2021 Toyota Supra 3.0 vs 2.0: Which Serves More Racetrack Smiles?

Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Premium vs. GR Supra 2.0 article highlights:

  • The four-cylinder 2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 is less powerful and less well-equipped than the six-cylinder 3.0 Premium, but it’s lighter and cheaper
  • Both 2021 Toyota Supra models were fun to drive around the Road America racetrack
  • In terms of outright fun factor, though, the four-cylinder Supra beats the six-cylinder one

Although the 2021 GR Supra’s BMW roots don’t matter in the end, Toyota introduced another point of contention this year. That’s the GR Supra 2.0, the first four-cylinder model in the nameplate’s history. Yet while the Supra twins have some notable differences under the skin, they’re nigh identical from the outside. They’re just as similar on the inside, too. So, picking between them boils down to how they drive.

That’s exactly what I did recently at Wisconsin’s Road America racetrack. And while I enjoyed my time lapping both 2021 Toyota GR Supra models, one left me with a bigger grin than the other.

2021 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Premium2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0
Price Range$54,490 (base)
$56,680 (as tested)
$42,990 (base)
$47,895 (as tested)
Engine3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower382 hp255 hp
Torque368 lb-ft295 lb-ft
TransmissionEight-speed automatic Eight-speed automatic
Curb Weight3400 lbs3181 lbs
0-60 MPH Time3.8 seconds (Car and Driver)4.5 seconds (Car and Driver)

2021 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Premium

A red 2021 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Premium next to a yellow 2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0
2021 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Premium (left) next to a 2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 | Matthew Skwarczek, MotorBiscuit
  • Pros: More standard features, more powerful engine, quicker steering, bigger brakes
  • Cons: Stiffer springs, heavier, more expensive, louder exhaust

No, the Toyota GR Supra 3.0 doesn’t have a manual or the Mk4’s famously-stout 2JZ engine. However, it’s lighter and more powerful than the Mk4. And for 2021, the six-cylinder Supra gets some subtle but notable upgrades.

Firstly, thanks to some upgraded internals, software changes, and a new exhaust manifold, the 2021 GR Supra 3.0 is more powerful than the 2020 model. Toyota also revised the power steering, tweaked the adaptive dampers, and re-tuned the active differential and stability control programming, MotorTrend explains. Finally, it fitted new bump stops and aluminum braces.

As in 2020, the 2021 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 is available in two trims: base and Premium. The latter is $3500 more but gets some extra features, detailed below.

2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0

The rear view of a red 2021 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Premium next to a yellow 2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0
2021 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Premium (right) next to a 2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 rear | Matthew Skwarczek, MotorBiscuit
  • Pros: Lighter, cheaper, comfier ride, more tire sidewall
  • Cons: Slower, fewer features, 4-speaker standard audio system

As noted earlier, the Toyota GR Supra 2.0 is new for 2021 and is now the sports car’s lowest trim. That means it doesn’t have all the Supra 3.0’s performance features, nor some of its luxury ones. It also has smaller front brakes and 18” wheels instead of 19” ones.

However, while the 2021 GR Supra 2.0 is less powerful than the six-cylinder model, it’s also noticeably lighter. It also has the same body, minus some minor trim color differences. And though the GR Supra 3.0 has more premium interior touches, the Supra 2.0’s interior looks near identical. It has the same amount of space, too.

Plus, the four-cylinder Supra benefits from the same upgrades Toyota gave the six-cylinder model. Also, while the 2021 Supra 2.0’s tires have more sidewall, their contact patches are the same size as the 3.0’s patches, Roadshow notes. So, because both models have the same suspension setup as well, they have equal traction levels.

2021 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Premium vs 2.0: Features

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The performance feature differences between the 2021 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 and 2.0 can best be summed up as ‘electronic vs. mechanical.’ For example, although both Supras have limited-slip differentials, the 3.0 has an active one while the 2.0’s LSD is mechanical. The Supra 2.0 also has fixed dampers, not active ones, and manually- instead of power-adjustable seats.

Speaking of the seats, they’re leather-upholstered and heated on the 2021 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Premium. The Premium trim also gets a 12-speaker (rather than a 10-speaker) JBL sound system, full-color heads-up display, navigation, wireless charging, and Brembo brakes. Apart from the navigation, none of these features are available on the Supra 2.0. And while the four-cylinder cylinder has the same 8.8 center screen as the 3.0 models, it’s not a touchscreen. That costs extra, as does Apple CarPlay.

However, the 2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 does get some other welcome performance and safety features. It has multiple driving modes, for example, as well as an active exhaust, paddle shifters, and launch control. Furthermore, it comes standard with lane-departure warning, automatic high beams, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.

It also has rain-sensing wipers, which came in handy during my sprinkle-filled track session at Road America.

Driving the Supras at Road America

An overhead view of the Road America facility
Road America overhead | Road America

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I started off driving the 2021 Toyota GR 3.0 Premium around Road America’s 14-turn, 4.048-mile track, followed by the Supra 2.0. Keep in mind, I wasn’t racing—this was purely to sus out these cars’ strengths and weaknesses. And I only had one lap to do it, though I could’ve easily driven both until their tanks ran dry. Still, that one lap was enough to make several things clear.

Firstly, those complaints about wind buffeting? Validated. There’s a significant thumping boom in the cabin if you roll the windows down. Secondly, even with the weight disadvantage, the six-cylinder Supra is noticeably faster everywhere, especially in the straights. And thirdly, the Supra 2.0 isn’t just ‘good enough.’

If I was going to lap Road America again, it’s the one I’d take.

2021 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Premium vs. Supra 2.0: Track driving

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The 2021 Supra 2.0’s steering is just as accurate and communicative as the 3.0’s steering, and as noted earlier, its tires grip just as hard. And on Road America’s smooth surfaces, the lack of adaptive dampers didn’t make a difference. Neither did having ‘just’ a mechanical LSD. Around this track, the four-cylinder Supra felt just as planted as its six-cylinder sibling, only rolling slightly more over some undulations.

Also, because both cars have the same eight-speed automatic, they both shifted quickly and crisply whether I used the paddles or let the computers do it. Admittedly, it’s difficult to evaluate brake fade over one lap, especially on a cool day. So, I didn’t experience the repeat-lap brake fade that Car and Driver got in the Supra 2.0 but not the 3.0.

However, the 2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 has a big advantage over the 3.0: its engine. Yes, you have to work harder to keep up with the Supra 3.0 and pay more attention to your RPMs and shift points. But that just makes you more involved in the driving process. And that’s precisely what you want in a fun sports car. The Supra 3.0 is powerful and stable enough that going fast feels almost too easy. You have to earn it in the Supra 2.0—and you feel more accomplished once you do.

In addition, because the four-cylinder engine is lighter than the inline-six, the 2021 Supra 2.0 has less weight over its nose. Thus, it not only feels nimbler overall—because it weighs less, period—but it’s easier to turn in and aim around corners. It’s spritely, chuckable. In short, grin-inducing.  

Which Supra will leave you with a bigger grin?

To be fair, those chasing outright lap times will want the 2021 Toyota GR Supra 3.0. It’s not only faster in a straight line, but it ran Car and Driver’s Lightning Lap nearly 10 seconds faster than the 2.0. And there are some comfier, roomier sports car options if street driving is more your speed.

Still, after my Road America sessions, I didn’t want more time with the 3.0. I wanted to get back out in the four-cylinder model. It’s not perfect, but the level of involvement it offers puts it ahead of the 3.0 in my book. And $8785 buys quite a few driving lessons.

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