Toyota's Supra Strip Tease Is Starting to Get Really Frustrating
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.
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It's automatic-only; it's dead on arrival.
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.