Performance is the name of the game at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, with an array of offerings, both mainstream and exotic. But new models are generating more attention than the Toyota Supra which is making its return after a 16-year absence.
Once one of the most powerful models ever offered by a Japanese automaker, the Supra has retained a cult status despite – and possibly because of – that long absence. Now, however, it will need to prove it can deliver on some lofty expectations. Of course, it helps that the new model has a strong pedigree. In an unusual move, Toyota entered a partnership with BMW which will be offering its own version of the performance model as the next-generation Z4 roadster.
The reborn Supra should put an accent mark on Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda’s promise to put more “passion” into the brand. And to further underscore its intent, the Japanese giant has outlined plans to campaign the new Supra on the motorsports circuit through its Gazoo Racing arm.
Officially, the car that made its debut in Geneva is a “concept,” but few are fooled, and Toyota made it clear that it “shows the future potential for a car that can deliver high performance both on road and track.”
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The only real question is when we’ll get to see the final version of the new Supra. The answer is almost certainly before autumn. And the GR Supra Racing concept will actually show up as a new entry into the wildly popular Sony PlayStation Gran Turismo racing game in April.
Toyota was cautious with specifics about the new Supra during its Geneva Motor Show news conference but plenty has already leaked out. The car is the product of that unusual alliance with BMW, the German automaker reportedly taking the lead in development of both the platform and driveline of what will be a Supra coupe and both hardtop and ragtop versions of the Z4.
The Supra, Toyota confirmed, stretches 180.1 inches nose-to-tail, with a wheelbase of 97.2 inches, a height of 48.43 inches and a width of 80.63 inches. It’s believed to weigh in somewhere around 3,284 pounds.
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Under the hood? Toyota isn’t yet saying, though reports from Japan indicate a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six borrowed from the BMW toolkit that can make 335 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. It appears no manual is in the works, at least for Supra, which will go with an eight-speed automatic. The coupe is expected to launch to 60 in just under 4 seconds.
The old Supra had a bit of a boy racer look about it, though its price tag put it out of reach for most young street racers. Expectations are that the new model will move even more up-market. And it now sports a more sophisticated, grand touring look that could appeal to an older, more mature buyer.
How much of the concept race car’s design will carry over to the street car remains to be seen. The big rear wing will almost certainly go away, though some sort of back end aero enhancement seems likely. The massively flared rear shoulders of the Gazoo race concept likely also will be tamed, and the huge front air intakes might also be a little less extreme by the time the Supra reaches showrooms. Even then, it will likely to continue borrowing heavily from the FT-1 concept that Toyota unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in 2014, clearly signaling its desire to revive the Supra.
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The interior of the Gazoo-mobile also will be radically revised. This concept is specifically geared for the track with no attempt to reveal the street car’s cabin. There are carbon fiber door panels, a quick-release steering wheel and full racing harness and roll cage. Future buyers will be more interested in a nice infotainment system and sporty seats that will be able to soak up real-world pothole bumps.
While Toyota isn’t yet talking about production plans, few doubt the fifth-generation Supra is coming. Destined to sit above the current 86 model – which began life as a Scion model – expectations are that Toyota will be asking somewhere north of $50,000 to start once it does roll into showrooms.