The Fast and the Furious-era Toyota Supra was perhaps the ultimate sleeper car. You could buy it for cheap, then build it into an absolute rocket. The bulletproof 2JZ inline-siz engine and stock components could handle, to use the technical term, a [expletive deleted]-ton of power. It was a car that could embarrass the owner of a European sports car who paid a much steeper price.
Toyota’s new 2020 Supra has its virtues, but no one would call it a sleeper. The new Supra not only commands European sports car owners’ attention — it is a European sports car. BMW designed its engine, and Magna Steyr is manufacturing it.
The new Supra also comes with a corresponding European-sports-car price tag. The base model Supra costs north of $50,000, and that’s if you can find a dealer who will honor the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. That’s expensive in its own right, and especially expensive if it’s the start of your build.
So if you admire the Supra but can’t afford one, consider its humble Toyobaru cousin, the Subaru BRZ (or its twin, the Toyota 86).
Buying a BRZ requires far less money than a Supra. The base model starts at $25,745. You can splurge for the comforts of the Limited trim and still come in under $30,000.
Like the Supra, the BRZ is a pure driver’s car. It’s a delightful-handling, rear-wheel-drive drift machine that wants you to push it to the rev limiter. (Sure, the BRZ has an underwhelming naturally aspirated 2.0-liter boxer engine putting out just 205 horsepower, but that just gives you more chances to push it to the limit.)
The BRZ is not the original Supra. You can’t add infinite power to the car without substantial upgrades. But you can add some with an ECU tune, new air intake and exhaust systems and the turbocharger its Japanese co-parents never gave it. Those additions would cost far less than than the $20,000 difference between it and the Supra.
Plus, adding a little power goes a long way with the BRZ. While the same rough size as the Supra, the BRZ is around 600 pounds lighter. It can’t match the Supra’s raw power, but it can deliver some everyday driving thrills.
Even on top of the cost difference, the BRZ has a few advantages over the Supra. There’s no speculating whether Toyota will ever offer a manual or handing your expensive car off to a third party to alter dramatically. The BRZ can have a manual transmission. The BRZ has a more restrained style than the sculpted Supra — a polite way to say that the BRZ is a better-looking car, even if it will get fewer people looking at it.
Another point for the BRZ, not entirely trivial to Japanese sports car enthusiasts: the BRZ is an actual Japanese sports car, designed and built in Japan.
The new 2020 Toyota Supra may be, as Formula 1 legend Fernando Alonso affirmed at its launch, “totally lit.” But the Subaru BRZ can offer ample fun at a far more affordable price — especially if you dip into the slightly-used market.
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