Toyota Supra (A90): Here’s The Big Deal

Toyota has never been a stranger to me. I grew up around Toyotas most of my child & teenage life. My father transferred to the ‘yota lifestyle after ending a 5 year relationship with Vauxhall. His first Toyota was a bright blue Corolla E100 – a car which was then replaced by an Avensis T220. Then after a devastating gearbox failure was replaced by – in a strange turn of events – a Ford Mondeo, which then catastrophically failed with an issue related to the dual mass flywheel. Naturally of course, he returned to Toyota with the Corolla 3ZZ-FE and finally settled to this date with an Auris. Every time my old man bought a new car he always lit up with joy with the sticker in the rear window: “The car in front is a TOYOTA“, It was certainly something to take pride in.

But the Supra in front isn’t a Toyota. The A90, if anything, is a shell of it’s former self.

Full disclosure before I begin; I’ve never driven a Supra, and the likelihood of me ever driving one is pretty slim. The closest I’ve gotten to driving one is probably only in video games. That being said, it doesn’t mean I’m not aware of what a Supra is and what it means to many car fanatics around the world.

Addressing the Elephant in the Room

The new Toyota GR Supra, as seen from behind. Image courtesy of Sebastiaan Stam

The new GR Supra, in every conceivable way, is quite clearly a BMW. I’m not just talking about the engine… everything, aside from the overall design of the exterior is a BMW. I have no quarrel with BMW, in fact, I think their machines are astounding and are probably some of the most well built vehicles out on the road today. For some time, I actually backed the idea of a BMW engine in the new Supra, I thought to myself, “wow, that’ll actually be an interesting mix, a Toyota with a well established manufacturer’s engine”. That was until I realised it wasn’t just the engine the A90 was using.

An article on Auto Express outlines how the new Supra uses the same 3.0 litre straight-six used in the Z4. Along with that, an 8-speed Friedrichshafen ZF gearbox, and the cabin similarities between the GR Supra & Z4. Another article from Auto Evolution outlines the use of BMW’s Cluster Architecture within the Supra’s diagrams.

The thing is, it’s not unusual for manufacturers to share from the parts bin. For example, my car is anything but fully developed by its manufacturer. It has an engine developed by Fiat and a quite honestly, abysmal gearbox made by Getrag (points for guessing what car I have based on those two details). What is unusual – this is Toyota. Famed for their in-house production, it’s rare to see them pick from the parts bin. Much like my father’s first Corolla, it made use of Toyota’s very own engine from its ‘E’ line-up – something that’s carried on to the latest Corolla, running on Toyota’s very own NR/ZR family.

A Toyota hybrid engine bay.
Toyota Hybrid engine bay. Image courtesy of PhotoMIX

Why the Big Deal?

“It’s not a two-jay-zee!” I hear people scream. That, in my opinion, is not the big deal. The Supra is what many fans would consider to be a legend, and the new Supra certainly takes design interpretation from another Japanese legend – the 2000GT. Don’t get me wrong, the GR Supra is beautiful – I would happily be sat behind one on my regular commute. It truly is astonishing to look at. But that’s about it, the development of the new Supra may as well have been maintained entirely by BMW. It’s easy to see why so many die-hard fans have been left disappointed by this peculiar choice by Toyota.

A transition between the BMW Z4 and Toyota Supra

The big deal is that there was so much potential. The pioneers of the popularity behind the hybrid car – a technology recently incorporated into many hypercars and yet no effort was made to create a hybrid “Super-Supra”. The idea had been toyed with before in previous concepts but unfortunately never really saw the light of day. Something bold and striking should have been done for the 17 year gap between new and old. With electric cars slowly phasing out petrol/diesel this could have been a chance for Toyota to demonstrate something truly impressive, something that could rival the likes of the new Tesla Roadster. Of course, we didn’t get that, we didn’t get something bold and incredible. We instead got what is essentially, at its core, a rebadged BMW Z4. The car in front is not a Toyota.


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