TOYOTA’S much-loved – and greatly missed – Supra is poised make a triumphant return.
A new technological tie-up between Japan’s largest automaker and German luxury marque BMW is producing the mechanical bits to make Toyota’s next-gen sports car a reality.
Our spies have spotted a prototype undergoing street trials in Europe, where much of the technical development for the new Supra – and its BMW Z5 cousin – is taking place. Swirly camouflage shrouds most of the finer details and the makeshift headlight and tail-lamp clusters aren’t representative of the final product – but there are still plenty of discernable details.
While the Supra’s styling is expected to be distinct from its BMW-badged cousin, there are some key similarities. Compared with the BMW Z5 prototype also spied recently, the Supra ditches the Bimmer’s kidney grille in favour of a sloping snout that recalls the 1990s-era fourth-generation Supra, while the all-metal turret is entirely different from the folding fabric soft top of the Z5.
The Supra’s rear is reminiscent of the Toyota FT-1 concept’s rump , with a ducktail spoiler and wide haunches framing a pronounced (and presumably functional) rear diffuser. The upturned window line and double-bubble roof of the FT-1 also appear to make the transition from showpiece to showroom, but the concept’s wild scoops and vents sadly won’t.
The next-gen Supra will also drop the practical liftback bodystyle of the original. A conventional bootlid and a fixed rear windscreen both support this.
But while the nose, top and tail are Toyota-specific, the midsection reveals the Supra’s German DNA. The bonnet cutline aft of the front wheel well is identical between the Toyota and BMW, as are the wing mirrors, doorhandles and wheelbase. The door shutlines are different, however, a tell-tale sign that this car is not simply a hardtop derivative of the BMW Z5.
What’s under the bonnet remains a mystery. A BMW-sourced turbocharged 3.0-litre inline six is the most likely candidate, with potential output ranging from the 240kW/450Nm of the BMW 440i to the 331kW/550Nm of the BMW M4.
Other rumours hint that Toyota will turn to a plug-in hybrid setup for its Toyota Supra redux, with 50km of EV-only range and over 300kW of power when the petrol engine and electric motors are working in concert. We’ll likely find out which rumour is on the money in 2017, when the all-new BMW-based Toyota Supra is expected to have its first showing.