Toyota Says Supra Development Team Stopped Talking to BMW Years Ago, Hasn't Ruled Out Manual

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

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]

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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  • Cognoscenti Cognoscenti on Sep 24, 2018

    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?

  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Sep 24, 2018

    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.

  • 3-On-The-Tree Lou_BCsame here I grew up on 2-stroke dirt bikes had a 1985 Yamaha IT200 2-strokes then a 1977 Suzuki GT750 2-stroke 750 streetike fast forward to 2002 as a young flight school Lieutenant I bought a 2002 suzuki Hayabusa 1300 up in Huntsville Alabama. Still have that bike.
  • Milton Rented one for about a month. Very solid EV. Not as fun as my Polestar, but for a go to family car, solid. Practical EV ownership is only made possible with a home charger.
  • J Love mine, but the steering wheel blocks dashboard a bit, can't see turn signals nor headlights icons. They could use the upper corners of the screen for the turn signals. Mileage is much lower than shown too, disappointing
  • Aja8888 NO!
  • OrpheusSail I once did. My first four cars were American made, and through an odd set of circumstances surrounding a divorce, I wound up with a '95 Nissan Maxima which was fourteen years old and had about 150,000 miles on it.It was drove better, had an amazing engine, and was more reliable than any of my American cars. This included a new '95 GMC pickup that went through five alternators in under two years while the dealership insisted that there was no underlying electrical problem while they tried to run the clock on the warranty.That was the end of 'buy American'. I've bought from Honda and VW since, and I'll consider just about anything except American now.