Friday, 16 November 2012

The Toyota Supra Will OFFICIALLY Return In 5 Years!

Toyota Supra Twin Turbo (Mk.IV)
It's a good time to be longing for automotive comebacks. First the AE86 gets a spiritual successor, then the Honda NSX is announced to return (as a hybrid...), then Alfa Romeo-- wait a minute, didn't I already write this?

Yes I did, when it was announced that the Mazda RX-7 will officially return in 2017. Well now it's happened again! Tetsuya Tada, Toyota's sports car boss, is making sure he has things to do other than the brilliant GT86, as an order from above - namely Toyota CEO and petrolhead Akio Toyoda - stated that they must make a successor to the legendary Supra "as soon as possible". Tada-san also said that "The 86 needed five years to develop, so at least five years is required for the others. A normal passenger car about two to three years. But sports cars need special parts, so it's five years."

So there you have it. '90s Japanese sports cars are back. GT-R, NSX, RX-7, Supra, all will exist along with the everlasting Nissan Fairlady Z and Mazda MX-5 by 2017. Who knows what else might return? The Nissan Silvia and Honda Integra as GT86 rivals, perhaps? Also, it's worth noting that Tada said "at least five years for the others." The same interview revealed that the 86 is in the middle of what will eventually be a three-car sports car range. So perhaps we could see a new MR2 underneath the 86, or a new Celica. Earthquakes cannot stop the Japanese!

So anyway, what do we know about this Mk.V Supra? Well, nothing concrete whatsoever, so we can only speculate. Given the 1992-2002 Mk.IV Supra (pictured above) was benchmarked against Porsche and the Honda NSX in the '90s, I think it's reasonable to consider this new car as a rival to the BMW M3, because Porsche's most comparable car from then, the front-engined 968, doesn't exist any more, and the current V8-powered M3 is the benchmark for front-engined luxury sports cars. Why not a rival to the perennial 911? Well it could rival the Carrera I suppose, but they won't beat it. The M3 is a better target.

Speculative rendering based on the FT-HS.
Engines? Well, it won't be as rigid a tribute to the previous model as the RX-7, as the legendarily modifiable 2JZ straight-six almost definitely won't be making a comeback. Only BMW really bothers with straight-six engines these days, because a V6 is easier to package, not requiring such a long bonnet. That said, the current 'E92' M3 ironically has a V8 rather than an I6, although all evidence points to its 'F30' successor having an I6 with no fewer than three turbochargers. Toyota could do a V8, as the Lexus IS-F features a 5.0 Yamaha-tuned unit producing 417bhp, but the reason the next M3 will have a turbo six instead of a bigger V8 is because of the trend for smaller turbocharged engines that combine power with much better fuel economy, so a twin-turbo V6 is more likely in the new Supra.

Actually, that's a thought. If the Supra went after the BMW, wouldn't it be trampling on the IS-F somewhat? If Toyota wanted to do that they'd make a coupé IS, which they sort of are except that it could be sold as a new model (see the LF-CC). So maybe I've got it wrong here...

Perhaps this will start out as a rival to the 370Z, Z4, TT, SLK and Boxster/Cayman instead, with around 300 horsepower. They'd have to make sure it didn't get caught up by the GT86, but then maybe that's why the boxer-engined car only has 200 horsepower. Could they have planned this out from the start? Who knows. But they could start with a 300 horsepower V6, perhaps based on the 276bhp 3.5-litre V6 used in the Lotus Evora, which is also available in 345bhp Supercharged form. They seem to prefer superchargers to turbos in sports cars as they continue to deny a turbo 86 and grin at suggestions of a supercharged one. So the Supra Twin Turbo may be replaced by the Supra SC, which could have 350 horsepower or perhaps even more.

But of course, it's not just about power, as the GT86 proves. They also have to get the chassis and suspension just right if they want to succeed. To do that with the 86, they needed help from Subaru, but the rally legends have no real experience with cars like Supras, so Toyota may have to team up with someone else, or even find the money to do it themselves. But who? And will we see it bogged down with hybrid technology or simply given KERS to reflect their TS030 endurance racer? It's all up in the air at the moment. We'll have to see how this one plays out, and it could be very interesting......


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