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How the new Toyota Supra was born in GT Sport

Published: Today 14:19

► New A90 Toyota Supra coupe, on sale summer 2019
► First shown in GT Sport
► Priced from £52,695 in the UK

If you’ve some of the very first Gran Turismo titles – or you’re just a fan of Japanese classics, you’ll be very familiar with the first Toyota Supra. The original car, in Castrol colours, of course - became synonymous with the franchise – and it looks like the new car will be just as associated with GT Sport.

At the beginning of the GT Sport world championship in Paris, Toyota revealed it’ll be a partner to the growing eSports series – and also revealed a new Supra-only racing series, soon to be introduced to the game. What’s more, in a chat with Kazunori Yamauchi – Mr Gran Turismo basically – CAR learned the new Supra owes more to Gran Turismo than we first thought.

The game before the car

In a chat with Yamauchi during the event, we were told that the average car takes around 6 months to put in the game – but the new Supra took a matter of weeks. Why’s that? Because the Supra was in GT Sport before it even existed in reality:

‘Supra was a car that we were already given access to during the development process, right from the start when they were still selecting the design for the car,’ Yamauchi tells us.

Born in the game

‘We were involved in the Supra before it was fully on the drawing board, so in that respect, that’s what really made it possible to release the model of the car in the game in the same month that the car was revealed to the world.’

What’s more, it turns out the first Supra the Toyota president saw wasn’t a clay model either…


'Toyota already talked about this at the Detroit motor show, so i don’t think I need to keep it secret anymore,’ continues Yamauchi. ‘But the design presentations internally in Toyota for the Toyota Supra were actually done using Gran Turismo. It wasn’t a powerpoint, they already had a running version of it in Gran Turismo to show to the president of the company.’

Keep reading for everything else we know about the real car. 

Toyota Supra: everything else you need to know

Toyota finally pulled the covers – and the camo – off the new A90-generation Supra coupe at the 2019 NAIAS Detroit motor show, after one of the longest dripfeed teaser campaigns in living memory. After so many leaks and public appearances, the new Supra probably looks quite familiar to you already – but underneath it features a strong resemblence to BMW's latest Z4 roadster, too. That's because both cars were developed jointly.

New Toyota Supra: the basics

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, Toyota has long hinted at the return of the Supra. The road up to the point of official reveal of the A90 has been, frankly, exhausting. First there were the rumours, then announcements, then our spyshots, then Toyota's own spyshots, then the public appearances, then the Gran Turismo appearances... this may have been the longest and leakiest car teaser campaign in recent history and one we at CAR are very glad to see the back of.

So, the Toyota Supra is an all-new sports coupe from Japan and the fifth to carry the Supra name. Toyota worked in partnership with BMW to get it off the ground, with Munich working on making the next-generation Z4 roadster.

Toyota Supra rear quarter location

The two share a platform and engines but, visually, there are far more differences than similarities. Toyota says the styling comes under its ‘Condensed Extreme’ design language, with a stretching bonnet, double-bubble roofline and stubby rear all present and correct.

The Condensed Extreme name points to the short wheelbase, low and wide footprint and massive wheels that fill the bulbous arches. Europe will have those black-and-metal alternating 19-inch rims as standard. The headlamps are heavily stylised while the grille, front and bonnet are punctured with numerous cooling vents to feed the engine, brakes and radiators with air.

The footprint of the car is in what’s apparently called the ‘Golden Ratio’ for handling prowess – the ratio between wheelbase length and wheel tread width – with the bookends being 1.5 and 1.6. The Supra is bang in the middle at 1.55.

Toyota Supra grey front end

‘We wanted to make it so at a glance you recognise it, so we went through many discussions with the designer of the car and this is how we came up with the design,’ says Chief Engineer, Tetsuya Tada. ‘There were some focal points or cues of the design taken from the previous Supra. For example, the rear fender, where we had that kind of volume; we said that’s the sexy part of the design, so we tried to have some cues.’

Give me engines and specs!

For now, just one engine is official: a 3.0-litre straight-six turbo with 335bhp and 369lb ft for the GR Supra. If those power figures sound familiar, that’s because they’re the same as the M40i version of the BMW Z4. And quite a few other 40i BMW models, too, like the M140i and M240i, for that matter.

In the Supra, that power goes to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission – there’s no manual version thus far. Toyota claims the GR Supra will hit 62mph in 4.3 seconds. There’s also launch control and, like the GT86, a Track setting for the traction control that ensures less electronic interference. Euro-spec Supras will also feature an active differential for the driven wheels.

Four-cylinder Supras already confirmed

As expected, the new Supra will be offered in more than just the inline-six initially announced to the public. At Detroit, Toyota confirmed the new coupe would also be available with a four-cylinder turbocharged powerplant too – though it’s currently just for the Japanese market.

In the Japanese market, the RZ tops the range with the inline-six, but after that, and SZ-R comes in with 255bhp and a SZ model brings 194bhp. As for performance? Expect the more powerful inline-four to get from 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds with the slower one hitting 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. Good, but not the 4.3sec of the top model. 


Toyota’s figures have the SZ-R weighing 70kg less than the RZ and the SZ weighing 110kg less – and interestingly putting it around the same weight as the GT86.

CAR understands both these models are using BMW’s B48d 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. A hardcore GRMN model is in the pipeline, too.

In other news, there could still be a manual transmission in the pipeline, because Toyota has already developed it. However, the decision to offer it is still very much up in the air, and the manual 'box does make it to production, it could only be available on right-hand drive cars: good news for us Japanese and British folk, but not the American or continental European markets...

‘[A manual ‘box] is not yet finally decided, and depending on feedback from the market, we will decide if we should introduce a manual transmission,' Kai said in an interview to Car Advice.

Toyota Supra rear end

‘We have developed it, yes, there is hardware ready. Right-hand drive? Yes, of course. It needs to be sold in Japan, which is a right-hand drive market.’ So the jury’s out…

But I thought...

Yes, we thought a manual was out of the question, too. A few months ago an interview with Toyota chief engineer Tada and Japanese magazine Info Seek stated there wouldn’t be a manual ‘box. When asked in spring 2018 if the new Supra would be coming with a manual transmission, Tada replied: ‘At the moment, it is not; it is just a dual-clutch transmission.’

Toyota Supra red overhead

Tada went on to say that’s partly because the new car could produce too much torque for a manual gearbox. However, we have since learned that the BMW Z4 will offer a manual option in future. Watch this space...

Will the new Supra feel like a proper sports car?

Engineers cite that a 50:50 weight distribution was a key objective of the new shared Toyota-BMW rear-wheel drive architecture and torsional rigidity is said to surpass that of the composite-bodied LF-A, which bodes well for handling and poise on the road. But, apart from that, the cars should drive very differently according to the respective engineers.

Read our prototype drive of the new A90 Toyota Supra

Toyota is confident we’ll be able to notice the differences between the two straight away. ‘In terms of calibration and other areas we take a completely different approach,’ Tada reassured CAR magazine. ‘You will feel like you’re in a different car with different tastes.’

Whereas the Z4 prototype we’ve driven appears to be a sporty, elegant convertible, the Supra is going to be a far more focused sports car. ‘We’ve not considered things like practicality or comfort,’ Tada says, while adding that the Z4 is designed for a totally different audience.

Let’s talk Toyota Supra interior and equipment

It's a properly driver-centric cockpit inside, with enough Toyota bits to make it less obvious where the BMW bits are. Like the headlight buttons, iDrive screen and centre console switchgear, gear selector and air-con dials.

Toyota has confirmed there are two different trim variants of the new A90 Supra. For the GR model revealed first, there are standard and Pro models, with the latter being the much more lavishly-equipped one.

Toyota Supra interior

Active has dual-zone air-con, keyless entry and start, adaptive LED headlights, adaptive cruise, a huge suite of safety kit and an 8.8-inch infotainment system. Alcantara seats are standard, too.

As for Premium, you get leather seats, a JBL audio upgrade, head-up display and a wireless phone charger. All very on-trend.

For those who didn’t get enough of the whole teaser campaign, Toyota is also offering an ultra-exclusive A90 edition to celebrate the car’s fetching modern camouflage while out on events like the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed. The A90 Edition will have bespoke Storm Grey matte paint, matte black alloys, red leather upholstery and kit that matches the Premium grade. Just 90 will be available.

Twinned with BMW: why the Z4 and Supra share DNA

It has been no secret that BMW and Toyota teamed up to create the new Z4/Supra platform, and the reasons behind the collaboration were largely financial. It’s a reflection of a shrinking global market for sports cars that two giants of manufacturing are teaming up to get the efficiencies of scale required to get the project off the ground.

Our BMW Z4 roadster review

However, it appears that the initial desire to save costs and share parts meant the joint project got off to a less than ideal start. ‘We started discussions with BMW saying “Let’s increase the amount of shared parts, let’s make everything efficient” – that was the starting point,’ explains Tada-san. ‘It didn’t quite match, and there was one instance where BMW came up and said – what do you want? It seems like you're making compromises for the sake of efficiency.’

Toyota Supra red rear quarter

After that, Toyota and BMW began to develop the individual cars they wanted, and then looked for common areas where it made sense to share hardware.

New Supra in motorsport

Meet the GT4 ‘concept’ of the Toyota Supra, designed primarily for privateer racing teams. It now brings us up to a NASCAR Supra, a GT3 Concept Supra, Super GT Concept Supra, a TRD-Performance Supra, a Toyota FT-1 Vision GT (although technically not a Supra), the road car – and now this GT4 model, of course. Scroll down for more details on those. 

Toyota Supra GT4 at Geneva 2019

Anyway, as you’d expect from a race car, it’s lower and longer than the stock model, keeps the same MacPherson strut front and multilink rear suspension – but adds competition springs, shock absorbers and anti-roll bars.

We’re told the engine is unchanged but this GT4 Supra has a more aggressive ECU-brain, though Toyota don’t state how much power this car actually makes.

If you want one, you’ll have to make yourself heard. Toyota says it’s evaluating interest from potential customers before it decides to put it in production.

Keep reading for everything else you need to know about the Toyota Supra, and its various guises.

Super GT concept

At the 2019 Tokyo Auto Salon, Toyota showed off the Super GT Concept. If you’re unfamiliar with Super GT, think silhouettes with DTM aero, close to LMP2 speed and you’re pretty much there. Last year’s championship was won by Honda’s NSX with Jenson Button and Naoki Yamamoto sharing driving duties - and it’s also where Nissan’s Jann Mardenborough does his racing. Essentially, it’s an important and hugely popular sport in Japan.

The new car will represent the Toyota marque’s return to the top GT500 class of Super GT after a long absence; for the last few years Lexus has taken part in the series instead, and currently uses an extreme version of its RC F coupe.

Toyota Supra Super GT Concept

What’s more, with a shake-up in the WEC rules imminent, it appears Toyota is doubling down on the endurance class. Alongside the new GRMN racing concept which is set to race in the new higher tier of the sport, the new Supra will also complete in the GTE class. That means Toyota will be represented in both classes.

And it looks like Toyota is taking the GTE class very seriously; we were told that designers have gone back and forth between the race car and production car, making sure the GTE version had the best possible platform to work with. Most of the air inlets on the road car were positioned strategically for the GTE version.

Don't forget the Supra TRD

Revealed at the Osaka Auto Messe car show in Japan, you’re looking at the new Toyota Supra Performance Line Concept, which is essentially the entire TRD catalogue draped onto the stock car.

Toyota Supra prototype review: we drive an early test car

Just like BMW’s M Performance parts, much of the kit appears to be carbonfibre icing on top of the Supra’s already rather muscular body. But aside from the aero furniture, the TRD car also gets massive 19-inch rims with a thin smear of Michelin rubber. There’s no word on any weight savings, or performance gains of the Supra TRD – but we'll update this story when we know more.

Turn left! Supra coming to NASCAR

At this year’s Le Mans 24-hour race, Supra engineering chief Tada confirmed the car would race in the WEC GTE class – and we know it’s going to race in NASCAR, too. Toyota has confirmed the Supra would compete in the Nascar Xfinity series, replacing the Camry silhouette it currently uses. And you’ll be able to see the Supra Nascar on track on 16 February 2019.

‘When you talk Toyota and cool cars, Supra is the first thing that comes to mind for many auto enthusiasts,’ said Ed Laukes, group vice president of Toyota marketing. ‘Supra’s return in production form is huge news, but now we’re also going to see this iconic sports car return to American motorsport. From a marketing perspective, it’s important to have a race car that evokes the dynamism and character of its showroom counterpart.’

Toyota Supra nascar

Toyota Supra UK price and release date

You've been able to pre-order the new Supra for a few months now, with deposits being taken in Britain since autumn 2018.

Toyota says 300 out of the first 900 that are bound for Europe are coming to the UK, with a price tag of £52,695. It's £54,000 for the Pro variant and £56,945 for the ultra-limited A90 Edition. Deliveries are expected in Europe from late summer.

Those first 900 owners in Europe will ‘enjoy a number of special benefits’, according to Toyota, ‘they will be given access to an exclusive experience programme and money-can’t-buy rewards in the lead-up to delivery.’

Check out our Toyota reviews

By Jake Groves

CAR's staff writer, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches

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