20 July 2020, By Mater Lotteries
The ground-breaking collaboration behind the 2020 Supra GTS
3 min read
Almost two decades since the badge last appeared, the all-new Toyota GR Supra GTS is the product of a highly successful partnership. The new Supra took almost a decade from concept to production but it’s been worth the wait.
A legend in the making
The fifth generation to wear the badge, the 2020 Supra traces its ancestry back to 1978. The original A40 Supra was styled on the Celica with an inline-6 engine replacing the Celica’s inline-4. The tradition continued with the second generaton A60 in 1981, which was marketed internationally as the Celica Supra.
In 1986, the third generation A70 cut ties with the Celica in favour of the Supra nameplate. The 1987 Supra was the first to boast a turbo engine and was the fastest Japanese car at the time. Rear-wheel drive and manual transmission were standard and electronically-controlled independent suspension was introduced.
The fourth generation A80 Supra’s naturally aspirated twin-turbo straight-6 engine roared to life from beneath a uniquely curved body and huge spoiler in 1993. It was available in both manual and automatic transmission and showcased a number of new automotive features including front passenger airbags.
Fast and Furious Fame
In an ironic twist of fate, the 1994 A80 Supra Mark IV shot to fame in the movie The Fast and The Furious in 2001, three years after Toyota had pulled the plug on Supra production in North America (although the car remained in production for other markets until 2002).
Rumours of a Supra comeback started a decade ago
While the blockbuster movie produced one box-office shattering new film after another; Toyota has been hard at work getting the Supra nameplate back out there.
Rumours of a Supra comeback first flared in 2007 when Toyota announced plans to build the Future Toyota Hybrid Sport (FT-HS). The car would feature a hybrid drivetrain, powered by a 3.5-litre V6 gas engine and electric motor. It would deliver an estimated 298 kW and go from 0-100km/h in just 4 seconds. While hints of this concept are traceable in the Toyota 86, the FT-HS never entered production.
Things went quiet until the company announced the Toyota FT-1 Concept in 2014. This striking coupe echoed the styling of the 2000GT, MR-2 and Supra. While no promises were made that the new car would carry the Supra badge, the buzz continued until mid-2018.
Debuting in red, white and black camouflage
In July of that year, a close-to-production Toyota sports car was unveiled in bold colours and sporting a turbocharged inline-6 engine. It was no secret that this car was not a purebred Toyota.
For the new model to meet the demands of loyal Supra fans, Toyota knew it had to have a straight-six engine. The model’s identity depended on it. “Every previous Supra generation had an inline-six. Customers expect nothing less in the next,” said Toyota Chief Engineer Tatsuya Tada, adding, “The straight six is the only engine with perfect balance and low vibration. We can realize smooth driving with exciting sound.”
This meant Toyota either had to build a new engine factory or find a new partner. They turned to BMW as one of the few companies still specialising in turbocharged straight-six engines.
A German-Japanese Duo
This unique partnership lead to mutual success as both Toyota and BMW agree that without it, the Toyota Supra and the BMW Z4 would not exist today.
The two companies worked side-by-side on the chassis, then separately tuned the BMW engines, ZF transmissions and suspensions to meet their own specs. In fact the Toyota and BMW teams did not drive each other’s cars until just before production started.
Limited release, resounding success!
The end result was an immensely successful car that makes a powerful statement. In fact, the 2020 GR Supra GTS has been so popular that it sold out in Australia… in minutes… twice….
What’s more, the 2020 Toyota Supra GTS, in classic orange, is set to reclaim big screen fame. It will line up in the latest Fast and Furious movie scheduled to hit the circuit next year.
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