By on September 21, 2018

Shrouded in secrecy and driven by hype, the next Toyota Supra has been a tough nut to crack. However, its co-development with the BMW Z4 left us thinking we’d soon have a situation akin to the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ.

In this case, it possible that calling the cars “jointly developed” might not be entirely fair. While they share a lot of the same hardware and will be assembled at the same Magna Steyr factory in Graz, Austria, development teams severed their ties in 2014 after establishing the necessary hardpoints. Since then, they’ve adding their own secret spices to ensure a unique flavor.

Think chicken à la king and chicken korma in a best-case scenario, or chicken parmesan and chicken parmesan with a little more sauce in the worst. 

According to an interview with CNET, Supra program assistant chief engineer Masayuki Kai confirmed his team hasn’t spoken with BMW in several years.

“We agreed on the packaging,” Kai explained, “like where is the hip-point of the driver, what’s the wheelbase, the width, where’s the fuel tank, where’s the A-pillar, this was around the middle of 2014 … After that we completely separated our team. After that, no communication with each other.”

That still leaves the two cars with a lot in common, but it might be less noticeable from the driver’s seat. Toyota’s Supra is said to have unique suspension tuning, throttle response, and shift points. The precious few individuals who have driven both the Z4 and current Supra prototype seem to think the Toyota is the less plush but more serious machine for attacking a road course. But we’re waiting to hear more about the Japanese automaker’s changes to the agreed-upon package. Apparently, so is Toyota.

“Basically, the platform is the same … so we assume that we are using the same components, but as I mentioned, we are not sure that they will use the same components,” Kai explained.

Supposing we’re willing to swallow that in its entirety, then the two cars should look and behave differently. But the fact remains that Toyota is still borrowing heavily from BMW to build the new Supra. Kai could simply be trying to convince future customers that his car is more than just a Z4 wearing a different outfit. Likewise, both cars should possess adjustable driving modes that will create some serious overlap. That might limit any discernible differences in dynamics to each vehicle’s softest and hardest settings.

Officially, all Toyota has said about the Supra is that it will use a 3.0-liter single-turbo powerplant capable of over 300 horsepower and a zero-to-60 time of less than 5 seconds. A ZF eight-speed with a torque converter is the planned transmission, but Toyota could throw us a curveball before launch (doubtful). It also might introduce a manual variant, despite earlier claims that no such vehicle would be offered.

Mr. Kai has said Toyota hasn’t decided what to do about transmission options and might wait to assess market feedback before diving into anything. However, we do know the automaker has at least developed and tested a manual model for right-hand-drive markets. We just don’t know if Toyota has any intention of selling it or doing one up for left-hand drive regions.

[Image: Toyota]

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17 Comments on “Toyota Says Supra Development Team Stopped Talking to BMW Years Ago, Hasn’t Ruled Out Manual...”


  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    There’s rather a lot of room between “what’s the wheelbase, the width, where’s the fuel tank, where’s the A-pillar, … After that we completely separated our team” and “Toyota’s Supra is said to have unique suspension tuning, throttle response, and shift points”…

  • avatar
    ajla

    Which brand engineered the cooling system?

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      BMW clearly!

      So that means as long as you use the vehicle precisely as intended and service it as precisely as intended it will last as long as the engineers at BMW felt it was intended to last and not a second more.

      That is my take on German engineering after reading a response on Qoura when somebody asked “if German vehicles are considered the pinnacle of auto engineering why are they so unreliable?”

      One of the responses was from a German engineer and he proceeded to explain the difference in design philosophy between German and Japanese engineering and it boiled down to; if you ask a German to engineer a part they will engineer it as precisely as they can to your specification and if your specification doesn’t take extraneous factors into account its your problem unlike the Japanese who will design a part then try and consider how the end user is going to use it even if it wasn’t specified when the part was ordered.

      An accurate or even truthful observation? I don’t know but it sure does seem to feel like it.

  • avatar

    Looking at the two cars, and knowing the “inline-six engine” used is a BMW one, I absolutely do not believe they severed contact in 2014 and did not reestablish it.

  • avatar
    VW4motion

    BMW straight six ? And toyoder doesn’t talk to BMW. Bahaha

  • avatar
    hubcap

    “Supra program assistant chief engineer Masayuki Kai confirmed his team hasn’t spoken with BMW in several years.”

    Officially.

    Unofficially, there’s a deepthroat somewhere in the mix.

  • avatar
    Rocket

    “According to an interview with CNET, Supra program assistant chief engineer Masayuki Kai confirmed his team hasn’t spoken with BMW in several years.”

    Yeah, that’s a lie. There’s oodles of photographic evidence that BMW engineers were shaking down the Z4 and Supra side-by-side essentially right up until launch. Or are we to believe they just happened to be testing at precisely the same places at precisely the same times?

  • avatar
    EAF

    A BMW “shell” powered by a modern Toyota (maybe D4-S injected) 2JZ-GTE! That would be a powerful yet reliable combo. What gearbox was mated to the 2JZ? Was it a Getrag?

  • avatar
    JRobUSC

    This is a double edged sword. They’re saying NOW that they didn’t talk, because they want to eliminate the “that’s a Toyota Z4” or “that’s a BMW Supra” posts in internet forums. They know both cars are good, so they’re acting like they’re distinct from one another. Meanwhile, since everyone knows the two were co-developed, there’s virtually zero chance they didn’t work together throughout the process, because aside from the drivetrains, interiors, etc. all being cribbed from BMW, it was in each ones best interest to ensure the other didn’t produce a steaming pile of poo. If one sucked, then it would taint the other. No way either side was going to let that happen.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Correct. You don’t co-develop something by not talking. I’m sure engineers on both sides had constant meetings. Of course many things like the throttle mapping, suspension tuning and countless other elements will be unique, but its the same “bones” under the skin. You don’t develop something as complex as a modern car in a vacuum.

  • avatar

    Toyota is the world’s largest carmaker with unlimited resources. The car will be a success. What else is new.

    • 0 avatar

      You asserted two things in this comment, and both of them are false; one factually and the other objectively.

      The world’s largest car maker is the Renault-Nissan alliance, followed by Volkswagen. Toyota is in third place. Those are facts.

      Second, the objective part. Not all of Toyota’s models are successes. Flops that come to mind include the Lexus HS, and Lexus CT, and to a lesser extent the Lexus SC430. Then we can consider the entire Scion brand experiment.

  • avatar
    stanczyk

    This “Supra is coming” saga lasts too long.. probably longer than Toyobaru GT86 saga .. and they dont sell too well , because they are underpowered and Toyota is not “up-grading” them ..

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    Please, please, please let the new Supra look distinct! So far, even in camouflage, it just looks way too much like a Z4. Where is the Asian heritage?

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I still have no clue why Toyota wold even entertain the possibility of letting German reliability become a part of one of its cars. Maybe the long lead introduction is Toyota doing damage-control behind the scenes.

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