An icon among Japanese sports coupes may return very soon.
Update: Story now has new information to bring details about the Supra up to date as of early February 2018.
The Toyota Supra has gained legendary status in the United States since the vehicle's demise for the 1998 model year. Movies like the original The Fast and the Furious and video games like the Gran Turismo series have given the fourth generation of the sports coupe a legacy as a giant killer – capable of insane power from its biturbo inline-six engine. Now, a return of the iconic name appears to be on the horizon. Here’s everything we know about the revived Supra.
What is it?
Rumors of a Supra revival have been happening for years, but the genesis of the latest rebirth came from Toyota and BMW’s January 2013 agreement to partner on a sports car platform. The rumormill kicked into high gear a year later when Toyota debuted the FT-1 Concept at the North American International Auto Show, which looked like a perfect successor to the brand’s iconic sports coupe.
Toyota still hasn’t officially called this project the Supra, but the company’s top engineers have been pushing to put the famous name on the new vehicle. In the last couple of years, the automaker also renewed its trademark on the moniker, which eliminated any potential legal hurdles.
Whatever the company calls its sports coupe, the vehicle would at least be a spiritual successor to the Supra. The model would be the flagship in the Toyota brand’s lineup as a front-engine performance coupe.
Toyota will reveal a vehicle at the Geneva Motor Show in March that will be "a modern racing concept." The accompanying teaser image (below) shows a vehicle with a shape practically identical to spy photos of the new Supra. The addition of a giant rear spoiler is quite tantalizing because it suggests the vehicle might be even more aggressive than earlier pictures indicate.
What does it look like?
Remember the FT-1 concept? Our spy shots show that the Toyota Supra will stick pretty close to that design. Note the same classic long-hood proportions as the show car, with a rear-biased passenger compartment and double-bubble roof.
The long nose and flanking intakes provide a race-inspired appearance, and an adaptive wing slides away for a slippery silhouette. As on the concept, the trunklid is sculpted to rise up and also form the car’s rear spoiler. Though it looks like these prototypes have been toned down a teensy bit from the concept, it’s still an aggressive, modern approach to sports car design.
Spy photographers have also snapped pics of BMW’s side of the project – and even shot the cars together. The new Z4 is a two-seat roadster that reportedly takes a back-to-basics approach. Because the pair share a platform, the droptop provides a small hint at the Supra’s general size. But as these photos show, BMW will build a convertible while Toyota will offer only a coupe.
What’s under the hood?
Recent reports indicate that the Supra would use a trio of BMW-sourced engines at launch. In Europe, the base powerplant would be a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 195 horsepower (145 kilowatts). The least powerful version in America would be a tune of this mill with 248 hp (185 kW). The range-topping option around the world would be a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six with 335 hp (250 kW).
Regardless of engine, the Supra would reportedly use an eight-speed automatic gearbox for driving the rear wheels.
Rumors suggest the Toyota's Gazoo Racing motorsport division would eventually build an even more powerful version that would possibly use a turbocharged, hybrid powertrain. Toyota has filed a patent application for an electric supercharger design, leading to speculation it could be used for the Supra.
Toyota execs seem quite enthusiastic about this idea. “I do not have any doubt whatsoever that in the longer-term future there will be a real Toyota sports model using electrification,” Toyota Europe president and CEO Johan van Zyl told reporters last fall.
If you want to consider something really off the wall, one rumor even speculates the Supra could be all-wheel drive. Two electric motors in the front and one in the rear would allegedly combine with a BMW-sourced 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder. This prospect seems especially dubious to us, though, because of Toyota's assertions about the FT-1's front-engine, rear-drive layout.
When will we see it?
This is a question with clearer answer. A number of rumors tell us BMW and Toyota have a contract with Magna Steyr for assembling the Z4 and Supra. Production would begin at the company’s facility in Graz, Austria, in 2018.
Toyota's recent teaser means that the first concept for the Supra arrives very soon and provides the first real preview of the coupe's final design.