For years, the prospect of a reborn Toyota Supra was shrouded in equal parts of informed speculation and smoke and mirrors. The new Supra isn’t available yet, but Toyota has finally officially confirmed its return, and it even showed off a motorsports-themed Toyota GR Supra Racing Concept at the Geneva Motor Show this year.
The production Supra, codeveloped with BMW in a joint-venture project that will also result in a new Z4, will likely look very similar to the concept seen here, which means we can expect a long hood, a flowing greenhouse and wide hips for this rear-wheel-drive coupe. The rumormill continues to be in full swing about what sort of engines and transmissions will be available, but we’re betting on an inline six-cylinder engine (thanks, BMW!), although there could be other variants in the future, perhaps even with hybrid power. No official word yet on when we’ll see the Supra’s official reveal, but it’ll likely be after the next BMW Z4, which is expected this summer.
Oh, Supra. We haven't seen this much fan uproar about the rebirth of a beloved Japanese sports car since... well, since the NSX's rebirth, which really wasn't all that long ago. Just like with Honda/Acura's reborn icon, fan passions run deep with Supra, a model that most have only ever touched through a PlayStation controller. The many and myriad reactions to its unveiling this past January at the Detroit Auto Show displays just how strongly people feel about the former Fast & Furious hero.
I was lucky to score an early drive of a camouflaged prototype of the MkV Supra last year, and even then, long before Toyota took the wraps off, I could feel the flames being stoked in Roadshow's comment section. Today, dear readers, it's time to tamp down those fires, because the 2020 Toyota Supra is here, it's good and I don't care that it carries a German heart beating inside a German body. You shouldn't, either.
Let's just go ahead and address this early: From a hardware standpoint, the Toyota Supra is basically a BMW Z4. It shares the same engine, chassis and suspension, plus countless other bits. It's even assembled right alongside the Z4 at Magna Steyr in Austria.
So, yes, the 2020 Toyota Supra has more than a little BMW in it. But if you want to talk DNA, from a genetic standpoint I'm virtually indistinguishable from a mouse. In execution, however, I look rather different -- though I do confess a sincere affinity for cheese.
Similarly, a car's personality comes as much from its tune as it does from its hardware, and Toyota has gone to great lengths to differentiate the Supra from its Bavarian counterpart. During basically the entire development project for the car, for years, Toyota and BMW engineers didn't share notes. To this day the Supra's main development driver hasn't turned a wheel in the new Z4.
The goal was to create a car with a German body and a Japanese soul, though that spirit will be hard to feel when you'll need to grip a BMW-style shifter to back out of every parking space. A distinctly iDrive-style knob sits to the right while the sound coming from the engine carries the same sort of digital augmentation that has lately crept into BMW interiors.
I understand how looking past all that can be difficult, but trust me when I say it's worthwhile.
When you say "Supra" to a car enthusiast, most will immediately envision one specific model: the MkIV Supra Turbo. Manufactured from 1993 until 2002, the Supra's premature departure from the US in 1998 only elevated its status as the ultimate tuner car. Quicker off the showroom floor than many an Italian exotic, the MKIV was nevertheless frequently tweaked to even greater heights of performance -- or, often, deeper depths of undrivability.
It's through that distorted, aftermarket lens that many enthusiasts remember the Supra, but we must go back to the car Toyota actually sold when considering how the new, MkV Supra stacks up. Despite the German parentage, the two cars are far more similar than they are different.
It starts with the engine, a 3.0-liter, turbocharged, inline-six, just like before. Where the old car delivered 321 horsepower, the new one manages 335. Not a massive boost considering the 20 years between, but torque is way up: 365 pound-feet vs. 315 in the old car. Fuel efficiency gets an even bigger boost: The new Supra does 31 miles per gallon on the highway, compared to just 22 in the outgoing car.
(I am fully aware that nobody's buying a Supra for the fuel economy, but given it was emissions that ultimately forced its early exit from the US market, it's nice to know that the new car is much more efficient.)
That engine its in the nose, but a quick look under the hood shows it's been pushed dramatically rearward -- and that's despite the bundle of ugly, black plastic swaddling everything. Indeed, Toyota has managed a perfect 50:50 weight distribution here. At 3,397 pounds, MkV is about 100 pounds lighter than an automatic MkIV Supra Turbo. That's despite the new car having, among its many modern amenities, eight airbags.
With the increasing sales prices of Japanese sports cars, OEMs like Toyota are starting to see the value of supporting them.
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As we take our first go in the production Supra, we can't help but look back at this fabled nameplate.
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The long-awaited MKV Supra is finally here, and it just might have been worth the wait.