Opinion: Did Toyota get the A90 Supra right?

Why is the new Toyota Supra so upsetting to so many people?

Opinion Did Toyota get the A90 Supra right
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What to make of the new Toyota Supra? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a broadly negative reaction to a new sports car before but, after years of tormenting drip-feeding, I can somewhat understand why.

For starters, my own two cents – I’m glad the new, A90 fifth-generation Supra exists. Is anybody not? And I’m thanking the kind and benevolent car gods that over the next few years I will be able to go buy one from Toyota here in Australia. How lucky are we?

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A cutting-edge, turbocharged 3.0-litre inline-six sending power (250 German kilowatts) to the rear wheels, in a swoopy, somewhat overstyled but inarguably dramatic coupe bodystyle. Ignore the Toyota badge and all the hullabaloo about the name, this car entering the market as another option for us is a very welcome thing. And not just because new, sub-$100K sports cars don’t come along anywhere near as often as $200K-plus sports cars these days, but there is that as well.

So why is everybody so butt-hurt about the fact it’s basically a restyled BMW? Is that even a fact? Having read all the press materials for Supra, I don’t think we know the full story, and I think Toyota should kick itself up the bum for not telling that story properly – a failure of its global PR apparatus.

I have a sneaking suspicion the Z4, you could say, is much more Japanese than we think. Sure, if you put a percentage on it, the new Supra in its physical form has gotta be over 50 per cent BMW, but they haven’t done a Lexcen either. We will endeavour to find out this full story as soon as we can.

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My feelings towards the Supra do get a bit confused when I look at its interior. The interior of the fourth generation JZA80 Supra was one of its coolest features – inspired by a fighter jet cockpit, it was unabashedly driver-focused with myriad delightful details. A team of Japanese car nerds clearly had a great time designing it.

Acknowledging that I’ve not sat in one yet, from photos it appears the new A90 Supra’s interior makes almost zero effort to hide the fact it’s pure BMW. Should I be upset that someone’s put a BMW interior in my Toyota? I’d certainly be more upset if someone put a Toyota interior in my BMW.

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And it’s not as simple as saying I’d prefer to pay $70K for my Supra if it had a cheaper Toyota interior. If Toyota did indeed do its own cabin for Supra, and had to pay extra to have Austrian-based manufacturing contractor Magna Steyr install it for them (neither Z4 or Supra are made by BMW), it’s probable the end price of the car would be not unlike what it is now.

Is the Supra too expensive? It’s $85K for the GT and $95K for the GTS, before on-roads. That makes it either a very expensive Toyota or a very cheap BMW. The Z4 M40i – more or less a convertible Supra that looks like a BMW – is $125K.

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Like anyone, I was hoping Toyota would pull a rabbit from the pricing hat and announce a $60K price-tag or something similarly stunning. They kind of did that with 86. But $85K is still mighty sharp – and will look even sharper when the M2 and M240i no longer exist, which is sadly, as both models are in their twilight years, not too far away.

Should the Supra have been a Lexus model? Should it have been called Celica? Is it too soft, too much of a grand tourer, as you’ll read in the review later this issue? So many questions, and so many differing answers, but there is one question that, to my mind, there is an unequivocal single answer. And that is if it was right of Toyota to offer this car at all.

 

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