WE’VE all got misty-eyed memories of our first snog.
That girl from behind the bike sheds at school. The absolute beauty. The one that got away.
But your memory gets stuck in time.
When you see her again, she’s got a kid under each arm doing the Friday big shop at Aldi.
That’s a little how people feel about the new Supra.
There have been some lukewarm reactions because it is not the car-park hero it once was. It is now Japanese with German ingredients.
But honestly, what did they expect? This is 2019, with the EU fun police in the ascendancy.
It was never going to be the same. Toyota should be applauded for giving us the best it could and that is a punchy, 340hp, rear-drive, two-seat sports car cleverly pre-prepped for tuners. More on that later.
Just to fill in the blanks, Toyota axed the old Mk4 Supra in Britain in 1996 — 23 years ago. The economies of producing and selling low-volume cars meant Toyota had to do a deal with BMW in order to bring Supra back.
Especially if it wanted a Supra with a 3-litre straight-six engine. It was BMW or nothing.
STILL A LOOKER
So the Supra shares all of its innards with the BMW Z4 roadster — engine, eight-speed ZF transmission, underbodies, suspension, electronically controlled rear differential, dashboard, infotainment system and so on. They are built side by side at a factory in Austria.
Toyota used its own settings for the suspension and various electronic systems, adding its own instrument binnacle, seats and, of course, body shell.
But here’s the rub for the JDM tuning crowd.
It also left room for a bigger after-market turbo, blanked-off grilles for additional cooling, drilled holes for strut braces and added twin bonnet latches. Well played.
A bit more power, a bit less weight and this could be a truly special car.
So what’s it like to drive? OK, I’ll go ahead and say it. Like a BMW. It’s the other ultimate driving machine.
Lovely chassis balance, plenty of front-end grip, quick change of direction, drive it hard and that six-pot is a thing of great aural beauty.
You can hardly go wrong when all the basics are good — wide track, short wheelbase, low centre of gravity, stiff body, 50:50 weight distribution.
But what it does need is better brakes. They faded too quickly around Jarama — the old Spanish F1 circuit — and later on nearby mountain roads.
There’s another problem. You can’t get hold of one. All 300 cars allocated to the UK this year are sold and there’s already a waiting list for 2020.
Final thought. Would I buy one?
Probably not. If I had £50,000, I’d go Porsche 718 Cayman S. That’s another level in terms of handling. And then there’s the left-field Alpine A110, which is aggressively light.
Even so, it’s brilliant to see the return of Supra. It’s fast, fun and definitely still a looker.
Toyota Supra then and now
Here’s how the previous and current cars compare…
KEY FACTS: 1996 TOYOTA SUPRA
Price new: £37,500
Engine: 3 litre straight six
0-62mph: 4.6 secs
Top speed: 155mph
Rivals: Mazda RX-7, Nissan 300 ZX, Mitsubishi 3000 GT
KEY FACTS: TOYOTA SUPRA
Engine: 3 litre 6cyl turbo
Power: 340hp, 500Nm
0-62mph: 4.3 secs
Top speed: 155mph
Rivals: Alpine A110, Porsche 718 Cayman S
HONDA is taking £800 reservations for its retro electric city car called “e”. Be quick – more than 6,000 Brits registered an interest when it was revealed and supply will be limited. It’s seriously hi-tech (five screens across dash), rear-wheel drive and has a 120-mile range. Out March, around £33,000.
Disco Sport designed to please
THERE’S good design and then there’s great design.
Good design is something cool but ultimately useless. Like half the things at Ikea.
Great design is something cool but also very useful. Like an iPhone. Or a Disco Sport.
If you want a family SUV that’s tough, trendy, hi-tech and “responsible”, then check out this 2019 model. Most versions have a self-charging 48V mild hybrid system to cut emissions and improve economy and later this year there’ll be a plug-in petrol hybrid that’s even kinder to planet Earth.
As for picking up the kids from the Scout hut at midnight, it’s a Land Rover, silly. It works up to its door handles in sludge. It has all the 4×4 capability you’ll ever need.
The cabin is copy-and-paste new Evoque, which is fine, because that’s class.
That means recycled seat fabrics, twin screens, 4G wifi, Apple Car Play and all sorts of camera-based safety systems.
But the Disco Sport is better suited for big families as it has seven seats (the 40:20:40 middle row tilt and slide) and eight USB ports to keep everyone charged and happy.
The boot is decent too. Handy for those trips to Ikea.
Out now, priced from £31,575.
DISNEY SIGN WRITER
DID you know the UK has an official road sign designer? Her name is Margaret Calvert – OBE, no less.
I wonder how you end up in that line of work. My careers officer never mentioned it. Come to think of it, he never told me I could make a living arsing about in cars either.
Do a quick Google and you’ll find Margaret is a bit of a legend.
Together with Jock Kinneir she designed the road signing system we all grew up with – which was then copied worldwide.
Margaret has a quirky side, too. She’s teamed up with Disney to design road signs featuring Mickey Mouse, his missus Minnie, and Donald Duck. It’s all part of a scheme to get kids paying attention to road signs and what they mean from an early age, and it’s been done in tandem with road safety charity Brake.
It’s hoped they will inspire schools and nurseries to make their own signs to get nippers thinking about road safety, in turn nurturing a generation of careful drivers.
Research carried out by Brake found 82 per cent of parents are concerned about the speed of cars around their children, with 38 per cent of them saying it’s become too dangerous to walk their kids to school. More worrying, 35 per cent of parents say their kids don’t know the basics of stop, look and listen and think. Maybe it’s time for the Green Cross Code Man to return.
Margaret said: “The Disney designs are a fun take on my original ‘children crossing’ signs. I hope they help teach children important lessons of the road.”
You can download the Disney signs at brakezebras.org
Carpool without the Karoake
THE karaoke bit in James Corden’s Carpool Karoake is obvious – but what is this “carpool”? They’re designated lanes in the US for vehicles carrying two or more people to skip jams. There’s a move to bring them in here. I’m all for it. There’s a tiny one in Leeds, but let’s do it properly on the M25, M1 and M62.
Fastest Mini — ever
I’D put a fiver on this JCW Clubman being the fastest Mini ever. Let’s look at the evidence: 306hp, 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds, top speed 155mph, all-wheel drive, eight-speed paddleshift auto, fancy exhaust, big brakes. Out July, priced £34,250. Actually, I know it’s the fastest because Mini told me.
Belt-up for Love Island’s Josh
LOVE Island’s Josh Denzel on seat belts: “You’d wear a harness on a rollercoaster travelling at 70mph, so why risk being in a car without a seat belt?” Well said. Josh is fronting an awareness campaign for Direct Line after figures revealed one in four people killed on our roads in 2017 were not buckled up.