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New Toyota Supra: everything you need to know

Published: 18 July 2018

► New 2019 Toyota Supra in detail
► Shared parts with the BMW Z4

► On UK sale first half of 2019

The Toyota Supra is one of the most iconic names in Toyota’s long history, and in 2018 - 40 years after the first model was unveiled - we’re getting a new one. The next Supra is a joint project with the forthcoming BMW Z4, and as it nears production, we’re learning more and more about what could be next year’s most exciting sports car. On this page you'll find everything you need to know about the new car – and we mean literally everything. 

Is it out yet?

Not exactly... The new 2019 Toyota Supra made regular runs up the hill at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed - and we can now vouch for what looks like hard acceleration and a multi-cylinder engine rasp on work-outs up the Duke of Richmond's driveway.

We already knew the new Supra was being co-developed alongside the next BMW Z4, but Toyota has now gone on record to say the 'new Toyota Supra will be faithful to its heritage with an inline, front-mounted six-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive.' Phew.

Read our guide to the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed here

Toyota Supra at 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed

Goodwood marked the very first time the actual Supra production car has been seen anywhere in the world. Driven by chief engineer Tetsuya Tada and the company's superbly named 'master driver' Herwig Daenens, you can see a picture of it in its camo'd livery above. 

The CAR lowdown

At this year’s Le Mans 24 Hour race, we sat down to talk Supra with Tada, the chief engineer of the project and the GT86. From transmission and engine details, to the development process and a forthcoming GRMN version, he revealed several new nuggets about the new Toyota Supra.

The relationship with BMW

It’s no secret that BMW and Toyota have teamed up to create the new Z4/Supra platform, and the reasons behind the collaboration are 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.

Gazoo Racing are testing the new 2019 Toyota Supra extensively at the Nurburgring

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.’

After that, Toyota and BMW began to develop the car they wanted, and then looked for common areas where it made sense to share hardware. Our spy photos reveal the latest look at the new 2+2 sports car, as engineers hone it before final sign-off.

There won’t be as many parts shared as you think; we’re told that the new Supra now only shares six - six! - components with the Z4. There's the engine and transmission, just the door mirrors and two others parts that are common between them.

(Okay, we're being generous by swallowing the engine being one component line).


What about the Toyota Supra engine and transmission? 

The Supra shares the same engine and transmission as the latest BMW Z4, so expect a range-topping turbocharged inline six coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission. We've seen the new the Z4 snapped in development with a six-speed manual, but CAR understands it's unlikley to make it to production at this stage. Shame.

Rumours suggest that the Supra will feature a mixture of four- and six-cylinder BMW units, mostly turbocharged and available with dual-clutch transmissions. This suggests they might launch with a toppy six-pot, and then grow sales/stretch the range with four-cylinder engines in due course.

What, no manual gearbox?

An interview with Toyota chief engineer Tada and Japanese magazine Info Seek, claims it almost certaintly won't. 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.’

Tada goes on to say that’s partly because the new car could produce too much torque for a manual gearbox. A manual gearbox could however appear on the more hardcore GRMN version of the car. 

Will it still feel like a Toyota Supra?

Engineers cite a 50:50 weight distribution as being a key objective of the new shared Toyota-BMW rear-wheel drive architecture, 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.

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.

What will the new 2018 Toyota Supra look like?

First hinted at with the  FT-1 concept, and then again with the Supra Racing concept (above), the general look of Toyota’s next sports car is already out in the open. But at Le Mans, we dug out more insight into how it was designed.

‘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 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.’

And inside the new Supra’s cabin?

Our trickle of spy photos shows the car's cabin lightly disguised by camo. Despite that disguise, you can still see the Toyota’s steering wheel and dial layout – and see the car’s automatic transmission gear selector.

From what we can see, the new Supra looks to have a relatively conventional interior, with rather modern cockpit dials.

It’s an interesting take for Toyota, and presumably a little bolder than the interior of the BMW Z4 – the Supra’s sister car.

Hotter Toyota Supra GRMN version on the way

The Supra is already shaping up to be a high-performance sports car, but Tada confirmed a GRMN model will also be on the way – eventually.

Expect the sort of tweaks we’ve already seen on the Toyota Yaris GRMN but turned up to 11, and coming a little while after the standard production car.

Supra will go GTE racing too

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.

Likely Toyota Supra UK price and release date

While we’re not sure yet of the exact price at this stage, we can at least estimate it. The original model was a rather pricey £40,000 when it launched a quarter of a century ago – the same as a contemporary Lotus Esprit – and that gives an inflation-adjusted figure of £55,000 for a 2019 version of the car. Of course, the final UK price will depend on the models it’s being targeted against, too.

When can you buy the new Supra in the UK? Toyota has now confirmed it 'expects its new Toyota Supra to reach the market during the first half of 2019.' So not long to wait now...

Toyota Supra: bound for Nascar racing future

At this year’s Le Mans 24-hour race, Supra engineering chief Tada confirmed the car would race in the WEC GTE class – but now 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.’

Of course, the Nascar version of the Supra only shares a rough silhouette and design features with the road car, but there are still some interesting details. Most notably, the front and rear lights of the Nascar racer mirror that of the Supra Racing Concept we saw earlier this year, as well as other prototypes we’ve seen. At this point, we’ve got a very good idea of what the new Supra will look like.

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast

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