It’s set to be one of the most hyped launches of 2019, and Toyota is trying to tick all the boxes to make sure the fifth-generation Supra sports car is ready for its worldwide debut in 2019.
To that end, a pre-production version of the rear-wheel-drive two-door coupe was shipped to Australia earlier this month for what Toyota calls an “evaluation and suitability test,” under the watchful eye of the car’s chief engineer – and the father of the Toyota 86 – Tetsuya Tada.
The Great Ocean Road was used as part of the test loop, along with areas around Kinglake in Victoria, aboard an A90 pre-production prototype car wrapped in the Supra’s distinctive camouflage livery.
Given that the Supra – which is a co-development with the new BMW Z4, and a natural rival to the Ford Mustang and the ageing Nissan 370Z – will have been ‘signed off’ from an engineering standpoint for some time, the only changes that Toyota could realistically make are in areas like stability and traction control programming.
Mr Tada, who has visited Australia on numerous occasions as part of the Toyota 86 program, said he had been keen to use Australian roads to confirm what he calls “performance targets” for the Supra and to make sure it would satisfy Aussie customers.
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"We know your drivers tend to favour strong levels of body control and steering feel, particularly for your undulating road surfaces," Mr Tada said.
"It's vital the driver feels confident during rough-road cornering and that the car is very stable under braking. Speedo accuracy is also very important.
"Working on aspects of handling and other details here in Australia allows us to make refinements that will result in a better car right up until production starts in the first part of next year."
Specs are still scarce, but we do know that the Supra – which will be built in Austria - will be powered by a BMW-sourced 3.0-litre turbocharged inline six-cylinder petrol engine mounted in a traditional ‘north-south’ configuration, with drive sent to the rear wheels only.
An eight-speed auto has already been previewed along with an electronically locking rear diff, though it’s not yet clear whether a manual variant will make it down under.
It’s expected that the Supra, which sits above the 86 in terms of size and spec, will also offer a variety of engine tunes from mild to wild.
The Supra has had one of the most drawn-out launches of recent times, and it will finally burst onto the world at the Detroit motor show in January.