The new Toyota Supra: it's finally here!

14th January 2019
Bob Murray

Toyota has unveiled its new Supra sports coupe at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Despite a 17-year absence, the Supra is back pretty much as Supra fans know and love it: front engine, straight-six petrol motor, rear wheel drive and a snug, driver-orientated two-seater cabin, all wrapped up inside a body that looks like it’s been working out in the gym every day for a year. 


True, you can’t get a manual gearbox – it’s an eight-speed auto – but in other ways it’s like an old friend returning – which is exactly how the man who made this car happen describes it. That would be Toyota chief, and mad-keen driver, Akio Toyoda.

"Back in the day, I spent countless hours driving an old Supra at Nürburgring,” said Toyoda-san in Detroit. “While other manufacturers were putting their beautiful new prototypes through the paces, I was driving an old Supra that was no longer in production.

“Toyota had no plans to make a new Supra, (but) just like a lot of other diehard Supra fans around the world, I secretly wanted to make it happen. Supra is like an old friend that holds a special place in my heart.”


Toyota is billing its £53-57,000 Porsche Cayman rival, arriving in the UK in the summer, as “a pure sports car dedicated to the fun of driving”. And the key stats for this all-new model – the fifth-generation of Supra and a car developed alongside the BMW Z4 convertible – seem to back that up.

But first, the design. We thought we knew what it would look like from the endless teaser images and videos of disguised cars, but in the buff there’s a lot more going on here than we imagined. Minus the camo, the new Supra is a striking car.

That prominent grille flanking the big air intakes gives the car a distinctive face. It fronts a long bonnet and short cabin, with a narrow glasshouse and a double-bubble roof providing a link to the Toyota 2000GT and Toyota’s sports car heritage.

But it’s the way the body bulges out at the sides that defines this car’s character. Love rippling muscles? Look no further. The bulge starts at the sills, ripples through the doors and then flares out wildly over the rear wheels for what must be the most prominent haunches in motordom. The truncated look at the back is topped by a stubby lip spoiler. It reminds us a little of the Maserati GranTurismo, while overall the new Supra’s message of "drive me" couldn’t be more clear.


Ditto on the inside. It all looks quite cosy and driver focused, with the Supra characteristic of a high and wide centre console between driver and passenger. To go with the digital dials is an 8.8-inch TFT display and a colour head-up display.

It’s not a huge car overall. At 4380mm long it’s 140mm longer than its little brother in Toyota’s sporting stable, the GT86. But the interesting thing is the Supra’s wheelbase is 100mm (or four inches) shorter than the GT86’s. With a wide track, the Supra’s footprint is almost square… Well, not quite, but a wheelbase/track ratio of 1.55 does make it unusual among sports cars. 

It’s all done for agility, says Toyota. Helped along by a low centre of gravity – lower than that of the excellent handling GT86 – a 50-50 weight distribution, new suspension and active electronic rear diff, the Supra offers agility, stability and exploitability, according to Toyota. 

The car is an aluminium and steel mix, weighs in at 1520kg (for the six-cylinder) and boasts structural rigidity to beat even that of the carbon fibre Lexus LFA supercar, says Toyota. The wheel size is 19-inch, the tyres wider at the rear than the front, with 17s and 18s for lesser engined versions.


There are three engine options. Supras traditionally being six-pot cars, the flagship gets a 3.0-litre, twin-scroll turbo inline six – it’s an engine that will not be unfamiliar to BMW owners. After Suprafication, it delivers 340PS (335bhp) between 5000-6500rpm, backed up by 500Nm (369 lb ft) of torque from 1600rpm. 0-62mph takes 4.3 seconds which is enough to keep a Porsche Cayman S honest.

The Supra is not immune to engine downsizing, and alongside the six is a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo unit offered with two power outputs: 268PS (264bhp) and 197PS (194bhp), this latter entry car getting from standstill to 62mph in a rather un-Supra-like 6.5 seconds.


A lot of the hardware – and certainly a lot of the “pure sports car” hyperbole – is shared by BMW with its new Z4, the sports convertible half of what is a joint BMW/Toyota project. But the bodies, dimensions, interior design and all the fine tuning are completely different between the cars, as is the Toyota’s suspension with front struts and multi-link rear.

The BMW should be good – it’s being acclaimed as the best Z4 ever – so what will that make the Supra? We have a strong feeling that if Akio Toyoda is happy with it, then so will we be…

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