A Japanese performance car icon returns in 2019. Does the new Toyota Supra have what it takes to live up to the legend, and satisfy the Supra faithful?
Resurrecting legendary performance cars and supercars is a tough, sometimes thankless business. These days, the task is even more difficult by necessarily evolving automotive engineering framework. Environmental restrictions, safety regulations, and a variety of other factors make design consistency with the previous formula impossible in many cases.
Take Honda’s current NSX, for example, which was relaunched in 2016 after a decade of dormancy. The new version has 573 hybrid horsepower, an ultra-rigid space frame, ideal mid-engined handling dynamics and a low center of gravity, advanced aerodynamics, magnetorheological dampers and carbon ceramic brakes – all the makings of a proper modern supercar, and to me, underrated looks.
Taken in isolation the new NSX seems an obvious success, especially considering that in recent times Honda has been most known for high-quality crossovers and minivans.
There’s just one problem – in the eyes of senescent enthusiasts, the current NSX is competing with this:
And for many, the new NSX just doesn’t carry enough DNA from the car that Ayrton thrashed around Suzuka once upon a time. (Cue obligatory 2:37 timeout for the footage.)
Can reintroductions of beloved performance cars go well? Definitely. The current generation Nissan GT-R, as well as the new Honda Civic Type R have been overwhelmingly well-received.
The upcoming 2019 Toyota Supra has similarly big shoes to fill. The last Supra (MKIV), which spanned from 1993-2002 (1998 in the U.S.), is a Japanese performance car icon. As compared to previous Supra generations, it was a purposeful, lightened, proper driver’s car. Not to mention, tuned by Dominic Toretto and in the hands of Brian Earl Spilner, shamed Ferraris back in the day.
So, what does the upcoming version have in store?
The top of the range 2019 Supra will feature a 6-cylinder turbocharged engine with 330 brake horsepower, which is right about where the MKIV Supra left off. Power will be sent to the rear wheels where it will be managed by a BMW M Sport differential. (Toyota and BMW teamed up to develop a platform that will be shared between the upcoming Supra and BMW Z4.)
Aided by a quick shifting automatic transmission, the Supra’s 0-60 mph time should register in the 4-second range. Yes, the most credible reports are that a ZF automatic transmission will be the only option on offer at launch time. Supra engineers say that a manual transmission could be considered for certain markets if demand proves to be strong enough.
The Supra will have 50/50 weight distribution, and an overall curb weight of about 3,300 lbs. (200-300 lbs. more than the rival Porsche Cayman). Suspension is double wishbone front, and multi-link rear. Adaptive dampers will be featured, with selectable normal and sport modes. Supra prototypes have been spotted wearing Michelin high-performance tires.
Car Magazine in the UK is reporting the following Supra details and basic options as well:
- Wheels in 17, 18 and 19-inch diameters
- LED headlights
- Sports seats available with electric adjustment and memory
- Toyota steering wheel with shift paddles
- Wireless charging, Bluetooth, sat-nav
- Head-up display
- Automatic air-con
- Front and rear parking sensors
The new Supra’s official debut is set for the 2019 Detroit Auto Show in January. Until then, check out this prototype footage from the Goodwood Festival of Speed (sounds darn good), and a very cool video showing Supra evolution through the decades.