Today, Toyota announced the USA arrival of the 4-Cylinder Supra, for the 2021 model year. Comparing the I4-powered Supra to its closest domestic rival, the Chevrolet Camaro 2.0T 1LE, some interesting conclusions can be drawn.
Full disclosure: I daily drive & autocross a 2019 Camaro 2.0T 1LE and find the 4-Cylinder Supra to be a fascinating idea. I used to drive a 1991 Toyota MR2 as well. My qualifications as a Chevy/Toyota pundit don’t go much further than that.
But wait? Why compare an import to a so-called muscle car? The Camaro and Supra are statistically the closest competitors. Both are coupes in the low 3100-3300 pound weight range, and have 2.0-liter turbocharged RWD powertrains.
Seeing as the 2021 Toyota Supra has yet to be driven by the press, this comparison is solely based on existing statistics provided by Toyota and Chevrolet. On paper, the Camaro Turbo 1LE appears to be a worthy challenge:
Toyota Supra 2.o / Camaro 2.0T 1LE (best stats in bold)
Horsepower: 255 / 275
Torque: 295 / 295
Curb Weight: 3,181 lbs / 3,354 lbs
Weight Distribution: 50-50 / 50-50
Price: TBD / $31k
Seats: 2 / 4
Roof: Double-bubble / Double-bubble
Transmission: ZF 8-Speed Automatic / 6-Speed Manual
With similar-enough curb weights, advantage Supra, and identical peak torque outputs, straight-line acceleration will be close. Toyota’s claimed 5.0-second 0-60 time beats the Camaro’s time of 5.4 seconds, likely helped by the ZF 8-Speed automatic transmission.
Both of these sportscars offer only one transmission choice. The Camaro is manual-only, and the Supra is, sadly, automatic-only. Both of these, being enthusiast cars, would likely sell better if multiple transmission options were offered on each. “I want a track Camaro that I can drive comfortably in stop & go commuting” and “I want a stick-shift Supra” are currently unavailable.
The Camaro’s back seats are, legally, seats. Seatbelts are present, as well as side-curtain airbags. They are not, however, ethically, seats. This is a car that seats 4 adults, with great difficulty and for a very short time. It’s truly a 2+2 rather than a grand-tourer, so I’m inclined to consider the seating count a tie between the Camaro and the Supra.
Aside from the pedal count, where the Camaro’s 3rd pedal for clutch actuation gives it extra enthusiast cred, both cars are similar enough to compete mostly on subjective preference.
One factor in the Chevy’s favor is its track warranty, which covers racetrack & autocross use up to a point on stock 1LE-package Camaros.
Which of these is the better choice? In my opinion, it’s great that both exist. If you’re looking for a sporty car that can daily-drive but also dominate on a track, the 4-cylinder Camaro and Supra are both great choices. I can’t wait to see how the Supra drives.
Which would you choose? Or what other cars do you feel compete in this segment?