ONE OF the most exciting things about the return of the Toyota Supra is the promise of a boisterous straight-six exhaust noise. But if you’ve been following the media appearances and spy videos of Supra prototypes so far, you may be feeling a little underwhelmed by its smooth and cultured but all-too-quiet sound. If you're nodding and you live in Australia, America or Japan, here’s some good news.
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Buyers in these car-loving territories are in line to get the loudest Supra exhaust available from the factory as standard, according to assistant chief engineer Masayuki Kai; a man who understands the importance of the straight-six note.
Prototype Supras heard at demonstration events including the Goodwood Festival of Speed have been built to European specifications, which means abiding by some of the world’s strictest noise and emissions rules and leaving the free-flowing exhaust packages on the shelf.
“It’s not allowed anymore,” says Kai-san, regarding louder exhaust systems. “The pass-by noise [limit] is getting really crazy. You can make no noise at all anymore. [The EU version] is just on the limit – 72dB – and in 2020 if I remember correctly it goes to 70[dB].”
“You also have to go off the throttle so they can check the burbling – this ‘after-fire’ sound. If you put [the Supra] in Sport mode it has this sound, but this also has to be decreased [for Europe].”
That’s the bad news out of the way for anybody living on the same continent as the Austrian manufacturing plant that's building the Supra, but here’s what overseas buyers have to look forward to:
“[The] US is the most free, so US people will have the most loud exhaust, similar for Japan,” says Kai-san.
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“Australia I believe is similar to the US, so you should also be having quite a loud exhaust. Far louder than this EU-spec model, which has a particulate filter. You don’t need that, so then automatically you have a bigger sound.”
The sonic perfection of a good straight-six engine is a key part of the Supra legacy. The JZA80 Supra's 2JZ-GTE engine is particularly famous for both its performance and its sound. The fifth-gen Supra launching next year uses a BMW-sourced 3.0-litre turbocharged in-line six-cylinder, and has been developed with a passive, single-mode exhaust system rather than one with flaps that can open and close.
Toyota has had to adopt synthesised sound technology to compensate for its low volume and add more cabin rumble through the stereo speakers, particularly when Sport mode is selected. But there’s really no replacement for the genuine article, so bring on the free-breathing pipes we say.