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Forty years after the original Supra went on sale, Toyota has given us our best look yet at the all-new performance flagship, with the GR racing concept shown at the Geneva motor show today.
This also represents the first official confirmation of the return of the Supra name, which has been missing from Toyota’s international line-up since the demise of the legendary A80-generation in 2002. Australia has been missing the Supra for even longer, however, with the A70-generation disappearing from local showrooms in the early ‘90s.
Officially titled ‘Toyota GR Supra Racing Concept’, the Geneva show car hides the much-anticipated new production car behind GT3-esque styling and race tweaks which were teased in a single image last month.
As with the recent Yaris GRMN limited edition hot hatch, the GR in this concept’s name refers to Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s umbrella brand for its global motorsport activities. So expanded fully, the concept’s name extends to Toyota Gazoo Racing Supra Racing Concept, which sounds like one of Japan’s classic door decals from the ‘80s.
Look beyond the giant swan-neck wing and diffuser, pumped wheelarches, jutting front splitter and winglets, centre-lock wheels, bonnet vents and latches and racing door mirrors and it’s not hard to imagine the production version’s look, which seems to be not too far removed from the FT-1 concepts shown in 2014.
The head and tail-lights appear to be production-ready, as does the 2000GT-referencing window line and double-bubble roof, ducktail boot lid, front guard scoops, door handles and doors with unique diagonal gills. These headlights also have a strong visual link with the new Corolla hatchback also revealed today.
Given the similar treatment applied to the limited-edition Yaris GRMN hot hatch, you might assume the concept’s centre exhaust will make production, but recent spy photos suggest the road car will use a more conventional dual outlet set-up.
The concept’s race-spec parts are a smorgasbord of high-end brands, including BBS, Michelin, Brembo and OMP, but likely serve as little more than a distraction from the road car hiding within.
On the inside, a GT3-like roll cage, steering wheel and seat, along with exposed ancillaries like the ECU and fuel system mask very production-looking floor pressings, but the placement of the carbon-fibre centre console disguises whether there’s a suitable hole for an H-pattern manual. The concept has race-spec paddle shifters mounted behind the steering wheel.
The dash details are hidden behind Alcantara wrapping, but the door handles within the carbon-fibre door trims appear to be the strongest hint of the production car’s interior design.
Toyota has confirmed that the ‘90’ race numbers on each door are a nod to the fifth-generation using the A90 model code, which follows the A40, A60, A70 and A80 models used over the Supra’s now four decade history.
The new Supra will be the first tangible fruit of Toyota’s technology-sharing alliance with BMW, and expected to share its underpinnings with the next-generation Z4 - a similar arrangement to the Toyota/Subaru arrangement which brought us the 86/BRZ.
The man charged with the Supra’s development is none other than Tetsuya Tada, who has become somewhat of a cult hero because of his success as 86/BRZ chief engineer.
Aside from sticking to the Supra’s traditional front engine, rear-wheel drive layout, Toyota is keeping mum on other details for now. Overseas reports suggest length and weight figures only marginally greater than the 86, however.
The drivetrain is also expected to adhere to the Supra’s straight-six tradition, with the BMW relationship giving access to its suite of powerful turbocharged in-line six options. Rather than the older N55/S55 design used in the BMW M2, M3 and M4, the Supra is more likely to use a version of the newer modular 250kW/500Nm 3.0-litre turbo six from the ‘40i models.
“Revealing a racing concept ahead of a production model highlights that motorsport is Toyota’s proving ground of choice for high-performance vehicles,” Toyota Australia sales and marketing boss Sean Hanley said.
Other evidence of this is the Lexus LFA and LC 500, Toyota 86 and C-HR Nurburgring 24 Hours entries of the past, although the latter suggests the philosophy extends beyond high-performance models. Toyota Australia spokesperson Orlando Rodriguez tells us there’s no concrete plans to take the new Supra racing at this stage, however.
Toyota’s press material compares the GR Supra Racing Concept to the C-HR Racing concept shown at Geneva in 2016, with its timing in relation to the production C-HR hinting that we’ll see the road-going Supra within the next year.