After a very, very long wait, the Japanese sports car icon is finally reborn! But, there’s a twist in the tale – it’s got a German heart! And this means that there are more questions than answers…
If you’re a Supra purist and think that the BMW six-cylinder in-line is unacceptable in a Toyota, you should consider the words of Tetsuya Tada, chief engineer of the project – ‘Building a similar engine from scratch would have delayed the development of the car by two-to-three years and increased the price to over 90 thousand Euros.’ It’s as simple as that.
It was only logical to source the six-cylinder motor from someone with an expertise in building one. And that’s exactly what Toyota did – they headed to Bavaria and sourced the in-line-six gasoline powertrain from BMW’s stable. Now all that was left to do was to fine-tune it to set the ultimate benchmark for sports cars.
If BMW is targeting the Porsche 718 Boxster with its new Z4, with which the Supra shares its platform, Toyota has the hardtop version of the model from Zuffenhausen in its crosshairs – namely the 718 Cayman S. Now, that’s some competition!
Both on the road and at the track, the Supra exhibits high levels of performance and handling. It’s quick to enter corners and change direction – the steering is, in fact, as sharp as the Porsche. The 340bhp, 3.0-litre turbo engine delivers instant power everywhere in the rev-range, and it does so with a throaty roar.
The 500Nm of torque, however, comes in slowly at low revs, but the performance is absolutely ballistic in the upper ranges. And what about the gearbox? Well, the 718’s dual-clutch PDK has a slight advantage over the Toyota’s eight-speed torque converter, but only by a whisker. Such details, however, are trivial and do not detract from the effectiveness of the transmission during a quick and inspiring drive.
In terms of braking performance, the Cayman S continues to dominate the comparison because of its superb feedback and consistency. The Supra, though, has an active suspension setup that is very well suited to everyday driving. Despite the 19-inch wheels and the low-profile Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, the ride is not jittery. But, on a racetrack, it remains firm enough to let you have all the fun that you want.
Around corners, this Japanese supercar exhibits another one of its brilliant qualities – a perfect balance between agility and stability, the result of a golden ratio between the wheelbase and the track width, as well as the electronically controlled self-locking differential, which allows the rear of the car to slide just enough to ensure that you have the perfect angle when coming out of a corner – without causing any apprehension about oversteer or a lack of traction.
It’s safe to assume that the Supra will never see our shores – which is a shame, because it carries forward a very important legacy. For Toyota of course, but also for sports cars as a whole.
At Toyota, the Supra has been synonymous with true performance for over 40 years. This time, though, it’s accompanied by the two letters, GR, which stand for Gazoo Racing. In the pictures you can see the digital instrumentation, which is clear and complete, but the gear lever betrays its German ancestry.
Thirty Months of Courting
May 2012: Tetsuya Tada is commissioned to go to Germany for a possible collaboration with BMW. Nothing concrete comes of it, except the engineer becomes all but certain that the six-cylinder German in-line – at the time, one of its kind in the industry – is the key to the new Supra. After 30 months of reluctance to develop a sports car in collaboration with Toyota, things change in Bavaria, and consequently, the scepticism dissolves and paves the way for the development of a new platform to create a coupe (the Supra) and a convertible (the Z4).
© Riproduzione riservata