Toyota FT-1 concept
Toyota is dead serious about building cars that appeal to the heart, not just the mind. It’s bringing back the Supra, one of its most emblematic models, in a bid to rekindle ties with its performance past and once again lure enthusiasts into showrooms.
Official details about the born-again Supra are few and far between; the name hasn’t even been confirmed yet, though we’re pretty confident the Supra moniker is about to live again. We’ve examined the numerous leaks, spy shots, and rumors to single out all the relevant information about the Japanese brand’s hotly-anticipated coupe.
The sports car segment is declining all over the globe, so it’s increasingly difficult for companies to justify spending money on new entrants. That’s why Toyota teamed up with Subaru to design the 86, and the Supra will share its platform with a BMW roadster envisioned as a replacement for the Z4.
The Supra and BMW’s next drop-top will use the same basic architecture, but they’ll look completely different. For starters, the Supra will only be offered as a coupe while the roadster — which might adopt the Z5 name — won’t spawn a hardtop model. Brand-specific sheet metal will ensure the Supra looks like a Toyota and the Z4 like a BMW, and each company will give its sports car an engine developed in-house.
Fear not, enthusiasts, this won’t be another case of indolent badge-engineering.
What will it look like?
The Supra nameplate was introduced in 1978, and it was used on four generations of coupes until the final example was produced in 2002. Toyota could easily go retro, but it won’t.
Instead, the next Supra will get a sleek, modern look loosely inspired by the well-received FT-1 concept — pictured above — introduced at the 2014 edition of the Detroit Auto Show, according to Motor Authority. Its front end will be characterized by a long hood, horizontal headlights, and a bumper with large air dams, though they won’t be as pronounced as the concept’s, which features a Formula 1-like nose cone.
The roof line peaks right above the driver and gently slopes down into a ducktail spoiler, a styling cue that gives it a fastback-like look. Like the original Supra, the upcoming model features a hatchback that enhances practicality. It’s supposed to be a sports car you can live with every day, not merely a track toy that sits in the garage during the week.
Strictly a two-seater, the Supra will offer a driver-oriented center console, a fully configurable digital instrument cluster, and a high-resolution screen on top of the dashboard.
What’s under the hood?
At launch, the Supra will most likely offer an evolution of the brand-new V6 engine that debuted earlier this year in the 2018 Lexus LS. It will use a pair of turbochargers to generate 400 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque in its most basic configuration. Rear-wheel drive will come standard, though transmission options remain unconfirmed.
Enthusiasts who want even more power will need to go hybrid. Sources familiar with Toyota’s plans have revealed the Supra’s second powertrain will be a gasoline-electric hybrid built around a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a powerful electric motor.
“If we can have a World Endurance Championship racing car with hybrid technology, it can happen on a road car,” Johan van Zyl, the president of Toyota’s European division, told British magazine Auto Express.
What will its rivals be?
One of the Supra’s main rivals will be the Nissan 370Z. It’s one of the older coupes on the market, so it might be out of production by the time the Supra lands, but Nissan has previously confirmed a successor is in the works.
Toyota will position its upcoming coupe in the same segment as the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang, two of the most popular sports cars on the market. It will also face competition from the BMW 4 Series, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe, and the Audi A5 Coupe.
When will I be able to buy one?
Again, nothing is set in stone at this point. However, industry rumors indicate Toyota will preview the next-generation Supra by showing a close-to-production concept during this year’s edition of the Tokyo Auto Show.
If that’s accurate, the production model could make its official debut as early as next year, and arrive in showrooms in time for the 2019 model year. If the rumors are false, we might have to wait until early 2019 to see the long-awaited next-gen Supra in the metal.
Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung reports that contract manufacturer Magna-Steyr will build both the Z5 and the Supra in its Graz, Austria, facility. Combined production will be limited to approximately 60,000 units annually.