It's no secret that there's a lot of BMW riding underneath the new Toyota Supra that I was just lucky enough to drive. An awful, awful lot of BMW. The engine, transmission, chassis and much of the rest of the machine that lies under the skin is far more DTM than JDM. That's not a bad thing, because BMW makes a fine car, but if you had visions of two automotive behemoths working hand-in-hand all day and then going to share some brats and tonkatsu after hours, think again.
At the first drive of the prototype in Madrid, Supra Assistant Chief Engineer Masayuki Kai said that his team hasn't spoken with anyone from BMW since 2014. That's just two years after the 2012 partnership began.
"We agreed on the packaging," Kai said, "like where is the hip-point of the driver, what's the wheelbase, the width, where's the fuel tank, where's the A-pillar, this was around the middle of 2014... After that we completely separated our team. After that, no communication with each other."
How complete was the communication black-out? Kai doesn't even know how much of the shared components developed for both Toyota Supra and BMW Z4 will actually be in the Z4. "Basically, the platform is the same... so we assume that we are using the same components, but as I mentioned, we are not sure that they will use the same components."
Now, just because much of the hardware is the same doesn't mean the cars will be anything alike when it comes to driving dynamics. These days, tuning of a car's feel is as much about fiddling in software as it is adjusting camber and caster. Kai said the team has worked extensively on the tuning of the adaptive suspension, engine and transmission to get the feel exactly how Toyota wants it. "Tuning of the shifting, some of the shift-shock, shift-speed, all if this is specifically designed for our Supra... For the engine, we tuned the engine for throttle response and a little more sport."
And how does he think it'll compare to the Z4? On that question Kai demurred. He then asked the assembled journalists whether any of us had driven one.