By on May 21, 2019

Not everyone was enthusiastic about Toyota’s decision to co-develop its Supra with BMW. As an icon of the brand, some complained that Bavarian involvement sullied what should have a been a purely Japanese automobile. We wouldn’t go that far (though certain telltale signs of BMW’s hand come off as slightly off-putting). Still, an interior that borrows heavily from the Z4 is hardly a major issue, especially since everyone knew they’d be platform partners going into this.

As well, partnerships can bring advantages. In addition to actually resulting in the car being built, Toyota’s relationship with the Germans means an engine that miraculously makes more power the second you place it on a dynamometer.

Following some on-the-pavement testing of the Toyota Supra, Car and Driver noted that the coupe’s BMW-sourced twin-scroll turbo 3.0-liter inline-six was outperforming vehicles that should have been a little out of its league. Are the A90 Supra’s power specs understated?

Possibly. This is a powerplant from BMW, after all.


Scheduling some time with an all-wheel-drive dyno, the outlet suggests the Supra’s stated 335 horsepower and 365 lb-ft of torque are a misnomer. The real numbers should be closer to 339 horsepower and 427 lb-ft of torque at the wheels.

From Car and Driver:

For our test, we headed to Livernois Motorsports and Engineering in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. We strapped the Supra to the Dynojet all-wheel-drive dynamometer, as the car’s stability systems only play nice when all four wheels are spinning. For this observation, we ran the test in the eight-speed automatic transmission’s fifth-gear ratio of 1.32:1 to achieve a full sweep of the tachometer. We experimented with the 1.00:1 ratio of sixth gear but were unable to reach the engine’s redline. The power output in sixth gear, however, matched our results of those in the higher gear.

All dyno-derived figures, of course, come with a complimentary grain of salt. C&D‘s findings aren’t likely to appease those who bemoan the fact that Toyota’s pride and joy utilizes a German motor, though it could help silence complaints that the new car barely makes more power than a 2JZ-equipped Mk4. We’d recommend a side-by-side showdown to settle things once and for all.

Sadly, there probably aren’t enough unmodified examples of the A80 left to make that a reality.


[Images: Toyota]

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31 Comments on “Toyota Supra: More Power Than Advertised?...”

  • avatar

    Most of us here are Car nuts of some breed. In this day and age, low volume automobiles are not providing much of an ROI. If joint develepoment is the way we can continue having exciting automobiles to drive, count me in. I don’t care if it is a Toyota/Subaru, Toyota/BMW, Toyota/Honda, etc. At the end of the day, we want choices.

    • 0 avatar

      Fair point. I’d rather have this car exist than not exist.

      I think the issue with the Supra, though, is who handled which which parts of the joint development. If Brock Lesnar and Alessandra Ambrosio are over at my house, I don’t want Alessandra moving the piano while Brock models lingerie.

      • 0 avatar

        @Featherston, I would have preferred that Alessandra pick out the knobs and switches, maybe she wouldn’t have picked everything from the BMW bins. And that’s probably a petty complaint, but it takes away from the cockpit looking like anything that Toyota built.

        Otherwise, I’m just glad that companies can still put a car out like this.

        • 0 avatar

          “…but it takes away from the cockpit looking like anything that Toyota built.”
          Even as a satisfied, long-term Toyota owner, I can’t begin to comprehend anyone preferring that any portion of a car look like something that Toyota built. Look at that exterior: isn’t that ridiculous-enough?

          • 0 avatar

            @Kenn, that’s legit. I meant to convey that the BMW kit takes away from it being a “Toyota”. You got me on any memorable Toyota switchgear that I can remember. I guess I didn’t know how hard it was to go out and get some.

          • 0 avatar

            “You got me on any memorable Toyota switchgear that I can remember. ”

            Their classic cruise control stalk
            The digital clock in the upper dash

          • 0 avatar
            Mike Beranek

            Uh, any Lexus? The 92-96 Camry?

  • avatar

    “Toyota’s relationship with the Germans means an engine that miraculously makes more power the second you place it on a dynamometer.”

    Does anyone know the full story behind this? I’ve long assumed it has far less to do with engineering than with German laws.

    “In addition to exhibiting at major German trade fairs, advertising plays a central role in most companies’ broad-based marketing programs. Regulation of advertising in Germany is a mix between basic rules and voluntary guidelines developed by the major industry associations. The ‘Law Against Unfair Competition’ established legal rules at the beginning of the 20th Century. Although it has been modified over time, this law continues to be valid today. The law allows suits to be brought if advertising ‘violates accepted mores.’

    “Many advertising practices that are common in the United States, such as offering premiums, are not allowed in Germany. Any planned advertising campaigns should be discussed with a potential business partner or an advertising agency in Germany.”

    My guess is that the legal landscape causes the German brands to be extremely conservative in rating their engines.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Toyota Supra: More Power Than Advertised?”

    Perhaps, but it also has more ugly than advertised.

    • 0 avatar

      What do we even call this car-within-a-car styling?

      Wait— I studied this at school!

      Erwin Wurm’s ‘fat’ Porsche!!!

  • avatar

    0-60 in 3.8 and 1/4 in [email protected] is fine by me.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s the next 80,000-plus quarter miles that would concern me. My admittedly obnoxious take on this car would be that it looks like a Lexus RC that’s been saddled with a Worst of SEMA body kit and then had its drivetrain replaced by something far less reliable.

      To play devil’s advocate against myself though:
      – One of my friends is having a solid experience as a 3-series leaser. He’s had a maintenance issue or three, but the dealer has gotten to the bottom of them, and he likes the remote office set-up they have. (No, really. I’m not being snarky. They have wireless, upscale work stations, decent coffee, and snacks; so it’s little different to being at your office or working from home.)
      – Another friend quite likes his E90 M3. His probably is an ideal use-case scenario: 2nd owner and managed to hit a price/condition sweet spot; it’s his main ride, but he takes the train to work (i.e., it gets neither too much nor too little use); keeps it on a trickle charger.

      It’s true of any car, but probably more so for BMW: What is your budget and what are your expectations?

      • 0 avatar

        The last real Supra Turbos were about $78K adjusted for inflation. This is a cheap German knock-off being passed off as the real thing. Look at what an LC500 costs, or at real Supras auctioning for $180K+, and you understand why BMW’s quality and engineering is so inferior to Toyota’s.

        • 0 avatar

          You are correct, but this thing is much cheaper to buy than an LC500, auction “classic” Supra, or an RC-F. At this price point you’re looking the RC350 F-sport as the “real” Toyota alternative but that is going to be a noticeably slower car.

          If I was planning on a decade-plus ownership period that might be a worthwhile tradeoff, but if the BMW Supra can get to 60K without becoming a nightmare that’s probably all I’d need form it.

  • avatar

    This doesn’t surprise me in the least. BMW is known for underrating their engines, to the point where I’d be genuinely SHOCKED if their engines actually put out the advertised numbers.

    • 0 avatar

      As a former BMW fanatic, when exactly did they become known for underrating their engines? Car and Driver dyno tested a bunch of cars about ten years ago. The BMWs were only underrated if they have obscenely inefficient power transmission to the rear wheels. AWD BMWs consume even more power before it reaches the ground. The performance of the BMWs in the test made for a great argument for front wheel drive.

  • avatar

    I just recalled a Supra-BMW story. A family friend bought an A60 Supra in the spring of ’84. In ’88 he bought an E30 3-series and passed the Supra down to his oldest daughter. The E30 was reliable–very reliable by BMW standards–and his wife and he had it until at least 1994. Meanwhile however, the Supra got passed on to the second daughter and then on to the daughters’ younger brother. It was still with the family years after the E30 had been traded in.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    I don’t care about the BMW’s involvement in New Supra any more I cared about Subaru’s involvement into the New 86. But I am very disappointed about the lack of the headroom. I would be glad to have a smaller engine and greater headroom.

  • avatar

    Toyota did only 50% of what it does best – uglified otherwise good looking BMW. On the other hand it did not make it reliable beyond warranty. So it resulted in merging worst aspects of both BMW and Toyota vehicles. I would chose BMW because if I get BMW’s planned failure beyond warranty at least I want it to look as elegant as BMW’s sports car.

  • avatar

    Uh, yeah, C&D’s press car was making way more power than advertised.

    The question in my mind is, will the cars on dealer lots be making anything close to that? Hmm.

    C&D should re-run the test with a customer car in a year and see how that goes.

    • 0 avatar

      Or even better, dyno the Z4 and its 382 hp version of this engine, which Road and Track have compared down to part numbers with the one in the Supra.

      Then remember C/D has often been fooled by supertuned press cars all the way back to 1964 and a Pontiac GTO that was in the moon-shot rocket category. And also wonder why C/D has had three (maybe four) articles on the Supra in the last few weeks, culminating in this super Supra. Advertorials anyone?

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve seen BMW engine hp in the past impacted by temperature. Much more than the variance here. Actually, just about any ICE motor would see horsepower vary by temperature.

        • 0 avatar

          This is a turbo, so dropping the intake temp will have an even larger effect. Also since it IS a turbo an aftermarket ECU tune will easily gain you another 20 maybe 30 more ponies? Look at what ARP does to those little VW turbos – massive power increases. Does it hurt reliability? Maybe but its a BMW so service visits are expected. Of course not for Toyota drivers so there might be a disconnect there. The previous generation Supra has become a god among cars due to its bullet proof engine that could make stupid levels of power without exploding. So I would pretty much ignore the power specs on this thing, the aftermarket will quickly make up for any short comings.

    • 0 avatar

      My thoughts exactly. Juicing up review cars is an age old tradition.

  • avatar

    Pathetic automatic garbage

  • avatar

    If your biggest complaint about your car is that BMW built the I6, you’re probably OK…….. :) Even with those wretched low pressure turbos, BMW’s I6s are still about as sweet as engine/hairdryer hybrids get…

    Now, how about a low cost, low weight, NA version with a manual………

  • avatar

    “Scheduling some time with an all-wheel-drive dyno, the outlet suggests the Supra’s stated 335 horsepower and 365 lb-ft of torque are a misnomer. The real numbers should be closer to 339 horsepower and 427 lb-ft of torque at the wheels.”

    At the wheels? I doubt it. AWD powertrain losses would be at least 15%, so on that basis 339 HP measured at the wheels would be equivalent to 399 HP at the crank on an engine dyno. While this BMW engine family is certainly capable of 399 HP, and more, I very much doubt that any manufacturer would understate power by such a margin. Certainly no marketing department would.

  • avatar

    Oh, man – that horrible BMW engine! This site kills me – the Toyota worship is so strong here…and the BMW hate is also.

    Now, since you’re on the C&D website, be sure to read the piece where they actually compare the performance of the last Supra with the new one…last week, a regular TTAC commenter (won’t give his name, but his initials are ToddAtlasF1…), stated that the new Supra was barely improved over the last gen – yeah – take a look at the test results.

    Boy, getting lots more power and torque than what you paid for sure is awful…

  • avatar

    Meh, this is nothing new. The Gen I Ford Probe advertised “crank” HP and torque were wheel HP and torque.

  • avatar

    Also uglier than people had expected after having seen the concept 4-5 years ago.

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