2020 Toyota Supra marks the return of a legend
It’s finally here. Yes, the wait is over. The eagle — oops, Toyota’s 2020 Supra — has landed.
It’s had something of a long gestation period has the Supra. First rumoured in 2007 when Toyota released the FT-HS concept and further stoked in 2010 when the company applied for a trademark of the Supra name, the anticipation reached a fevered pitch right here in Detroit at the 2014 North American International Auto Show, when Toyota took the wraps off the stunning FT-1. Well, the production version is finally here, and other than the alterations required to render it a practical street car — mostly making it taller so real human beings might have some headroom — the new Supra remains admirably faithful to the achingly gorgeous FT-1.
All of the strakes, louvres and air inlets are present and accounted for, albeit a little diminished in outright size. The nose remains aggressive, the flip-up spoiler impressive and those outrageous rear fenders almost as bulbous. Like all Supras past, the new GR version takes much of its inspiration — such as the iconic “double-bubble” roof — from the rare-as-hen’s-teeth (only 351 were ever made, says Toyota) 2000 GT. Indeed, other than a Kammback vaguely reminiscent of the Z4 M Coupe, there’s precious little to the new Supra that says built by BMW.
Of course, the new Supra is BMW-based (albeit further developed by Toyota’s Gazoo Racing division). That’s not such a bad thing, since that means the new Supra, like previous iterations, will be powered by an inline six-cylinder engine. In this case, it is Munich’s twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre massaged for 335 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque, mated to an eight-speed paddle-shifted automatic transmission. Toyota says that’s good enough for a 4.1-second sprint to 60 mph (96 km/h) while the top speed of the 1,544-kilogram Supra is electronically limited to 250 km/h.
Harnessing all that torque is a chassis perfectly balanced with a 50:50 weight distribution, fully adaptive suspension and a standard active differential. Two driving modes will be available; Sport mode reduces intervention of the traction/stability control functions, as well as sharpening throttle response, increasing steering weight, improving shifting and tuning the active differential for more aggressive lockup.
Though the chassis is designed by BMW, Toyota’s calibration of the front struts and the multi-link rear suspension is unique. The tuning of the active differential — controlled by the ECU and managed by an electric motor/multi-plate clutches — is specific to the Supra and can be varied between zero and 100 per cent locked. Riding on wide — 275/35R19s in the rear and 255/35R19s up front — Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, there should be plenty of traction for what Toyota promises is “optimized kinematics.”
Perhaps the most interesting statement in the extensive press material that accompanied the Supra’s launch, however, was this: “Like its 1990s predecessor, the 2020 Toyota Supra will be equipped as a premium GT, with a deft balance of function and premium comfort and convenience features.” Now, while it’s nice to know that Toyota will think of all our creature comforts, what’s more interesting is that this new version would seem to be targeted at the older crowd who drove previous-generation Supras in their formative years.
Indeed, it seems that Toyota will leave the entry-level segment to its 86 — whose engineering, by the way, was also farmed out, in this case to Subaru — and the Supra will be its movin’-on-up sportster as well as a fully equipped competitor to BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and even lesser Porsches. Considering its amazingly-faithful-to-concept styling and the proven pedigree of its powertrain, I’d say it’s going to be enormously successful.