Nissan 370Z NISMO 2017 review
Good news! The first affordable performance Nissan in years - the 370Z Nismo - has finally landed in Australia. Not-so-good news! It’s much the same car as the last affordable performance Niss
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Like most car-loving kids of the 1990s, my bedroom walls were adorned with dog-eared posters of Lamborghinis and Ferraris and all other kinds of expensive exotica. But right in the centre, taking pride of place, was a picture of the twin-turbocharged A80 Toyota Supra.
This bargain-basement sports car represented the pinnacle of everything that was fantastic about Japanese performance at the time. Here was a Ferrari-bothering screamer for a fraction of the price of something truly exotic.
That fire-breathing Supra was killed off in 2002, replaced by an endless procession of Corollas and Camrys, with Toyota’s performance aspirations having driven off a cliff (presumably locked in the trunk of a hybrid Prius).
But now, at long last, it’s back! The all-new A90 Supra, developed in partnership with BMW’s Z4, will finally launch globally next year, the first of many models developed under Toyota’s newly formed Gazoo Racing Company performance division.
And this is the very first time we’ve been able to drive it, albeit in pre-production prototype guise. And yes, we’re very excited.
So, is it a worthy successor to one of motoring’s true icons?
|Toyota Supra 2019: GT|
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
Ah, that’s a great question. Toyota is keeping quieter than a church mouse with a sore throat on pricing (and BMW hasn’t priced the Z4 yet either, so we can't use that car as a guide), but allow us to dampen any enthusiasm for this being a cut-price Japanese sports car.
Toyota’s assistant chief engineer, Keisuke Fukumoto, told CarsGuide; “I hope after driving it you can see that it won’t be cheap”.
And so put it this way, we would be surprised to see it start with a number lower than $70k.
This pre-production prototype drive was intended as little more than a taste-test before the car's official launch, so we're really unable to shed any light on the trim levels, or exactly what will be included in each of them (Toyota Australia's executives say even they don't know yet).
But you can expect keyless entry, push-button start, powered windows, leather seats and a (BMW) multimedia system, and Toyota is pushing to have Apple CarPlay included by the time the car launches in Australia toward the back end of 2019, though it remains a question mark.
Much was made of the adaptive dampers, clever differential and four-pot Brembo brakes, but it's not yet known how much of that performance kit will arrive as standard, or if at least some of it will form part of a optional pack.
Are you the kind of person who does their clothes shopping in an Army surplus store? Then you're going to love the Supra.
And that's because we still haven't seen it without its camouflage wrapping, and the interiors of our test cars were lined with thick black felt to hide the details (a peek under it, though, reveals a BMW set-up, complete with the German maker's switches, steering wheel - although it's thinner to the touch - and media screen).
What you can see, though, is the squatting-on-its-haunches styling of the Supra. Even in its camouflage wrapping it looks wide and strong, with super-muscular bulges above the rear tyres, which themselves are perched as far toward the back of the car as it is possible to push them.
The body is adorned with (ornamental - for now) venting, while the boot-lid spoiler looks like Plasticine when you pinch it, such is the sharp and sudden way it sprouts from the body work.
But the most obvious styling touch you notice when trailing behind one is the contours of its bubble-domed roof (part aerodynamics, part fashion), the thin tail-lights and the jumbo exhaust tips positioned at each end of the boot.
Not very. We are talking, of course, about a two-door, two-seat coupe, so don't expect to be knocking off too many Ikea runs in your Supra.
Hampered by that interior-covering felt, it's hard to point out the various nooks and crannies of the cabin, but you'd be right to expect a storage space in front of the gearshift that will be home to your power and USB connections, as well as a phone holder.
There will be narrow pockets in each door, too. But... that's about it. The boot opens to reveal a small and shallow space, and Toyota has opted against a cargo protector between the boot area and the cabin, a design quirk that will make it through to the finished product.
The top-shelf Supra (there is rumour of a four-cylinder version joining the family a little later) is powered by BMW's cracking turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine, paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
And it's a gem of a powertrain, with a rich and constant power delivery that perfectly suits the Supra. Toyota is yet to confirm official numbers, but it has said to expect more than 220kW/450Nm, and a sub-5.0 second sprint from 0-100km/h.
The Supra drives the rear wheels, and there's a ton of extra trickery at work here, including an active differential and adaptive suspension, not to mention the Toyota's perfect 50/50 weight distribution.
Some more facts, then; the Supra lands in what Toyota calls the 'Golden Ratio' of driving dynamics (reached by measuring track width vs wheelbase), which results in a better score (1.6, if you're playing at home) than the the very good 86, and the body rigidity is higher than that in the Lexus LFA supercar.
Next question, please. Toyota is yet to confirm engine outputs, let alone fuel use and C02 emissions. It’s a watch this space, I'm afraid.
We’ve been waiting a long time for this, so let’s get the good stuff out of the way early; based on these earliest of early impressions, this all-new Supra has been worth the wait.
On a test circuit that coupled tight and twisting rural roads with a blast on a racetrack, the Supra shone, leaving the fleet of Toyota 86s that were valiantly trying to keep pace to quickly disappear in the rear-view mirror.
The jump from the Supra’s normal driving mode, which is benign to the point of dullness, to the car’s sportiest settings is stratospheric, with the suspension, throttle inputs and steering all firming up noticeably. And if I owned it, it’s exactly where I would be spending the bulk of my time behind the wheel.
The manual shifts are fast and precise when you take control of the wheel-mounted paddle shifters, though left to its own devices in Sport mode, it can decide to suddenly shift at an awkward moment.
But the stand-out star here is the Supra’s sharp dynamics. Much work has been done to make it feel as small and planted as possible, and the result is a car that really does feel super agile and super sharp, though it can suddenly feel snappy if you’re too loose with the accelerator on greasy roads.
Toyota has kept the kerb weight to less than 1.5-tonnes, and the Supra does feel light, and lithe and very happy to reply to your every input.
How will it perform on regular roads, where comfort is more important than driving dynamics? Time will tell.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
Another in the watch-this-space category, I'm afraid. Modern Toyotas (and BMWs for that matter) rarely arrive underdone in the safety department, though.
The cheaper Toyota Corolla, for example, arrived this year with AEB with pedestrian detection and cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, speed-sign recognition, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and hill start assist as standard on every model.
If the Supra matches that level of kit, or betters it, we'll score it well.
Toyota's standard ownership package will apply here, so expect a three year/100,000km warranty. The question mark will be service intervals.
With most of the bits requiring maintenance supplied by BMW, and given the German brand demands condition-based servicing, we'd expect 12 month maintenance intervals on the Supra, rather than the six-month intervals on cars like the C-HR.
And so, taste-test complete, we're confident in reporting that the Supra is back, baby! And here's hoping it's just the start in a new wave of exciting product from the Japanese giant.
One caveat, though; this score is based on the items we could actually test on this prototype drive, so expect some change following the car's official launch.
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||9|
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