Now that the initial wave of rabid fanboys and their incredibly adverse reactions to the all-new A90 Supra have finally died down, it’s time to set the record straight. No doubt you will have watched countless videos and read countless articles in defence of the new Supra, but we want to throw our own (unsolicited) hat into the ring.
Is the Supra a GT or a sports car?
Toyota has undoubtedly positioned their new Supra as a sports car, much to the chagrin of enthusiasts who regard the Supra as a tourer, or GT car, rather than something designed to be nimble and agile. The problem is that these enthusiasts are flat out wrong.
The A80 Supra which people seem to have such high regard for was positioned as a sports car when it was launched, and the promotional and marketing material is proof of that. The reality is that the Supra wasn’t the runaway success that people expected it to be, and while it may have sold relatively well in the United States, it did so with very little opposition. The Americans never got the GT-Rs, at least not legally.
So as a sports car, it was too big and too heavy to function and compete with more contemporary options. It was fast for the time, without a doubt, and it took home a number of awards, but compared to a Nissan GT-R? Not a chance in hell.
What is a GT car anyway?
The GT car designation is meant for cruisers rather than bruisers – cars designed to travel long distances at high speeds in relative comfort. Cars like the BMW M6 and Maserati Gran Turismo fit this description perfectly, and it’s something that the A80 Supra ticks all the boxes for as well. The only problem is that it’s a bit of a consolation prize when applied to a car designed to be a sports car.
But what about the 2JZ-GTE?
What about it? If your love for the 2JZ truly runs deep, where is your unending admiration for the countless other cars that came with this engine? Even the third generation A70 Supra came with the lower stroke 1JZ-GTE in its later years, but it does not receive nearly the same level of hero worship that the A80 comes with, nor the ridiculous prices.
Let’s also try to keep in mind that the 2JZ-GTE was never used in a motorsports capacity, even back home in Japan. All the Supras that competed in the JGTC were powered by inline four-cylinder turbo engines or big capacity V8 engines, which means that as great as the 2JZ-GTE was, it’s hardly a race engine.
There’s a reason the term “dyno queen” is heavily associated with A80 Supras. They are known to make astronomical amounts of power, but run them down a drag strip and you’ll find they aren’t exactly competitive, unless you’re running some tube frame fibreglass clad monstrosity like the good men over at EKanoo Racing.
Could Toyota have built a Supra with what they have?
The short answer is: no. They could have made any number of vehicles of sporting nature with engines taken from their Lexus range – either a big capacity V8 or a turbocharged V6 – but they don’t have a platform that screams “sports car”. Many of their platforms are fantastic for what they are designed for, which is comfort and cruising, but all bear heavy weight penalties and compromised dynamics for balls-to-the-wall driving.
But why not make the new Supra a GT car?
This is perhaps one of the most frustrating arguments that people conceive against the new Supra. Unfortunately, if Toyota did make a GT-esque Supra, the other half of the Supra fanboy camp would be up in arms because the Supra wouldn’t be a sports car. The harsh reality is that you can’t please everybody, and this is a prime example of a house divided.
For those who claim they would buy a Supra if it was a GT car, they can put their money where their mouths are and buy a Lexus LC 500. That is your GT car, perhaps one of the best GT cars of this generation, with a fantastic powertrain and excellent GT dynamics. But no, we don’t see these same enthusiasts rushing to Lexus showrooms to snap up units faster than Japan can ship them out. Simple fact of the matter is Toyota is not going to make a car that nobody is going to buy.
BuT iT’S A bMw Z4
Well yes, it shares a platform with a BMW Z4. This seems to be some huge faux pas in the eyes of enthusiasts, but is it really such a bad thing? The Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ twins are essentially sitting on a modified Impreza platform, down to the rear lower arms, and people don’t seem to have a problem with this.
The reality of the Supra’s development is that it was done in isolation from the BMW Z4. Once the dimensions of the platform were finalized, the test mules were created and the Germans and Japanese went their separate ways. They weren’t even allowed to talk to each other courtesy of European Union anti-trust laws, which meant that these cars were tuned in a way unique to each company’s philosophy.
And there is perhaps one simple fact that many overlook. While the Supra may be similar to the Z4, it’s highly likely that neither car would exist without the other. It’s a simple matter of economies of scale: BMW alone cannot sell enough Z4s to justify setting up a manufacturing process for one, and neither can Toyota with the Supra. With their combined numbers, it just about makes a business case.