TREND

NEARLY A YEAR AWAY, WE DRIVE A ‘90-95% FIN­ISHED’ SUPRA

Motor Trend - - Contents - Chris Walton

IN­TAKE This month’s hot metal

WE SAY Words from our edi­tors

One of the Supra’s as­sis­tant chief en­gi­neers won­dered aloud if any of the gath­ered jour­nal­ists had driven its blood-brother BMW Z4. I alone raised my hand. “What is it like?” Masayuki Kai asked. “Dif­fer­ent,” I said. “Dif­fer­ent, how?” he wanted to know.

No­body in the Supra squad has driven the Z4, nor has BMW driven the fu­ture Supra. The forth­com­ing coupe-only Supra and con­vert­ible-only Z4 share the same hard points, wheel­base, track width, en­gine, trans­mis­sion, dif­fer­en­tial, and tires, among other things, but they were tuned and cal­i­brated sep­a­rately. They re­ally are au­to­mo­tive twins sep­a­rated at birth.

Toy­ota would not share with us any spec­i­fi­ca­tions of the camo-clad pro­to­types—not en­gine out­put, fuel con­sump­tion, di­men­sions, or pric­ing. They wanted our driv­ing im­pres­sions alone.

As all Supras have had, the new­est ver­sion gets an in­li­ne­six. In this case, it’s BMW’S pow­er­ful B58 twin-scroll sin­gle-turbo 3.0-liter. In the Z4 M40i, it’s rated at 382 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque in U.S. spec, but Toy­ota was mum about out­put other than “at least 300 horse­power.” The Supra didn’t feel as pow­er­ful as the Z4 I drove—partly be­cause our Euro-spec Supras had par­tic­u­late ex­haust fil­ters that choke a sig­nif­i­cant amount of horse­power.

There will not be a man­ual trans­mis­sion with this en­gine (wait, what?), but the ubiq­ui­tous ZF eight-speed au­to­matic leads to an elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled two-way clutch­pack dif­fer­en­tial that has step­lessly vari­able lock­ing in ei­ther di­rec­tion be­tween 0 and 100 per­cent. A launch-con­trol sys­tem will pro­duce what Toy­ota says will be 0–60 mph in “less than five sec­onds.”

Toy­ota is proud to claim that the Supra will weigh “un­der 1,500 kilo­grams” (3,307 pounds) with a 50/50 weight dis­tri­bu­tion, and a cen­ter of grav­ity lower than that of the nim­ble GT86. The Supra’s front strut, rear mul­ti­link sus­pen­sion’s spring rates, ad­justable mul­ti­mode adap­tive shocks, anti-roll bars, bump stops, and sin­gle-ra­tio elec­tric-as­sist power steer­ing were all tai­lored by Toy­ota for the Supra and are still open for fi­nal cal­i­bra­tion be­fore the mid-2019 on-sale date. Hence the de­sire for our driv­ing im­pres­sions.

On the race­track, we found the car lin­ear, smooth, and

quiet as it ac­cel­er­ated in Sport mode. We’re told the U.s.spec car will sound a bit more gnarly. There isn’t an iota of turbo lag, and this is ac­cen­tu­ated by the but­tery up- and downshifts.

Com­par­ing the Toy­ota and Z4 M40i, the Bim­mer feels quicker, sharper, and sportier in th­ese re­spects and would likely out­per­form the Supra in its cur­rent state. But in a pol­ished way, the Supra feels more fluid in gen­eral.

At the end of a half-mile straight, with a hair­pin ap­proach­ing, we went to the brakes and found a long pedal and not much feel or bite. It’s not the hard­ware: four-pot Brembo calipers with large-di­am­e­ter vented steel discs with stock pads and DOT 4 fluid. I’ll ven­ture it’s the booster tun­ing, where we’d pre­fer less travel and more bite sooner in the pedal stroke—like the Z4.

There’s plenty of grip avail­able from the Miche­lin Pi­lot Su­per Sports, and about mid­way around cor­ners we found mild un­der­steer. How the Supra ex­its the cor­ners, how­ever, is per­fect. But it’s on pub­lic roads, where most de­vel­op­ment oc­curred, where the car shined. Track-based com­plaints evap­o­rated in the hills, where the car’s flu­id­ity be­came an as­set. It’s ut­terly quiet on the high­way with nearly zero wind noise and barely reg­is­tered tire noise. This is an ex­cel­lent road car.

With a ball­park price of about $60,000, the Supra will be an as­pi­ra­tional sports car. As such, it had bet­ter de­fend that ter­ri­tory with le­git­i­mate per­for­mance. At this stage in de­vel­op­ment, there’s still time to tune out the track short­com­ings. As it sits now, there is huge po­ten­tial in this car.

SPECS Base Price $60,000 (est) Ve­hi­cle Lay­out Front-en­gine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door hatch­back Engine3.0l/335-hp/369-lb-ft (est) tur­bocharged DOHC 24-valve I-6 Trans­mis­sion 8-speed au­to­matic Curb Weight 3,300 lb (mfr est) Wheel­base 97.2 in L x W x H 175.0 x 7.40 x 50.0 in (est) 0-60 MPH 4.5 sec (MT est) EPA City/hwy/comb Fuel Econ 21/31/25 mpg (est) On Sale in U.S. Mid-2019

DIF­FER­ENT HOW? Toy­ota Supra en­gi­neer Masayuki Kai is eager to com­pare his car to BMW’S Z4.

For an ex­panded ver­sion of this re­view, check out Mo­tortrend.com/new­supra.

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