The real Toyota Supra isn’t here yet, but the GR Supra Racing Concept that just debuted is making enthusiasts hungry for any Supra information they can get their hands on.
Although the press release on the racing concept was low on information regarding a production model, AutoGuide.com was able to sit down with Tetsuya Tada, Toyota’s chief engineer, at a roundtable discussion (and at dinner) to learn more. Fun fact, he’s also the man behind the Toyota 86.
Here are five things we found out about the production Toyota Supra:
1. Perfect Weight Balance
Tada-san has promised that the new Supra will have a perfect 50/50 weight balance. This could be a BMW influence, as they’re masters at the weight distribution game and are co-developing the Supra/Z4 with Toyota, but that ratio would certainly help the Supra’s driving dynamics. Tada-san also said that the Supra will have two-fold body rigidity over the 86 and an even lower center of gravity, “so you can expect the fun-to-drive [factor] to be greater,” Tada-san said through a translator. Because of this, it will be a two-seater, not a 2+2 like Supras past.
2. There’s a Chance for a Manual
Although Tada-san wasn’t able to confirm any type of transmission information for the new Supra, he did say that a manual transmission “makes perfect sense,” but also that Supra loyalists didn’t have an overwhelming demand for one, which is hard to believe. So while earlier rumors citing leaked information claimed that there would be no manual transmission, the car is still being developed and there is hope that those rumors could be wrong.
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3. Turbo Straight Six Confirmed
A turbo straight six engine has been confirmed for the new Supra because this was “an indispensable element” for fans of the Japanese sports car. “When we started this project, the first thing we did was to make sure to listen to the various requests and comments of the Supra fanbase around the world,” Tada-san said. The sports car will get an electrically assisted power steering system along with a true torque vectoring system that won’t be integrated with the brakes.
The other non-negotiables for them were a front-engine/rear-drive configuration and the ability to customize and modify the car and engine. Tada-san said he learned some important lessons with the 86 — it wasn’t easy to add more power without changing the car’s purity and dynamics, so he’s making sure the engine in the Supra will have the capacity to support tunes to increase output. “This car can be boosted up to higher engine [specs] while keeping the fun-to-drive element,” he said.
He also said a hybrid model isn’t likely, dispelling previous rumors. He did make a joke that the Supra will have zero emissions and be extremely safe in its first race because it will be a virtual E race! The GR Supra Racing Concept will have its racing debut in Gran Turismo Sport in April.
4. Porsche Influences
Tada-san said there was no direct car Toyota benchmarked in development for the Supra, but that “every time there are new models coming out from Porsche, we make sure to buy them and study them.” He also said Porsches in general as his favorite cars ever (outside of the obvious Toyotas).
5. Future GR Models Coming?
“This GR Supra Racing Concept is a concept car, but its the first concept model of the first production car that would go under the GR model, and that’s important,” Tada-san said. Does this mean we can expect other performance-oriented Toyota GR models in the future that are inspired by motorsports? We hope so.
Bonus: Toyota and BMW started this partnership about six years ago, but it wasn’t easy at first. It took the two teams two whole years to establish a good working relationship. “We have quite a lot of differences in terms of the way we make cars, the developmental process between the two companies, the philosophies of the companies, as well as the mentality of the people,” Tada-san said. “We had to overcome a lot of differences.” There were a few crisis moments in the partnership, he said, but “after many years, we are now able to understand each other much better and now our developmental cooperation is going very smoothly.”
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