It’s been five years since the Toyota FT-1 Concept first sparked rumours of a Supra revival, but finally, after endless whispers, prototypes and teasers, the new Toyota Supra is here. It may feature underpinnings shared with the BMW Z4, but the new Supra is more than just an exercise in badge engineering, it’s rather an expression, says Toyota, of the the ultimate modern sports car. More importantly, it has the Porsche Cayman firmly in its sights.
So, the key facts: the new Supra is small, at only 4379mm long, it’s exactly the same length as a Porsche 718 Cayman, this despite of a long bonnet and sloping roofline. The wheelbase is also incredibly compact, at 2470mm, some 100mm less than the smaller GT86, both elements leading to the strict two-seat cabin. The body is also extremely stiff, stiffer than the all-carbonfibre Lexus LFA in fact, while its centre of gravity sits below even that of the flat-four GT86, two very impressive feats.
Under the front clamshell is a BMW ‘B58’ straight-six turbocharged 3-litre engine, paired exclusively to an eight-speed ZF-sourced torque converter automatic gearbox. From here, power is sent to the rear wheels, via an electronically controlled limited-slip diff, where it’s put to the road with chunky 275-section rear 19-inch Michelin Pilot Super Sports tyres. Every part of the new Supra screams performance, and with such a compact yet aggressive footprint, speaks volumes about the Supra’s far more dynamic stance in comparison to the dainty, delicate and eco-rubber shod GT86.
Power is identical to the BMW Z4 M40i it shares its powertrain with, producing 250kW, with 500Nm of torque spread across a majority of the rev-range. Performance is even more impressive than the Z4 though, as the Supra will beat it to 100km/h by 0.3 of a second at just 4.3sec. This is in part due to a mildly reduced overall kerb weight at 1495kg, 40kg less than the Z4 M40i at 1535kg, and standard fitment of a launch control function. Toyota has remained coy over the possibility of a manual gearbox option in future, although we suspect it will remain off the table, disappointingly. Top speed is limited to 250km/h.
The interior also shares components with its BMW cousin, but implements them in a more austere and focussed interior. The dashboard is unique, with a lower scuttle and more padding around the driver’s seat to keep you in place under hard cornering. Look closely and you’ll spot plenty of BMW bits though, including a version of BMW’s iDrive infotainment system, air-con controls, not to mention most of the main touchpoints. The steering wheel is a hybrid of both Toyota and BMW components, with the controls borrowed from the current generation BMW 3-series, but BMW’s usually squishy, overly thick rim replaced for a thinner, firmer item.
One part of the new Supra that is unmistakably Toyota is the exterior styling, a productionised take on the striking FT-1 Concept that remains as shocking now as it was five-years ago. Toyota’s head of design for the Supra project, Nobuo Nakamura, is adamant that the design was always intended to be the new Supra, and that no compromises were made in its transformation from Concept to road-car, but we’d suspect that might not be the case. One can’t argue about its striking road presence though, and it’s eccentric, compact and often busy surfacing does create a startling contrast against bloated SUVs and cookie cutter German saloons that make up a majority of modern traffic.
In Australia, new Toyota GR Supra will be launched in late 2019 with approximately 300 cars available in the first 12 months. All vehicles will be built in Graz, Austria.