Tested: Modified 2021 Toyota Supra 3.0 Proves A Great Car Can Get Even Better


Tested: Modified 2021 Toyota Supra 3.0 Proves A Great Car Can Get Even Better

OpenFlash Performance gives the latest Supra six-cylinder more power and sharper reflections without sacrificing civility.

Tested: Modified 2021 Toyota Supra 3.0 Proves A Great Car Can Get Even Better
Tested: Modified 2021 Toyota Supra 3.0 Proves A Great Car Can Get Even Better

  • There is a small gas station in the California hills between Lake Elizabeth and Castaic. We know because we almost kissed the rest floor when we stopped to refuel Shiv Pathak's modified 2021 Toyota Supra
  • It's not that the Supra is cheap, it's that we enjoyed driving it so much that we didn't stop until necessary. This car turns corners into French fries - you always want more. 
  • Then again, until that quarter tank of fuel that seemed like more than enough for a quick spin around the neighborhood turns into fuel-efficient campfire miles from where you started.

Pathak's version of the Supra is subtly spicy. One has to look closely to notice any changes other than the Yokohama Advan A052 tires on 18-inch bronze wheels replacing the standard 19-inch Michelin wheels. Look closer, and you'll see dive planes up front sniffing their noses, and outback a dainty diffuser hanging below the exhaust. Simply changing tires makes the car a joy; The cushioning effect of the Advan's taller sidewalls and flycatcher smooths out bumps and smooths out corners. Match the engine to Pathak's claimed 500 hp and remove a slight steering drag from the original Supra and you have one irresistible big car.

  1. TREBLE: Soulful engine note, ballerina grace, tires as sticky as a bear in a beehive.
  2. BASS: A unique construction that includes the ECU tune that adds power; you are sold

TREBLE: Soulful engine note, ballerina grace, tires as sticky as a bear in a beehive.

It's a challenging effort to improve the Supra. There isn't a single C/D employee who doesn't like it right out of the box. It bulges with anticipation, like a car designed by the fifth-grader who drew superheroes with 12-pack abs. This 12-second race vehicle is powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six and can haul more than 1.00 g in the drift, but fuel efficiency remains in the high 20 MPG range (we got it). With our 2020 Supra 3.0, we get an average of 26 MPG over the long haul. It wasn't excellent enough to be flawless.

"When I got it, I didn't like it," he admits. "I didn't like the mushy bushings, and I didn't like the headset." More power was what I desired. (Editor's note: Shiv, you're a difficult man to please.) But I also didn't want to build a normal tuner vehicle with 900 horsepower that wasn't functional, heat concerns, and tight sway bars and springs. I simply wanted to do things that didn't put compliance, sound, or emissions at risk. I wanted it to look and feel like an original Supra, only better."

The resulting construction eliminates the minor stutter and looseness of the already good Supra and increases performance. He immediately springs forward with all the promise built into his muscular hips. Throw it into a corner, and it will appear right where you expect it to. If you miscalculate, you will be forgiven. "Easy to assemble," was how technical writer David Beard described it after putting it through its paces on our California test track.

 Compared to the test results of the stock 2021 Supra 3.0, Pathak's Supra took 0.02 g to drift (1.04 vs. 1.02) and a half-second each to 60 mph (3.3 seconds vs. to 3.8) and during the quarter-mile (11.6 seconds vs. 12.1). Its sticky tires also helped it stop quickly, stopping from 70 mph in just 147 feet, five feet shorter than the standard model. 

On the road it feels invincible, pulling hard through its rev range and responding to throttle commands like a trained dolphin, perched on its tail, hissing and ready to jump through hoops. If you can resist the lure of the Supra's high-rev oomph, it's also well suited to parking lot speeds. There are none of the potholes and bumps you would expect from a modified car. It looks like an original Supra, only better.

BASS: A unique construction that includes the ECU tune that adds power; you are sold

"You don't want the typical fast turbocar that only works on the track or the dyno," dice Pathak, whose company also worked on a Lamborghini Urus we tested. The "we" is OpenFlash, which is fair, but also SPL Parts and Verus Engineering, which loads non-ECU-related components, and purchases aerodynamic and suspension parts. 

The biggest con saw in Concord, CA, The Racers Line, doing the hard component installation. The creation of associations is common in these companies. "You don't want it touching any parts that might fall off," Pathak says, although he did manage to remove and reinstall a wheel, so we could see the SPL suspension parts better, and it's not fallen. Behind those wheels, the lightweight Apex EC-7R rollers, Pathak pointed out the upper and lower front SPL control arms and rear and rear links. Less pleasing to the eye, but spectacular for refining the car's fee on the road, where SPL's Teflon-coated adjustable ball bushings that replaced the stock rubber units.

Pathak beliefs changing the suspension rubber gives their build a quick response and consistent road feel. The rubber flexes and binds under hard cornering, acceleration, and braking, and runs through the steering wheel as spongy dead spots. When this sponginess is released, it can cause an unexpected mid-corner jerk or instability under braking. 

Stiffer springs and anti-roll bars are the usual tuner fix, but you're left with a relentless ride that'll hit you on all but the slipperiest of pavements. Pathak explains, "I learned that from the Ferrari 458." "It's my favorite automobile in the world, and Ferrari has put a lot of miles on it. They understood that employing very stiff springs necessitated extra stiff bushings and gussets, resulting in a race vehicle rather than a road car." You should offer a little, but only in predictable locations like the tire sidewall and suspension, not at component joints, he explains.

Something similar to engine tuning is needed, designed to provide the most noticeable drivability improvements without messing with the exhaust systems or causing overheating or reliability issues. Big numbers, like chunky roll bars, might impress on online forums, but it's consistent, a usable performance that makes you want to stay behind the wheel. Pathak says the Melody adds about 118 horsepower to the original Supra 3.0's 382, ​​with an emphasis on part-throttle responsiveness. It gives him so much willpower to get out of corners and makes him feel more powerful than he is.

The majority of OpenFlash Performance releases are created as test mules for client software updates. That was Pathak's intention originally with this Supra but was hampered by an ECU crash in mid-2021. "There are alternative solutions," he says, to overcome the car's electronic barriers, "but I wouldn't ask a customer." Instead, the Supra became a personal project car, allowing Pathak and his partners to work on their theory of combining comfort and performance to combat the impossible-to-drive tuner car stereotype. With his brilliant Supra back, Pathak moved on. This is an aircraft and modifications for the new Subaru BRZ and Toyota GR86. If we get the chance to drive them, we'll make sure to start with a full tank.

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