Supra is back

Toyota South Africa has launched the Z4….err, Toyota Supra in a four variant spread that also marks the first global GR model from Toyota Gazoo Racing and the fith iteration of the famous name.

Motive power comes from a BMW 3,0-litre straight six engine and the entire car was designed in conjunction with BMW around the Z4 the Munich company is offering – the latter as a soft-top sportster while Supra is a hard hat design.

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The fifth generation Supra is assembled alongside the G29 BMW Z4 in Graz, Austria by Magna Steyr.

While purists might rock back gently on their heels and bemoan the loss of the naturally aspirated Toyota 2 997 cc 2JZ-GE engine (164 kW) or the twin turbo-charged Toyota 2JZ-GTE (206 kW) version from the previous generation Supra and the particular rasping sound they made climbing into the higher rev range compared to the flatter, lower note of the BME engine, the increased grunt at 250 kW and 500 Nm should provide compensation.

In the modern age, collaboration between automakers on developing projects is not only commonplace but is vital in terms of reducing the cost of the process as well as the on-road cost of the car by commonising parts into much larger global production runs.

Also, it is not a new venture for Toyota – the GT86 having been a collaboration with Subaru and even the previous generation Supra was based on the company’s own Soarer.

Colleagues attenting the launch event were largely unanimous in praising the loooks, handling, agility, ride and overall feel of the car – so to borrow some historic phrasing, everything keeps going right, Toyota.

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Going back in time – the Supra production first began in 1978 with manufacture of the fourth generation ending in 2002. The production of the fifth, current generation began in March 2019.

The styling of the Supra was derived from the Toyota Celica, but it was both longer and wider and from mid-1986, the A70 Supra became a separate model from the Celica. The Supra also traces much of its roots back to the 2000GT owing to an inline-6 layout. The first three generations were offered with a direct descendant to the Crown’s and 2000GT’s M engine.

The Supra has appeared in numerous video games, movies, music videos and TV shows. Some of the most notable appearances include the Initial D Arcade Stage, Initial D, Gran Turismo, Forza Motorsport, Sega GT, Assetto Corsa, Tokyo Xtreme Racer, Need for Speed, Midnight Club, Wangan Midnight, Asphalt and Forza Horizon video games and The Fast and the Furious film series.

“Being asked to make a sports car that offers the ultimate, pure driving pleasure felt like a mandate from heaven, telling me to ‘make a Supra’, says Tetsuya Tada, Chief Engineer of the Toyota GR Supra.

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“The GT86 helped broaden the scope and appeal of Toyota’s sports cars. Next, I needed to deliver a car that offers a seemingly limitless sense of control, a car that will meet expectations and delight even hardcore fans.

“In making Supra, I insisted on visiting enthusiasts’ clubs around the world to talk to owners of previous models. I asked them what they thought the minimum requirements should be and the response was always ‘a straight-six turbo and front engine/rear-wheel drive configuration’. It was pretty clear and I had more or less anticipated this. The key point was to keep that combination intact.

“The new Supra is not simply a revival, though; only those core engine and rear-wheel drive elements have been carried over. As the name Supra suggests, I was determined to deliver a ‘supreme fun-to-drive’ car that could only be made in the modern era.

“With the new Supra we did everything that could be done with front engine/rear-wheel drive packaging. For example, the speed through a slalom course is about 20% faster than our original target time. And it is not just a fast car, it i’s exhilarating.”

The design influence of the landmark 2000GT is particularly evidenced in the long bonnet, compact body and double-bubble roof, while the distinctive look of the fourth generation Supra is captured in both the front and rear styling – notably in the rear wings and the arc of the integrated spoiler.

The Toyota GR Supra’s design theme was first previewed in the dramatic FT-1 concept car, styled at Toyota’s CALTY studio in California and revealed in 2014 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Toyota GR Supra Chief Designer Nobuo Nakamura says: “With Chief Engineer Tada pursuing driving pleasure, I knew that my mission was to create a design that would be visually and physically exciting to sports car fans. By using a straight-six front engine/rear-wheel drive layout – something rarely seen in cars today – I was able to reach something beyond Toyota’s boundaries.”

The frontal design was inspired by the fourth-generation Supra, while the headlight units draw inspiration from the Mk4 Supra (JZA080) shape and feature a six-lens LED arrangement that incorporate both the turn indicators and daytime running lights (DRL).

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Inside, the low, slim horizontal dashboard maximises the forward view through the windscreen, helping the driver place the car with precision in high-speed driving, while the principal controls are tightly grouped for quick and easy operation. The instrument panel, centre console and door trim are combined in a seamless design that gives the cockpit a strong, unified feel.

The seats have a racing-influenced design that ensures comfort at all times and excellent support, in particular if the car is being used on-track. Body-holding side bolsters are featured on the cushion and high back, and there is an integrated head restraint.

The upholstery specified for South African models comprises a combination of leather bolsters with a perforated Alcantara covering for the seat back and cushion with the choice between Black or combination Red and Black interior trim.

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The 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine is fitted with a single twin-scroll turbo-charger, high-precision direct fuel injection and continuously variable valve control that secure segment-leading torque performance from very low revs. The unit is powerful, well-balanced, smooth and free-revving, with an exhilarating acceleration feel and minimal vibration.

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The engine is matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission that provides driver control of gear changes via paddle shifts on the steering wheel with Normal or Sport driving modes to suit their preference and the conditions.

A Launch Control function enables acceleration from standstill to 100 km/h in 4,3 seconds. Engine sound and response, shift pattern, damping, steering and active differential performance are adjusted when the driver selects Sport mode. The Vehicle Stability Control has a special, selectable ‘track’ setting that reduces the level of system intervention, giving the driver greater control of the vehicle’s dynamic performance.

An active differential has been specified for the local market, which operates both when accelerating and decelerating and can seamlessly adjust from zero to full, 100% lock, with instant response.

High structural rigidity (greater even than the Lexus LFA supercar), a centre of gravity lower than the GT86 coupé and ideal 50:50 front/rear weight distribution were fundamental to achieving the car’s dynamic goals, and the desired weight balance was gained by moving the engine as far as possible rearwards, which itself introduced new production challenges.

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The suspension design comprises double-joint spring MacPherson struts at the front and a five-link system at the rear. The front suspension subframe and control-arm mounting points have been made extremely rigid to yield precise cornering characteristics, while the use of aluminium for the control arms and swivel bearings reduces the car’s unsprung weight.

The rear suspension benefits from a similarly lightweight design for the rigid subframe and the bracing that connects it to the body, helping ensure extremely precise wheel control. The 19-inch forged alloy wheels are fitted with high-grip Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres. These are slightly wider at the rear than the front (255/35R19 vs 275/35R19).

The Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) enhances performance with changes in the road surface, adjusting the shock-absorber force at each wheel to maintain a flat vehicle posture, excellent steering response and supple ride comfort. Sensors constantly monitor the way the car is being driven and the road conditions, controlling the damping force accordingly.

The electric power steering is rack-assisted and sports-tuned. Its characteristics are automatically adjusted in accordance with vehicle speed, reducing the level of effort needed at lower speeds and gradually weighting up to offer greater control and stability at higher speeds.

A sports braking system is fitted as standard with red aluminium Brembo calipers – opposed four-piston at the front and floating single-piston at the rear. The ventilated discs measure 348 x 36mm at the front and 345 x 24mm at the rear.

The GR Supra model line-up consists of two models, the GR Supra Track and GR Supra. The Track model is aimed at enthusiasts wishing to use their vehicle predominantly for performance-orientated driving and prioritises vehicle dynamics over convenience specification.

The ‘normal’ GR Supra adds a raft of comfort and convenience specification – to truly offer an all-encompassing package.

The Track grade includes dual-zone automatic air-conditioning, smart entry with push-button start, leather-trimmed steering wheel with thumb-mounted switches and a digital instrument cluster. LED technology is used for the adaptive headlights, rear lights and daytime running lights and the mirrors (door mirrors and rear-view mirror) are all auto-dimming. Further convenience is provided by rain-sensing wipers and a rear-view camera.

The infotainment specifications feature a 10-speaker audio system with 6,5-inch display with Bluetooth and USB port.

The GR Supra model receives an upgrade to 8.,-inch infotainment system with built-in satellite navigation and 12-speaker JBL audio system with mid-mounted subwoofers for superb acoustics. The sports seats are upholstered in a combination of leather and Alcantara (Track model features fabric seats) and are power-adjustable (including lumbar support), with integrated heating and memory functions.

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Wireless charging, Tyre Pressure Monitoring, Park Distance Control (PDC) and Heads-Up Display (HUD) add to the convenience spec tally. The Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) forms part of the higher-grade feature list.

Another key differentiator between the Track and ‘normal’ GR Supra models is the Toyota Safety Sense system that includes include a Pre-Collision System with a pedestrian detection function and the ability to recognise cyclists during daytime driving; Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with steering assist; Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Automatic High Beam (AHB); Adaptive Front-light System (AFS), which adjusts the headlight illumination in line with the car’s steering angle and Road Sign Assist are all included.

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Toyota GR Supra Track* – R 953 000
Toyota GR Supra (Prominent Red) – R 1 072 300
Toyota GR Supra (Metallic) – R 1 082 300
Toyota GR Supra (Matte Grey) – R 1 092 300
*Available in Prominent Red paintwork only

A 4-services/80 000 km service plan is provided as well as a 3-year/100 000 km Warranty.

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