We’ve seen multiple spy shots of it, even heard it roar up the prestigious Goodwood Hillclimb course, albeit cloaked in heavy camouflage – the upcoming (A90) Toyota Supra is quite possibly the most hotly anticipated car of a generation, let alone this year or the next.
Following its Goodwood Festival of Speed shakedown, and a private showcase with die-hard fans of the Supra, Toyota Blog got a chance to speak with Lead Engineer Tetsuya Tada to shed some light on the new car. Here’s what we have learnt.
The A90 Supra has been in development since 2012, roughly twice as long as Toyota typical development time for other vehicles (roughly 3 years), but the development period was necessary to “make absolutely sure it was right,” according to Tada.
As you may already know, much of that development was done alongside BMW, who are also in the midst of putting the final touches on their BMW Z4 roadster (internally codenamed G29). Both cars will be based on the same platform and will share similar engine and transmission components, albeit with individualised tuning between the two companies.
Tada acknowledges that before the GT86 arrived, Toyota had not produced a sports car for a while, so a lot of the groundwork had to be re-established first. “But for the Supra project, we already had the experience from developing the GT86 and were able to start from a much higher level. This meant we were aiming for a much higher level in the finished car,” he explains.
The A90 Supra was envisioned as a big brother to the GT 86 sports car, as per President Akio Toyoda’s aspirations. So in terms of the technical attributes, Tada and his team were dedicated to developing a vehicle that was in almost every way more advanced than the GT 86.
He adds, “For example, people were happy that the GT86 had a very low centre of gravity… but the Supra has an even lower centre of gravity, and its body rigidity is twice that of the GT86. It’s actually the same level of rigidity as the Lexus LFA supercar, and it has been achieved without using carbon fibre so we could keep the price point at an affordable level.”
While he was awaiting his turn to storm up the Goodwood hill, parked alongside other amazing supercars, he figured, “this is the cheapest car in the line by a long way – probably about a tenth of the price – but we got the biggest cheer!’
While it may not be hard to surmise that the A90’s track is wider than the GT 86, just from how it looks, surprisingly, the wheelbase is shorter than that of the GT 86. For this Tada explains, “The car was developed with a specific ratio of wheelbase and track in mind, and I think we’ve been able to achieve the balance that we were looking for.”
Tada finally highlighted five different aspects of the new Supra that fans should get excited about. “First of all, the Supra has always had an inline six-cylinder engine, and of course we have that with the new car, too. Secondly, all generations had a front-mounted engine and rear-wheel drive; that is also the same here.
He adds that while the new car may be a lot different from the fourth-generation (JZA 80) Supra, which ceased production in 2002; the upcoming Supra carefully adopts traditional styling cues from previous generations so that it remains instantly recognisable as a Supra.
Tada believes also, that when the Supra goes on sale in 2019, it will one of the most engaging and fun cars to drive, as all previous generations have been, in their own right.
And what is perhaps most bittersweet, Tada concludes, “Looking at the current automotive industry, the talk is all about autonomous driving, electrification and artificial intelligence. What that’s doing is giving rise to a lot of strict regulations, and that limits our capacity to make emotional sports cars; it’s getting much more difficult to do that. So for the fifth point, I think the new Supra will be the last present from Toyota to those who enjoy hearing the pleasing sound of a pure petrol engine at high revs.