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. 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, 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 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. 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. Only a Ferrari 512TR’s lateral acceleration of 1.01 g was higher than the Supra’s sticky 0.98 g.
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