Instead of defaulting to the Toyota parts bin, BMW joint development was key to the new Supra sticking to its fundamentals.
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Previewed by the Toyota GR Supra Racing Concept at the Geneva motor show this week, the new Supra won’t use the similar-size rear-wheel drive platform from the Lexus LC 500 and its V8 engine, the twin-turbo V6 from the LS, or the 2.0-litre turbo-petrol used in several Lexus models.
You could be forgiven for wondering why Toyota has sought help from BMW rather than use its own parts bin, but Supra chief engineer Tetsuya Tada explained to CarsGuide that consumer demand dictated that BMW’s offering is a better fit with the Supra’s four-generation heritage.
“As you know, Supra made its revival after 15 long years, and so when we thought about what kind of car we’d like to create, first we built the 86, and then we were hearing a lot of voices and requests from fans around the world that they want Supra to be revived."
“So first thing I did in the project was to go around the different fans that exist around the world of Supra and hear about what they think and what their requests were.
“I didn’t want to simply just revive the Supra now, I wanted to make and adopt new technologies into a new car, at the same time, and so hearing these different voices, and requests around the world I understood that there are two elements that are essential that we need to keep in this new Supra.
“So as you know this is the fifth-generation Supra, but from the first through the fourth-generation there has been one consistency which is the straight-six engine which has been installed in all of them and these are obviously very important elements for Supra.
“Another important element is FR (front engine, rear drive) configuration. So I understood that these two elements should remain in the new car.
“But straight six engines has been very popular when Supra was popular back in the years, but now there are only a few companies that still adopt a straight six engine because it is too long and its quite difficult to fit that into the whole car package.
“Well, on one hand I have this opportunity to work together with BMW on some kind of car development, but on the other, there was this other opportunity to revive Supra, and I thought that I was the perfect opportunity and perfect match to utilise different elements that are within the two companies.”
BMW’s diversity of transmission options is also rare these days – with manual, auto and dual clutch autos available for its turbo sixes – but it seems this was less of a selling point.
“Both BMW and Toyota have different transmission options, but that was not a determining factor,” Tada-san added.
One of the big question marks remaining for the new Supra is whether it will be offered with a manual gearbox option, as with previous models which were always offered with a choice of manual or auto in the past.
The GR Supra Racing Concept uses race-spec steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, which suggests it might be hiding BMW’s DCT dual-clutch unit within its transmission tunnel.
As for the manual’s potential, the concept’s race-spec carbon fibre centre console is neatly disguising whether there is room for a manual selector to poke through its clearly production-ready floorpan.
All will be revealed soon though, with the production version expected to appear within the next 12 months. Its Australian future is yet to be locked in, but the brand’s local arm has both hands raised.