Designed and engineered in Germany, but not only by Germans, and assembled in Austria, this product of a 2012 agreement revives a Japanese legend last produced in 2002. Toyota insists the new Supra would not exist if it had not done a co-development deal with BMW, and the Germans say that without their Japanese partner the business case for replacing the Z4 roadster would not add up. The closely related pair of rear-drive two-seaters are produced in the same Magna Steyr-owned factory in Graz, Austria.
To say the two-birds-with-one-stone origin tale of the new Toyota Supra is more complex than the average car’s is an understatement. But there’s nothing complicated about the Supra line-up launched in Australia last September.
It consists of only two model grades, the $84,900 GT and the $94,900 GTS. The extra money buys larger 19-inch wheels and Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, larger rear brakes and red-painted calipers, metal pedals, a head-up display, JBL sound system, plus access to Alcantara interior trim and matte grey exterior paint options at $2500 apiece.
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Those prices are premium, but competitive. The Supra GTS is around $30,000 less than its Z4 M40i sibling with the same 250kW and 500Nm BMW 3.0-litre turbo in-line six and ZF eight-speed automatic. The Toyota also undercuts its most obvious competitor, the Jaguar F-Type P340 Coupe, and is $20,000 more than Nissan’s ancient and raw 370Z Nismo.
What’s not debatable is the quality of the Supra’s borrowed drivetrain, though consumption soars when driven with verve. Some judges yearned for a manual transmission in place of the auto, but the muscular and musical BMW engine is mostly a delight.
While ride comfort is impressive, some judges at first thought its Toyota-calibrated chassis felt a little too ‘GT’. Drive it harder, however, and it’s clear that there’s a flintier side to its initially urbane dynamics. The brakes are great, but both ESC and traction control systems lack finesse.
The Toyota was the noisiest car in the COTY 2020 field. Constant road roar wasn’t the only inherent flaw. Head-banging was a hazard for taller judges when getting into and out of the Supra, thanks to the cut of the door apertures.
The contrived exterior hysterically screams Japan. Toyota sent a small team of designers to work in Munich for two years on the Supra, and it’s plain most of them were exterior artists. The snug interior instead shouts BMW, though Toyota deserves some credit for specifying a steering wheel with a slimmer rim than the fat sausages being served by Munich lately. Supra’s cargo compartment is small.
Safety isn’t a Supra strong point. It hasn’t yet been independently crash tested (though the Z4 has earned a five-star rating from Euro NCAP) but the list of sensor-based safety and driver-assist systems isn’t as extensive as that fitted to a budget-priced Corolla.
The high noise levels, divisive exterior design, cramped interior, hard-driven thirst and skimpy safety equipment ultimately dented the chances of this interesting comeback car progressing any further in COTY 2020.
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THE JUDGES’ COTY SCORECARD
TOYOTA SUPRA SPECS
Type: 2-door coupe, 2 seats
Boot capacity: 290L
Layout: Front-engine (north-south), RWD
Engine: 2998cc 6cyl turbo-petrol (250kW/500Nm)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Tyres: 255/40R18 – 275/35R19
ADR81 fuel consumption: 7.7L/100km
CO2 emissions: 177g/km
Crash rating: Not yet rated
$84,900 – $94,900