Toyota’s Renewed Marriage With BMW May Yield a More Potent Sports Car

Toyota U S A Headquarters exteriors, Torrance, Ca.

Automotive manufacturers will often form an alliance to tackle specific projects in order to better shoulder the financial and other burdens of research and development, and in that arena, Toyota has been using the strategy to push out some pretty nifty vehicles. Its bond with Subaru parent Fuji Heavy Industries yielded a pretty sweet entry-level sports car, the Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S, but Toyota is looking to bring its performance car credentials into a bigger league, and is doing so through a newly formed partnership with BMW.

“We have agreed on a joint architecture for a sports car. What is important is that there will be two different vehicles that are authentic to the two brands,” Reuters quoted BMW’s development chief Herbert Diess as telling a German news paper. While BMW’s stable is largely performance-based, Toyota’s product lines are far more utilitarian, built instead for the greater mass market to please a higher volume of customers while BMW tackles performance and comfort-oriented enthusiasts.

However, Toyota’s history has shown some bright spots in the sports car and performance segments, from the venerable Toyota 2000GT to the timeless Supra line from that was produced for a couple of decades before being shelved in 2002. Since then, fans of the car have been eagerly awaiting its successor.

The joint program with Subaru initially fueled speculations that the resulting vehicle would fill the Supra’s shoes, though upon its release, it was clear that the BRZ/FR-S was aimed at a more entry-level performance market, leaving plenty of room above — both in specs and in price (the FR-S starts at about $25,000) — for a more potent option. The agreement with BMW to develop a sports car platform builds upon the existing partnership between the two companies to jointly work in various areas, including lithium-air batteries and lightweight technology, from a marriage signed back in January, Reuters reports.

The German paper declined to offer further details on the products planned for development, but earlier this year the companies stated that they would look into the potential for a joint platform for a mid-sized sports vehicle in a feasibility study that is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.