Toyota's Supra Strip Tease Is Starting to Get Really Frustrating

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

It’s understandable that an automaker would want to prolong the unveiling of a hotly anticipated model. After all, building suspense is essential when marketing a vehicle that’s exciting but lacks broad appeal. This is why Dodge was so fastidious in its debut of the Hellcat and Demon, parsing out just enough information to keep us fed without ever letting us get full.

By contrast, Toyota’s preliminary marketing of the Supra started with as few details as possible and has continued starving us of all meaningful information. That’s partly because the vehicle is a sister car to the new BMW Z4 — and sharing details of one model means giving away the goods on the other. Despite this, Magna Steyr (tasked with manufacturing both vehicles) isn’t building two identical models with different badges. The Supra’s chief engineer, Tetsuya Tada, describes the Supra as a pure sports car where practicality and comfort are almost not considered.

That sounds very exciting, so it was a relief when we learned the car will finally see daylight at the Goodwood Festival of Speed later this week. Unfortunately, Toyota clarified on Monday that the vehicle we’ll see wouldn’t be a production vehicle and will remain wrapped in red camouflage.

The endless strip tease Toyota’s conducting with the Supra is encroaching on infuriating. While we’ve seen a racing concept and shell to be used for NASCAR, we still know very little about the car. Is there something wrong with it, or have Toyota and BMW gone full-blown Alphonse and Gaston and found themselves perpetually waiting for the other party to go first?

“After you, Toyota.”

“No, you first, my dear BMW!”

In some ways, we’ve only ourselves to blame for our present frustration. It was rumored that the Z4 would be unveiled before the Supra, making the Goodwood release a bit premature. But Toyota Europe said it would be there. Any resulting confusion is totally understandable.

So, what exactly will the good people in attendance be privy to?

According to Toyota, there will be a camouflaged Supra prototype running the festival’s hill course a few times per day with Tetsuya Tada or Herwig Daenens behind the wheel. No production model, no official specs, and probably extremely limited public access to the vehicle. Attendees will, however, be able to get an close-up look at the Toyota GR Supra Racing Concept — which we’ve already seen.

The production vehicle is supposed to begin delivery in less than a year and the company has given us precious little to cling to, despite years of hype. We’re presuming it’ll have a 3.0-liter inline six shared with the BMW and a four-cylinder variant for cash-strapped customers. But these are details that have been cobbled together though industry rumors, tidbits BMW let slip, and playing the odds.

All Toyota has said is that the returning Supra would share its powertrain and platform with the Z4 but be subject to its own suspension, software, and tuning — resulting in a more hardcore machine.

We hope we’re able to learn something about it beyond what it might look like in regular paint someday. But it’s just getting increasingly difficult to care. You can only dangle a shiny object in front of our faces for so long before we lose interest and, while we understand the need for discretion, we need details to latch onto. Confirming that it will have the inline six and rear-wheel drive months after we put that together ourselves isn’t enough.

[Images: Toyota]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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2 of 11 comments
  • IBx1 IBx1 on Jul 11, 2018

    It's automatic-only; it's dead on arrival.

  • Carroll Prescott Carroll Prescott on Jul 11, 2018

    So right now we have the Supra at its best possible look - fully covered - and judging from what I see, the NASCAR version is a complete fraud. It is sad that NASCAR no longer has rules of any merit - it nitpicks the drivers and teams but gives carte blanche to the manufacturers to run whatever they want regardless of its production - the introduction of the Chevrolet SS was a complete joke in NASCAR - from February until the last day of October, not one SS had ever been sold to the public. At the end of October, exactly 1 sold (likely to the Hendrick Mafia owner, Rick "The convicted felon" Hendrick. So Toyoduh will make a further mockery of the WWF on wheels.

  • ToolGuy First picture: I realize that opinions vary on the height of modern trucks, but that entry door on the building is 80 inches tall and hits just below the headlights. Does anyone really believe this is reasonable?Second picture: I do not believe that is a good parking spot to be able to access the bed storage. More specifically, how do you plan to unload topsoil with the truck parked like that? Maybe you kids are taller than me.
  • ToolGuy The other day I attempted to check the engine oil in one of my old embarrassing vehicles and I guess the red shop towel I used wasn't genuine Snap-on (lots of counterfeits floating around) plus my driveway isn't completely level and long story short, the engine seized 3 minutes later.No more used cars for me, and nothing but dealer service from here on in (the journalists were right).
  • Doughboy Wow, Merc knocks it out of the park with their naming convention… again. /s
  • Doughboy I’ve seen car bras before, but never car beards. ZZ Top would be proud.
  • Bkojote Allright, actual person who knows trucks here, the article gets it a bit wrong.First off, the Maverick is not at all comparable to a Tacoma just because they're both Hybrids. Or lemme be blunt, the butch-est non-hybrid Maverick Tremor is suitable for 2/10 difficulty trails, a Trailhunter is for about 5/10 or maybe 6/10, just about the upper end of any stock vehicle you're buying from the factory. Aside from a Sasquatch Bronco or Rubicon Jeep Wrangler you're looking at something you're towing back if you want more capability (or perhaps something you /wish/ you were towing back.)Now, where the real world difference should play out is on the trail, where a lot of low speed crawling usually saps efficiency, especially when loaded to the gills. Real world MPG from a 4Runner is about 12-13mpg, So if this loaded-with-overlander-catalog Trailhunter is still pulling in the 20's - or even 18-19, that's a massive improvement.