looking place to be, but the cabin -- along with the rest of the car -- is long overdue for a redesign. It's been on the market since 2009.

Tech and safety

The new Supra offers limited cabin standard tech, with a modest 6.5-inch display controlled by a version of BMW's iDrive rotary dial. The BMW Z4 is better equipped, featuring a 10.25-inch display controlled via iDrive knob or by touching the screen. Complementing the Bimmer's display is a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.

The Corvette may be one of the older cars in this gathering, but it's no slouch in the cabin tech department. Standard features include 4G LTE Wi-Fi, plus an 8-inch touchscreen that works with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Ahead of the driver also sits an 8-inch display. Satellite radio comes standard, as well, while a nine-speaker Bose audio system envelops the driver and passenger.

When you opt for the Mustang's Performance Pack Level II specification, Ford requires a tech upgrade with that package. As a result, you get an 8-inch Sync 3 touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as a nine-speaker stereo, satellite radio and a 4.2-inch instrument cluster display.

Because the Nismo sits at the top of the Z range, you get premium features like embedded navigation on a 7-inch touchscreen, along with an eight-speaker Bose audio system, satellite radio and DVD video playback capability (how's that for a throwback?).

The Supra excels with its standard driver-assistance tech. It includes pedestrian-detecting collision-mitigation auto brake, lane-departure warning and road sign recognition. The Z4 comes standard with all of that, except road sign recognition is optional.

The Corvette and Nismo 370Z offer no advanced driver-assistance systems. In base Performance Pack Level II guise, the Mustang matches the Chevy and the Nissan. However, the Mustang can be optioned with pedestrian-detecting automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and rain-sensing wipers.

Pricing

Aside from standard advanced driver assist systems, the 2020 Toyota Supra doesn't really stand out in this tale of the tape. Buyers will appreciate that it comes equipped off the bat with some of the latest driver safety systems, but for most buyers, safety isn't really top of mind -- performance-number bragging rights are. When you factor the Supra's performance numbers with its price, it doesn't appear to set any new standards among sports cars available around this general price point.

If you want to be among the first to own a Supra this summer, that price point will be higher. The first 1,500 will be Launch Edition cars based on the Supra's top 3.0 Premium trim, and they'll command $56,180, including destination.

With the Mustang and 370Z, you can save thousands while still generating more impressive numbers. For just $815 more than the Launch Edition Supra, you can get a base Corvette Stingray that's lighter, more powerful and equipped with more cabin tech. The Z4 M40i could stand to shed a few thousand off its base price, but it might be a good choice for someone who isn't impressed with the Supra exterior and/or interior, or, inevitably, for badge-conscious buyers.

Pricing comparison

Vehicle Price (incl. destination)
Toyota Supra $51,850
BMW Z4 M40i $65,690
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray $56,995
Ford Mustang GT Performance Package Level II $44,950
Nissan 370Z Nismo $46,585

With all this in mind, it really will come down to how the new Supra drives. Luckily, Roadshow's Editor-in-Chief, Tim Stevens got a crack at a prototype version, and in his brief experience with the car, he was pleased with it. That said, it was an early model, so to quote his words, "Further testing is required."

As soon as we have some time at the wheel of a production-representative Supra, we'll have a better sense of whether its driving manners can bolster its relatively ordinary numbers.