Toyota engineers in Munich are collaborating with BMW on the future of the Supra.
A lot has been written about Toyota’s decision to team up with BMW to bring back the Supra using the backbone of the Z4. Some have criticized this move, saying it’s “not a real Supra,” while others are simply glad the A90 exists. A year into the life cycle of the nimble sports coupe and already there are quite a few changes for the 2021MY, including more power for the six-cylinder engine, a new base four-cylinder model, and the A91 special edition.
Toyota sat down and had a chat with members of the media – including Autoblog – to talk about the Supra, which the company sees as being a halo model. Because of its special status in the lineup, sales numbers of the rear-wheel-drive machine are not that important. Instead, the car’s positive impact on the brand’s image means more to Toyota, a company that has vowed to build a performance version of everything it sells.
Gallery: 2021 Toyota Supra A91 Edition
That’s not to say Toyota is oblivious of the volume the reborn Supra generates, claiming it’s happy with the 2,884 cars it sold during the 2019 calendar year in the United States. Bear in mind the car wasn’t available for the full 12 months as it went on sale in the second half of July and had an average transaction price of approximately $56,000 to $57,000. According to Jack Hollis, Group Vice President & General Manager, Toyota is “really pleased with the sales.”
The conversation then inevitably steered to the BMW tie-up as the press was curious to find out whether the Bavarians are still involved in the Supra’s evolution. Long story short, they very much are. According to the senior manager of vehicle product planning, the company has a team of engineers in Munich working closely together with BMW to improve the car. He made it clear that Toyota is still "wholly responsible for the tuning and chassis setup on this car.”
That being said, Jack Hollis mentioned the two automakers are gradually parting ways:
“As we go over time, there is more of a separation. While we still are bouncing our ideas off each other and sharing our information, we make an agreement to go our separate ways. It’s not devoid of conversation. It’s not devoid of engineering … chief engineer Tada and his team stay in pretty constant contact with BMW on features.”
As for the 2021 Supra, its launch in the U.S. has unsurprisingly been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Magna Steyr’s plant in Graz, Austria where the car comes to life remains closed for the time being and hopes to resume operations in the next couple of weeks. The six-cylinder Supra is still on track for a June on-sale date thanks to the 400 cars built before the factory closure, but it will be a long wait for the four-pot model. That’s because the production of the cheaper variant hasn’t started, and the COVID-19 crisis has caused a two-month delay, which means the more attainable Supra won't arrive stateside until this fall.