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

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
toyota says supra development team stopped talking to bmw years ago hasnt ruled out

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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  • 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.

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