Tuesday, January 15, 2019

I'm Not Digging the 2020 Toyota Supra (w/ 21 Photos)


So the world gets an all-new Toyota Supra. Yay. Hurray. Nothing to see here, so move along. After countless concept cars, teases, spy shots, unintentional reveals, and all—I’m pretty underwhelmed at the final result. Sure, some of us will get a kick out of some 1990s nostalgia, but that’s all the all-new Supra really is: nostalgia. It’s the JDM New Beetle, honestly.

I purposely waited a full 6 hours after its reveal to write its story in the hopes of accepting the 2020 Supra, but I just can’t. In its press release, Toyota tells the story of how this “A90” embodies their rich racing heritage; of how the double-bubble roof recalls the 2000 GT and that the face is reminiscent of the fourth-generation turbo. While I have no issue with Toyota bringing up the Supra’s ancestors, I could readily point out that it looks like a mess. A hot mess it may be, but a mess nonetheless. Toyota calls it “functional by design,” and for once, they nailed the description right on the head.



Then, you get to the part where Toyota starts describing the Supra’s performance—that it was tested personally by “Master Driver” and Toyota President extraordinaire Akio Toyoda on the Nürburgring to “ensure it exceeds the expectations of Supra fans across the globe.” Honestly, this shouldn’t be a hard feat to achieve given the last time Toyota sold a Supra was 17 years ago—the operating system of choice was Windows XP and the the Iomega Zip Drive was still around. The biggest offense is that Toyota needed BMW’s help to achieve this.

Yes, Supra fanatics will defend Toyota’s decision to do a collaboration and that the 2020 Supra has its own unique suspension components and tuning compared to its BMW Z4 mechanical twin, but the attributes Toyota was mentioning—50/50 front-to-back weight distribution, low center of gravity, neutral cornering balance—those are attributes are more BMW than Toyota. This isn’t a “fun-to-drive” Toyota in the purest sense. If you want one of those, look at the Lexus RC F Track Edition instead.



And let’s get to the engine: it’s by BMW. For the North American market, the Supra comes with a 3.0-liter inline-6 pushing out 340 horsepower and 500 Nm of torque thanks to a twin-scroll turbocharger, direct-injection tech, and variable timing on both intake and exhaust. That’s all well and good until you find out that the limited-edition Subaru WRX STI pushes out 341 horsepower—and that’s with the prehistoric 2.5-liter EJ257 Boxer engine. Even worrying is that for other markets, like Japan, the Supra gets a 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbo. The mid-grade version isn’t too bad with 258 horsepower and 400 Nm of torque, but the base model gets only 197 horsepower and 320 Nm of torque—that’s 7 horsepower down its smaller (and cheaper) normally-aspirated sibling, the Toyota 86. Thankfully, Toyota did fit an 8-speed automatic (no manual transmission option) with short ratios on the lower gears and a built-in Launch Control so the century mark still arrives at scant 4.1 seconds (for the 6-cylinder).

Purely a rear-driver, the Supra does have a trick active differential that can distribute torque (or lock them) between the rear wheels.



Perhaps the best (or worst) part is the Supra’s price. For the U.S. market, it starts at just below USD 50,000 (~ P 2,600,000) and goes up to around USD 56,000 (~ P 2,900,000). This means the Supra stands to be the most affordable nostalgia-tugging Japanese sportscar compared to the GT-R, NSX, and even the limited-edition Subaru WRX STI Type RA. It’s even just a tad more than the aging Nissan 370Z. On the flipside, it’s within the same price range as its mechanical twin, the BMW Z4—and the Z4 is the only one that offers standard open-top motoring fun.

Since I’ve never driven the car in its production form (no one from the Philippine press has), I want to reserve my final judgement until then. As it stands though, this isn’t the same Supra from the 90’s heyday. Cars like the Honda (Acura) NSX and the Nissan GT-R R35 were quickly criticized for not being close to their forebearers—that they were too heavy, too complicated, and too complex. Maybe, but at least they were built from the ground-up, with pride, by the companies whose badge you see upfront. The 2020 Supra? It’s simply a BMW in Toyota clothing. Heck, it’s even made in Magna Steyr—a contract outsourcing assembly plant in Graz, Austria.



Rants aside, if you want to read about the 2020 Toyota Supra in a press release-y sort of way, continue on below.



Press Release
Toyota Premieres New Supra at Detroit Auto Show

Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) premiered its much-anticipated all-new Supra today at the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Sales in Japan of the new Supra are slated to start around spring 2019.

The new Supra is the first global model of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing's GR sports car series. Ever since first competing in Germany's 24 Hours of Nürburgring endurance race in 2007, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing has been aiming through its motorsports activities to develop its cars and people, with the goal of "making ever-better cars." The knowledge and know-how it has built up over the years have been funneled into bringing the Supra back to life in the form of the "GR Supra," as a car that people the world over will find fun to drive.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda, who is also a master driver, said: "Back in the day, I spent countless hours driving an old Supra at Nurburgring to become a master driver. Supra is like an old friend that holds a special place in my heart. While other manufacturers were putting their beautiful new prototypes which they were going to introduce through the paces, I was driving an old Supra that was no longer in production. So even though Toyota had no plans to make a new Supra, just like a lot of other die hard Supra fans around the world, I secretly wanted to make it happen. The new GR Supra was born through testing at Nurburgring, and I can honestly say that it is a car that is fun to drive and better than ever."

The all-new fifth-generation Supra marks the end of a 17-year hiatus since the conclusion of production of the previous generation in 2002. Ever since the Supra's inception in 1978, all generations have been front-engine, rear-wheel-drive vehicles powered by an inline six-cylinder engine. The latest rendition is no exception. This time around, extensive attention has also been paid to the three fundamental elements of wheelbase, tread, and center of gravity, thus achieving handling performance befitting a pure sports car.

Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada, who headed development, said: "We set out to create a pure sports car that would attain the ultimate in the fun of driving. Rather than only working toward specs such as horsepower and circuit lap times, we emphasized sensitivity performance, such as the degree to which driving could be felt to be fun, with car and driver becoming one."

Also today, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing launches the "Supra is Back" edition of a global television commercial series to promote the new Supra. Appearing are top-class TOYOTA GAZOO Racing drivers, making a good match for the first global model of the GR series.

Key Features:

Packaging in pursuit of the fundamental origins of a pure sports car
  • To achieve excellent handling and a stable cornering stance, the three elements of wheelbase, tread, and center of gravity were positioned as the most important factors in pursuing the ideal conception of a pure sports car.
  • Being straightforward about the model being a two-seater, at 2,470 mm, its wheelbase is 100 mm shorter than that of the 86.
  • The relatively short wheelbase results in a wheelbase-to-tread ratio of 1.55, one of the smallest ratios among mass-production sports cars, contributing to excellent turning performance.
  • All-out efforts were made to lower the center of gravity, resulting in a lower center of gravity than in the 86, which features a horizontally opposed engine.
  • An ideal 50/50 distribution in front/rear weight balance, which is one of the crucial elements in determining cornering performance, was achieved.
Styling that fully leverages sports car packaging and layout characteristics
  • The styling is based on the concept of "Condensed Extreme L6 FR 'TOYOTA' Sports."
Exterior highlights
  • Side-view packaging that emphasizes the presence of the wheels and tires, thanks to a short wheelbase and large-diameter wheels
  • A two-seater-appropriate, close-fitting cabin and a super-wide stance born of a wide tread
  • The long-nose, short-cabin silhouette of an inline-6, front-engine, rear-wheel-drive sports car
Interior highlights
  • The space of a quintessential front-engine, rear-wheel-drive sports car created by a vertically slim instrument panel and a high, wide console
  • A driver's seat-oriented, close-fitting, new-generation cockpit layout resulting from a shift-by-wire gearshift, an 8.8-inch TFT gauge display, and a large, full-color head-up display
  • By fully leveraging the sports car packaging and layout characteristics described above, efforts were made to achieve sports styling suitable for the first global model of the GR series.
  • The styling inherits the traditional features of Toyota sports cars, such as a "double bubble" roof, which contributes to reduced air friction (found in the Toyota 2000GT), and an approach for creating a condensed body design by positioning vehicle exterior lamps more inward from the sides of the vehicle to make the fenders appear more voluminous (found in the Toyota 2000GT and fourth-generation Supra).
A high-rigidity body for a higher state of driving performance
  • With a skeletal structure that employs both aluminum and steel, and by pursuing ways to increase bonding strength among materials of differing composition, body rigidity up to 2.5 times higher than that of the 86 was achieved. Rigidity is even higher than that of the Lexus LFA, which features a cabin constructed of carbon fiber-reinforced plastics.
An inline-6 turbo that carries on tradition and an inline-4 turbo to easily enjoy sporty driving
  • The tradition of an inline, six-cylinder engine found in successive generations of the Supra is carried on in the form of a 3.0-liter, inline-6, twin-scroll turbocharged engine. Maximum torque of 500 Nm is produced at a low engine revolution of 1,600 rpm, allowing exhilaration from acceleration that perfectly matches expectations in line with accelerator-pedal operation.
  • Available are two differently tuned 2.0-liter, inline-4, twin-scroll turbocharged engines. One, with a high-performance maximum output of 190 kW (258 PS), is ideal for light, sporty driving, while the other, which musters 145 kW (197 PS), allows for a brisk driving sensation from in-town to highway.
A suspension that enables precise vehicle control
  • A newly designed suspension (front: double-joint spring strut; rear: multi-link) is characterized by reduced unsprung weight, high-rigidity assembly, and minute movability.
  • Certain grades feature the Adaptive Variable Suspension system, which provides a high level of both drivability and riding comfort by optimally controlling such elements as the selected driving mode and the damping force of each wheel's shock absorber depending on the conditions of the road surface.
An active differential for heightened turning performance and stability
  • While coordinating with the Vehicle Stability Control system, an active differential optimally controls the locking ratio between the rear left and right wheels in a stepless range of zero to 100 by way of an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch.
  • When entering a corner, the differential selects the locking ratio for a high level of balance between turning performance and stability. When coming out of a turn with the driver pressing on the accelerator pedal, the locking ratio is increased for optimal traction performance.
Maneuverability honed on the roads of the world
  • With importance placed on the environments in which customers drive in the real world, proving runs were thoroughly and repeatedly conducted on regular roads during various stages of development. Such runs naturally included racing-speed drives at Nürburgring. But numerous tests were also held on a wide range of roads throughout the world, such as country roads in Europe, the Autobahn in Germany, snow-covered and ice-covered roads in Northern Europe, highways in the United States, and winding roads in Japan. The result is tuning aimed at enabling drivers to experience the joy of driving the new Supra even in everyday situations.

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