The Toyota Supra has a heritage of being a true sports car, and the new 2020 version is no exception. What’s different is that its development was not exclusively Toyota’s but a tandem effort with BMW. The BMW Z4 is the basis for the Supra, and vice-versa. Each has their own power plant and bits, but they’re essentially the same beast.
i8 No, Supra Yes
Tetsuya Tada was the driving force behind the Supra, and from an interview conducted by Autoblog, he brings insight and future plans into the light. We find that initial talks with BMW were centered around a joint i8, but Tada was more interested in a worthy successor to the Supra. Continued talks had to wait for then-CEO Herbert Diess to move over to VW as its new CEO. Tada was then able to generate new interest in a Supra/Z4 alliance.
Supra vs. BMW Z4
From first impressions of the Supra, it has a more finely-tuned chassis and suspension than the Z4. While the BMW M40i version is powered by a 382 hp straight-six with 369 lb-ft of torque, the Supra specs at 335 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque. Yet it seems more agile and able to corner better. Some have speculated that the Supra’s performance numbers are artificially low.
Both cars utilize the same paddle-shifted eight-speed automatic transmission. The Supra was clocked at 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds. The Supra also finishes the quarter-mile in 12 seconds. The Z4 takes an additional one-half second longer to complete the quarter.
As the Supra’s chassis is capable of handling more power, Tada says Toyota has a method. “With a sports car the promise is to offer more performance with each additional version,” he said. Tada indicated there will be ever-more powerful and improved versions each year. The 2021 version, for instance, will have carbon-ceramic brakes. And an improvement to the 385 hp straight-six engine is expected by 2022.
As we’re seeing with many a new sports car, there will be no manual transmission. Tada suggests going to the slightly smaller Toyota 86 with its six-speed manual. He also nixed an open Supra. “The relationship between the Supra is the Z4 resembles the relationship between the Porsche Cayman and Boxster,” says Tada. In other words, if you want an open-top Supra, buy a Z4.
The Supra features two driving modes, while the Z4 offers many more. That’s one difference. Another difference is that the Z4 utilizes BMW’s latest infotainment system, while the Supra incorporates BMW’s previous-generation system. Tada says this was done “in the interest of reliability.”
He ended Autoblog’s interview by stating, “We have many ideas.” We can hardly wait!