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By George Moore
August 30, 1998
One of the prefix meaning of the word supra is to surpass or go beyond; and when applied to the 1998 Toyota Supra Turbo it means surpass or go beyond in a hurry.In turbocharged form, Toyota's sport coupe belongs among the flying machines. The normally
aspirated (nonturbo) version itself is no slouch in the performance department. But adding a blower elevates the car onto a plain occupied by but a few.The rear-drive Supra actually started life as part of the Toyota Celica line, debuting in 1979 as a
Celica Supra. It finally was given its own identity in 1986, and a turbocharger was added the next year. But it wasn't until 1993 that the Supra Turbo entered into the realm of the supercars.The 1998 model builds on these roots, with performance
characteristics that rank among the upper echelon of go-fast vehicles while ensconced amidst the trapping of comfort and convenience.There are a number of interesting design features about the '98 Supra Turbo.In a era when the V configuration is
embraced by the majority of six-cylinder motors, the Supra has its six cylinders all in a line. As an in-line 6 instead of a V-6, the engine retains an even firing order.Rather than utilizing Toyota's variable valve timing that is applied to the
normally aspirated 6, the Turbo uses fixed valve timing and twin sequential turbochargers. The Turbo has so much power that the VVT system isn't necessary.The two turbochargers act in sequence, with only one turbo being active during low rpm
operation. This uses less exhaust gas energy and improves throttle response when accelerating.The second turbo comes on line in the middle rpm range, and runs at idle speed at a pre-set exhaust pressure for a smooth transition from primary to
secondary turbo. Then both kick in at full boost in the high engine speed range.So how much does this contribute to power?How does 320-horsepower and 315 foot-pounds of torque sound. That's a quantum jump of 95-horsepower and 95 foot-pounds of
torque over a Supra powered by the non-turbo 6.Both engines share the same fundamental design parameters of two overhead cams and four valves per cylinder. Something that isn't shared, however, is the cost.Turbocharging isn't cheap. As a
consequence, there is about a $10,000 price differential between a blown Supra and a non-turbo model.It's not all attributed to the engines. Other design configurations figure in to make the difference. But you're looking at a bit over $40,000 for the
Turbo versus around $30,000 for the normally aspirated.Is it worth it? Well, that depends on how fast you want to go.The Turbo posts rather sparkling 0-60 miles per hour runs of 5.1 seconds and an electronically controlled top speed of 155 mph.
Specs for the non-turbo model are not available, but with a dropoff of 95 horses and 95 foot-pounds of torque the pace is going to be quite a bit slower.It is quite obvious the Supras are drivers' cars, with a bit of semi-pro to professional touc
h recommended for the Turbo model if you are planning on running with the hammer down.There is a choice of transmissions with the Turbo coupe. Available is a four-speed automatic and a six-speed manual. The normally aspirated comes with just the
automatic.The automatic is electronically controlled with a manual shift mode that permits faster shifting than letting the unit do it itself. For a slam-bang style of driving that calls for going down through the gears, as well as up, the six-speed
is the gearbox of choice.In getting the power out to the back end, the Turbo is equipped with a Torsen torque-sensing limited slip differential to minimize wheel slip.The standard Supra has limited slip, but it's of the conventional clutch-pack
type.To keep this thing on the road, the Turbo has 17-inch wheels and ZR-rated (high-speed) tires versus 16-inch wheels and VR-rated tires forthe normally aspirated version.Both models have four-wheel independent suspension, but the Turbo ha
s upgraded disc brakes with four calipers in front and two in the back versus two in front and a single caliper in the rear for the Supra.The cockpit layout basically is the same for both cars, with the Turbo being upgraded with power seats and
leather seating as standard.This model offers a mix of world class performance and luxurious comfort.