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Toyota is gearing up to launch its new Supra in 2019 with straight-line performance and handling to worry high-end sports cars such as the Porsche 911.
Although the Supra, which has just been spotted testing at the Nürburgring again, is expected to cost considerably less than Stuttgart’s rear-engined model, the Supra will stay true to its predecessors and punch well above its weight.
Twinned with the next BMW Z4 that’s due in 2018, the new Supra is expected to come with a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six dual overhead cam engine producing 335bhp at 5500rpm and 332lb ft of torque at 1380-5200rpm. Those figures were leaked onto the internet earlier this year, and although Toyota refrained from commenting on them, they have been widely accepted as realistic.
The Supra’s six-pot engine will send drive rearwards through an eight-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox. Both parts of the powertrain are derived from BMW units, shared with the upcoming BMW Z4. The Supra also uses the same carbonfibre architecture as its German cousin, which is based on that used by the i3, i8 and 7 Series.
Information in the leaked onto the web claims that the Supra will weigh 1496kg, making it 250kg heavier than the GT86 and 14kg lighter than the previous fourth-generation Supra, which went out of production in 2002. This would also make the car 14kg lighter than a PDK-equipped Porsche 911 Carrera S, with which the Supra’s expected (via the leak) 3.8sec 0-62mph time would make it most comparable.
As Toyota’s new range-topping model, the new Supra will be larger than the GT86, which is its only current sports car. The leaked information suggests the Supra will be 4380mm long, 1855mm wide and 1290mm tall. It said the wheelbase will be 2470mm. Compared to the last Supra, it’s 140mm shorter in length, 45mm wider, 15mm taller, with a wheelbase 80mm shorter. The car’s shorter length will present engineers with the opportunity to enhance the car’s agility.
Like with the GT86, insiders have stated that driving pleasure will rank above outright performance. Chief engineer Tetsuya Tada, who previously headed engineering for the GT86, told Autocar earlier this year: “It’s really fun to drive this car. Front engines, rear drive… with such a concept, you can have the greatest amount of fun to enjoy a drive in the world. It’s fun on the road as well as the race track, the autobahn and the English countryside”.
Tada emphasised that the Supra and Z4 will be very different, suggesting that while they share several common parts, their handling will differ by quite some margin. He said: “It’s different to the Z4, they are two different cars. We didn’t start by finding common parts. We worked on our own ideas to see what cars we wanted to create, then we shared ideas to identify where we can share common parts”.
Toyota hinted at the performance-focus of its upcoming sports car with the reveal of a GR Supra Racing Concept at this year’s Geneva motor show. That model, which was badged under the firm’s performance arm, Gazoo Racing, was a pared-back and more hardcore version of the Supra. Toyota executives have previously revealed intentions to produce several variants of the Supra with different power outputs, suggesting this motorsport-inspired concept hints at a future range-topping version.
First previewed by the FT-1 concept of 2014, the design of the next Supra will be slightly toned down compared to the concepts that have preceded it. The latest sighting of a test car at the ‘Ring shows that the FT-1’s overall silhouette is familiar, with the headlights, taillights and double-bubble roof all remaining, but the car does away with aggressive features such as side air intakes and a fixed rear wing.
Proportionally, the car looks like a larger GT86, with a traditional front-engined, real-wheel drive sports car stance mixing a long bonnet with a short tail. The Z4 contrasts this with a slightly longer tail thanks to its soft-top roof.
An earlier sighting of the Supra’s interior showed BMW switchgear, including a dashboard-mounted infotainment screen and accompanying rotary dial controller on the central tunnel, as well as BMW heating control buttons and a BMW automatic gearlever. Toyota may fit its own parts to the final car’s cabin, but this sighting suggests the electrical architecture beneath will be based on BMW’s systems.
A hybrid version of the car is also predicted to come as part of the BMW tie-up, with both the Supra and Z4 due with electrified all-wheel-drive powertrains at a later stage. Both BMW and Toyota are experts in high-performance hybrid power, with the former having launched the i8 back in 2014 and the latter competing in the World Endurance Championship with its Toyota’s TS030 Hybrid. Toyota’s racing-derived energy-storing supercapacitors are due to be fitted to the Supra to power its electrified drive hardware.
Toyota has long emphasised its desire to produce a hot hybrid model. In 2013, it revealed the Yaris Hybrid-R concept, which used a 414bhp set-up comprising a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor on each rear wheel.
Toyota has repeatedly refrained from revealing any details about the new Supra, telling Autocar: “We don’t comment on future products.” However, sources claim that a hybrid set-up would mean such variants will likely be offered exclusively with an automatic gearbox.
As Toyota’s top model, the Supra is predicted to cost considerably more than the GT86, which is priced from £26,855. It’s expected to be launched under the Gazoo banner, like the recently introduced Yaris GRMN.
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