Toyota is signalling its return to the high-performance sports-car market with a racing concept at the Geneva Motor Show. The car will provide the biggest clues yet as to the direction of the hotly anticipated new Toyota Supra.
So far, Toyota has released a single teaser image (above) of the ‘modern racing concept’, but the swoopy shape appears similar to the Toyota FT-1 concept, first shown in 2014.
It"s likely the new Toyota Supra will carry Gazoo Racing branding to emphasise its position as Toyota’s sporty flagship, joining the Toyota Yaris GRMN in the stable.
Carbuyer understands Gazoo – Toyota’s high-performance and motorsport division – was called upon during development to make sure the new Supra was as exciting to drive as possible.
“The new car has to appeal to existing [Supra] owners first,” said Gazoo Racing boss Shigeki Tomoyama, speaking to Carbuyer at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show. “The old cars had a straight-six engine, twin turbochargers and rear-wheel drive; the new car has to have the same philosophy.”
Insiders suggest the new Supra will be available in four key versions: Supra, Supra GR, Supra GR Sport and Supra GRMN, each with increased power and more aggressive chassis settings.
It’s also likely that Gazoo Racing will offer a range of official tuning and styling parts for the Supra when it arrives, much like those currently offered for models like the Toyota GT86.
Absent from Toyota’s showrooms for a decade and a half, the Supra name carries a huge amount of goodwill. Previous iterations of the Supra offered a Porsche-like driving experience at a significant discount, and also had a reputation for reliability that was almost unheard of given the car’s performance.
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But while the name may be familiar, Toyota’s approach for the new Supra is fresh. It’s being developed in conjunction with the forthcoming BMW Z4 and is expected to offer buyers a hybrid option when it goes on sale in 2019.
That hybrid option is one of many differences between the new Supra and the new Z4, as the BMW is expected to be sold exclusively with in-line four and six-cylinder engines.
And while the Z4 will be return to its soft-top roadster roots, the Supra will be a fixed-roof coupe. It’s also thought the Supra will be the larger of the two cars, sitting on a stretched version of the same chassis. This, together with the nature of its roof, should make it better suited to grand, continent-crossing tours, while the Z4 is more likely to be an out-and-out sports car.
A BMW insider told Carbuyer that the Z4 will use: “the same lightweight body construction as the i3 and i8". That means both cars will use the know-how BMW has gleaned from its investment in carbon-fibre technology.Design and styling
The Toyota Supra is widely expected to adopt the look of the Toyota FT-1 concept (pictured below), albeit slightly toned down. This was first shown at the Detroit Motor Show in 2014.
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With striking styling, the FT-1 boasted a retractable rear wing to aid high-speed stability and large intakes to provide cooling for the brakes and engine. The concept featured a wraparound windscreen and its side windows were a nod to Toyota’s first sports car, the 2000GT.
The driver sits low in the passenger compartment, helping to lower the car’s centre of gravity and the FT-1 also featured advanced technology including a head-up display.Release date
While the next BMW Z4 is slated for a 2018 release, Carbuyer understands that the closely related Supra could arrive as late as the latter half of 2019.