As shutters around the world go up against pandemic and intellectual property pirates, automobile manufacturers increasingly are opening to the sharing of ideas, design and technology.
For years, rising costs of new-vehicle development have opened the borders between what were once bitter rivals with sharing on an industrial scale: think Ford and Mazda with Ranger and BT-50 utes, Toyota and Subaru with the 86 and BRZ sports cars. And who can forget Holden and Toyota badge engineering Apollo / Camry and Nova / Corolla during the Button Plan days?
Now, Toyota is at it again, this time building the new version of its iconic Supra sports coupe around a German chassis and engine. And those familiar with European performance car influence will immediately pick up the BMW Z4 in its Japanese counterpart.
The Supra GR comes to market in Australia in two variants, the GT and GTS, both selling for less than 100 grand. The GT is $84,600 and the GTS $94,600, not including on-roads. The German cousin, the Z4 3.0 M40i, clears the bar at $127,900.
Powered by a 250 kW / 500 Nm turbo-petrol 3.0-litre straight six, the GR Supra puts this prodigious power to ground through the rear wheels via a new quick-shifting, sports-tuned eight-speed automatic transmission.
With limited-slip differential and adaptive suspension, launch control serves up a zero-to-100 km/h sprint in a nippy 4.3 seconds. And how did the GTS on test go? Read on..
While the Supra GR shares engine and chassis with the BMW Z4, Toyota insists there was no compromise with its design as a classic sports car with long, bonnet, swept back cabin and low beltline.
With a nod to Toyota’s sports car heritage dating back to the 1967 2000GT with its double bubble roof, the new Supra takes into account the aerodynamics and balance needed for high performance driving on road or racetrack.
The low centre-of-gravity necessary for true sports performance, Toyota dropped the running ground clearance below its usual standard minimum of 130mm to just 119mm.
The GTS rolls on 19-inch forged alloy wheels shod with low profile Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres specifically tuned for Supra and featuring a bespoke compound to offer outstanding grip. Sports brakes with red brake calipers peer out from within.
The new Supra is offered in a choice of seven standard colours, plus an optional matte grey for the GTS, named after iconic racetracks. Chosen by Toyota Australia employees. They are Fuji White, Suzuka Silver, Goodwood Grey, Monza Red, Silverstone Yellow, Le Mans Blue, Bathurst Black and Nurburg Matte Grey.
The cabin décor is basic black, broken up by splashes of race-bred design such as carbon fibre-look trim. Leather-accented, heated sports seats are eight-way power adjustable.
A leather-accented three-spoke sports steering wheel is well placed with controls and transmission paddle shifts, while the GTS adds sports accelerator and brake pedals. The instrument cluster is uncluttered and straightforward in its layout of digital speedo and analogue petrol and temperature gauge.
Dual zone climate control keeps driver and passenger comfy and wireless phone charger, Front and rear 12-volt accessory sockets and USB power socket with input for infotainment top up the list of accessories.
Front and centre is an 8.8-inch touchscreen multimedia display, which is also accessed through a large control knob, surrounded by system access buttons, on the centre console.
As in the majority of modern cars, Bluetooth connectivity is a given, embedded satellite navigation a welcome inclusion and voice recognition a bonus. The GTS is fitted with a Premium JBL AM / FM / DAB+ audio delivering Surround Sound through 12 speakers.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The GTS is powered by the tried-and-tested BMW 3.0-litre six-cylinder inline engine found in the top-spec Z4. Maximum power of 250 kW comes up between 5000 and 6500 rpm, while top torque of 500 Nm is on tap from 1600 to 4500 revs.
Five-star safety starts with seven airbags (driver and passenger, front, front side, side curtain, and driver, knee).
Autonomous emergency braking features front collision warning with daytime pedestrian and cyclist detection. A pop-up bonnet helps to minimise injuries here if an accident occurs.
In addition, ABS anti-skid braking with brake assist, vehicle stability control, traction control, active cornering assist and brake standby, fade and drying functions are on hand.
The driver has access to speed limit info via a head-up display and a speed limiter can be brought into play, together with active cruise control at all speeds. Lane departure alert includes steering assist, the latter, which some drivers could find intrusive, can be switched off.
Front and rear parking and clearance sonars with rear-end collision warning is augmented by rear cross-traffic alert and reversing camera. A blind spot monitor shows when it’s safe to pull out and hill-start assist holds the vehicle when setting off on an incline.
Strap in, this could be a wild ride! That was easier said than done in the test Supra, with the seatbelt clasps nestling deep in the space between the two seats and transmission tunnel. Small fingers made them hard to reach; large hands, difficult to fiddle with the belt clips.
Press the start/stop button on the dashboard and the engine leaps into life with a breathy rasp, that rises to a roar as the revs mount.
With maximum power of 250 kW between 5000 and 6500 rpm and a 7000 km/h red line there is no argument about the Supra’s sporting prowess. However, surprisingly, thanks to a flat torque curve (500 Nm at 1600 to 4500 revs), the coupe is almost Camry-like in its easy-going attitude to stop / start city living.
Combined urban / highway fuel consumption on 95 RON petrol is put at 7.7 litres per 100 kilometres by Toyota. Securely ensconced in eighth gear at motorway speeds the Supra test car clocked up an average fuel consumption of 5.6 litres per 100 kilometres. Which ran out to 10-plus in town, still now bad and indicating the clever engineering in the powerplant.
Toyota Supra handling is spot on, with an active limited-slip differential and adaptive suspension working with the GTS 19-inch wheels wrapped in specially developed Michelin tyres, plus 50 / 50 weight distribution ensuring top-notch traction, stability, responsiveness and balance for road or track.
The driver’s view out of the rear window is constrained, because of the steeply sloping roofline. Reversing camera with guidelines and rear parking alarms were put to full use on test. As was the sharp GTS-only windscreen head-up display, which included welcome speed limit warnings.
While the boot is big (290 litres) for a car of its type, the opening is pinched and not welcoming of bulky items. Cabin storage consists of passenger-side glovebox with seven-litre capacity and rear parcel shelf behind the seats.
The Supra is one of the few non-European sports cars that could do justice to the BMW tradition in high-performance automobile engineering. Well done, Toyota.
AT A GLANCE
Toyota Supra GR GT $84,900
Toyota Supra GR GTS $94,900
Nurburgring Matte Grey paint $2500
Alcantara upholstery $2500
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Toyota dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Toyota Supra GR GTS 3-litre 6cyl turbocharged petrol, 8sp automatic, 2dr coupe)
Capacity: 2.998 litres
Configuration: Six cylinders inline
Maximum Power: 250 kW @ 5000-6500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 500 Nm @ 1600-4500 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.7 L/100km
DRIVELINE: Eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4379 mm
Wheelbase: 2470 mm
Width: 1854 mm
Height: 1292 mm
Turning Circle: 10.4 metres
Kerb Mass: 1495 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 52 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Five years / unlimited kilometres