Outside of the world of BMW obsession, there are probably very few people comparing or much less even cross-shopping the the current Z4 and Toyota Supra. But, considering we’re exactly that—BMW obsessed—we can’t help but be intrigued by changes involved with selling a vehicle that is BMW-engineered almost through and through with a Toyota emblem on the front end. A few weeks ago, we gave our take on Motortrend‘s M2 Competition versus Toyota Supra GR hot lap comparison video, which revealed that the cars were almost identically matched on track, while the M2 Competition proved notably more composed.
As we also happened to note in that article though, most BMW buyers are likely comparing the Z4 M40i and the M2 Competition. Now that reviews and comparisons of how the development stablemates actually drive have hit the Internet though, our attention has once again turned to the Z4 and Supra. Yes, the Z4 M40i is specced with the most powerful version of the B58 turbo six, and yes, it starts at nearly $15,000 more than the Supra, but road manners may be where these two are truly differentiated.
In a recent in-depth comparison of a 2020 Toyota GR Supra and a BMW Z4 M40i of the same model year conducted by Car and Driver, some interesting finding came to light. Looking beyond the obvious differences in price, power, luxury, and the presence of a metal roof on the Supra, both cars, which are unquestionably BMWs at their core, exhibited markedly different personalities when put through their paces on the road. It doesn’t come from where you might expect, either. The Supra might be down on power, if ever so slightly, but the deficit is offset by the convertible Z4 weighing in at approximately 150 pounds more.
It must be in the more finite elements, then, right? The valving of the dampers, firmness of the bushings, and, of course, all of the electronic parameters for the engine, transmission, and chassis? This assessment seems fair, because while both cars exhibit exceptional—and evenly-matched—road-holding capability around a skidpad, it is the Toyota that Car and Driver describes as going about its business with a touch more spirit.
And this is where the conundrum arises. BMWs of any series or generation have always differentiated themselves from the rest of the automotive landscape by exhibiting more character, soul, enthusiasm—however you want to describe it—when being driven. The Z4, has always been the undisputed sports car of the of the BMW lineup, and if you need convincing, drive an M or M Performance example from the last 15 years, and feel how plush your 3 Series is when you hop back into the driver’s seat. Little has changed with the latest example, which packs more power and performance than ever, but with the caveat of the Toyota Supra. Costing less, benefitting from a rigid roof, and unencumbered by the strictures of the BMW model portfolio and series lineup, the Supra is free to be a bit more fun, a bit more tossable, a bit more rough around the edges.
It makes a lot of sense, and from our side of the street, it’s easy to see that there is a type of buyer and driver for each. When it comes to picking one for the BMW enthusiast though, the Z4 M40i remains the clear choice. BMW buyers are often looking for a single car that can do it all, and from devouring a backroad to crossing a continent, the Z4 does not disappoint.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG, Toyota Motor North America.]