Toyota diehards have been pining for a new Supra ever since the company shut down production of the A80 model in 2002, closing a legendary 24-year sports car chapter that began with the first Supra in 1978.
The Supra name and high-performance imagery however, were kept alive in collective cult folklore thanks to its regular stints in the $5 billion-grossing Fast and Furious movie franchise that first arrived in cinemas in 2001. In fact, the Mark IV A80 Supra was one of the hero cars from the first installment ‘Fast and Furious,’ a car rescued by O’Conner’s character from a junkyard and brought back to life in Toretto’s garage.
We first heard about the co-development agreement between BMW and Toyota way back in 2012, when the two carmakers revealed that they were going to share the platforms and powertrains of the next generation Supra and BMW Z4.
Then, after six long years, a fully-liveried Supra race car concept appeared at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show to rapturous applause and high expectations for something special in the production version. For the last year, we’ve seen the Supra appearing in various forms of heavy camouflage, and driven in anger for the first time at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The car you see here however, is the first time we have laid eyes on the actual production sheetmetal.
And I must say that it mostly meets my expectations. While the headlights appear slightly conservative in shape and placement, the huge front aidams, Jennifer Lopez-inspired rear flared fenders, double bubble roof, and fixed rear wing all hint at a coupe with real handling capability.
Having just driven the new Supra A90 at the Sodegaura Forest Raceway 90 minutes south-east of Tokyo, I can confirm that it will not let you down. Powered by a BMW-built 3.0-liter turbocharged straight-6, sharing its architecture with the BMW 440i, the new Supra generates upwards of 350hp through a ZF-supplied 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox, which if I might say, is undoubtedly one of the best powertrains in the world. As of late December, Toyota was keeping final power and torque figures under wraps until the official launch at the Detroit Auto Show on January 14.
After briefly chatting with Supra’s chief engineer Tetsuya Tada about the car’s long gestation period, he explained that although it does share basic components like powertrain and chassis, the feel of the Supra compared to the Z4 is very different. I hope so.
Heading out onto the track, the first thing you notice is that the new Supra is fitted with its own unique specification of springs and active dampers with three settings (Normal, Sport and Sport +), an electronic diff, 4-pot Brembo brakes and 19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport rubber. Tada impresses by telling us that the car squeezes in under 1500kg in weight, its steel and aluminium shell is stiffer than that of the Lexus LFA, and the centre of gravity is lower than a GT86.
Keep the 3.0-liter spinning around 3000 revs and you’ll have a tsunami of torque on tap. The Supra possesses beefy delivery, and for a straight-6, it revs hard and delivers prodigious power all the way to the redline. Shifts are quick on the 8-speed with minimal shift-shock and in manual mode, it will hold a gear rather than changing up if you are running in either of the Sport modes.
What’s it like in the corners? The A90 Supra has just the right amount of roll and pitch, while the steering points you into a corner using a single input with minimal mid-corner corrections. At the limit however, the coupe can feel a little peaky as it slides and fights for grip. Ah yes, for the drifters out there, a quick flick of the traction control to off, and ‘power sliding’ could be this car’s middle name.
Steering feel is precise and nicely weighted, and dare I say, more composed than the nervous GT86. The combination of the superbly composed chassis, perfectly weighted steering, and purposeful power delivery make the Supra a hugely satisfying driver experience. While the brakes do wipe off speed quickly, I would have liked slightly bigger brakes with more rigidity and more immediate stopping power. But I’m sure a higher performance brake package will be offered once the car lands in showrooms.
While the Supra does everything with pace and poise, it is less of a sports car and more of a GT car. Inside, the red and black dual color tone leather seats provide excellent support and comfort and the dashboard execution is more adult-friendly than boy racer-oriented. It feels almost as precise as a Porsche Cayman and nearly as tightly wound as an Alpine A110, but then again, remember that Toyota’s target is here. It’s the GT86’s big brother so it must be more mature, more powerful, and more refined. And that translates to exactly what Toyota has built here, a BMW-flavoured Toyota-tuned ‘GT car.’
|Cylinder Head||Aluminum, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, Double-VANOS Variable Camshaft Timing, Valvetronic Variable Valve lift system, Water-to-Air Charge Intercooled Twin-scroll, Single Turbo|
|Fuel Injector||Direct Fuel Injection|
|Max Power (bhp @ rpm)||335 bhp (250 kw) @ 5000-6500 rpm|
|Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm)||365 lb-ft (495 Nm) @ 1600-4500 rpm|
|Transmission||ZF-8HP51 8-speed Dual Clutch Automatic, Rear-Wheel-Drive|
|Suspension System||Front) Double-joint spring MacPherson strut (Rear) Five-arm construction, independent multi-link, anti-roll bars, Adaptive Variable Suspension, modes: Normal, Sport, Sport+|
|Brakes||(Front/Rear) Brembo 13.7” (350mm) ventilated discs with 4-piston calipers|
|Tires||(Front/Rear) 19-inch forged alloy|
Weight and dimensions
|Wheelbase (mm)||2470 mm|
|Curb Weight||1540 kg (3397 lbs.)|
|Top Speed||250 km/h (155 mph) Governed|
|0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph||4.3 sec|
|Price as Tested (PHP)||PhP 5,090,000.00|
|C! Editors Rating||10/10|