Before the 2000s, the Toyota Supra was not nearly as popular of a car as it is today. No one really wanted a “muscle” car from Japan that could compete with American muscle like the Corvette. But, thanks to Fast and Furious and numerous video games, the Toyota Supra became massively popular and a cult began to build around it.
When the famed 2JZ engine came around, all of a sudden the Supra became a legend. It turned into a car that could smoke the GR-T, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and everything else (with mods). The current generation of car enthusiasts grew up with this version of the Supra, in fact, and in their heads the car is not a competition to the AMG A45 or Audi RS3. No, it’s a car that should be able to take on a Ferrari 458 Italia!
But the truth is, the car can’t take on a 458, and it never could—at least not in stock form. For the kind of performance the Supra would need to do that, it would probably have to be branded a Lexus and would sell for $100,000. But would it be worth it? Would people buy their beloved machine if it wasn’t a Toyota any longer? Who knows.
What we do know, is the new 2020 Toyota Supra looks very promising and exciting. Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada has gone to incredible lengths to make this car worthy of the fans who love Supras so much. He’s seemingly built a car just for them. But we don’t know how he did a lot of the things needed to accomplish these grand tasks, because he’s keeping a tight lip.
Here are 20 facts about the new Toyota Supra that don’t make a whole lot of sense, but excite us nonetheless.
20 Most Of The Vents Aren’t Real
Here’s something that doesn’t make much sense: most of the vents on the new Supra are just for show. If you’re a fan of functional aerodynamics, you might be disappointed that there are a few unnecessary, non-functional elements to the new Toyota. The little sweep door goes nowhere, as do the front and hood vents, and the air extractors at the rear. All the black plastic with no airflow definitely cuts back on the car’s purposeful look, which is a bit head-scratching. In total, the new Supra has 10 fake vents on the outside of the car. Tada answered this, saying, “If you look at the vehicle today, there are holes all over the body. They’re just capped on the production car. Those are for the racing model.”
19 It’s A Two-Seater
Even the non-racing, production model version of the new Supra will be a two-seater. The car shares platforms with the BMW Z4, which we’ll get to later, and so it shares this same two-seater, roadster concept. People suspected this would be the case for the new car, but it was reassuring to hear it from the mouth of the engineer: “For this Supra, we did not have to take into account practical elements like back seats. We wanted to make a pure sports car and to come up with an ideal balance to realize optimal performance, which we decided on a two-seater.” That means the A90 Supra will be the fifth-generation Supra, but the first two-seater in a long line of four-seater cars.
18 It Runs On Turbocharged Inline-Six Power
The 2020 Toyota Supra will be powered by a turbocharged inline-six-cylinder engine. This is important to Supra superfans and for tradition. Tada told Motor Trend that, “Without exception, from the first generation to the fourth generation, we always fulfilled this element of straight-six engines in all Supras. Our Supra fans around the world know that. I’ve actually heard from many of these fans that if that element is not covered, it’s not a Supra anymore.” So, this might not be very surprising to many, but it leads us to an element of the car that doesn’t make as much sense…
17 There Could Be A Hybrid Variant
A hybrid-powered Toyota Supra could be in the works! Tetsuya Tada brought up the possibility of a hybridized variant of the car since Toyota has a lot of experience there, but he declined to give specifics about the system’s origins or engine displacement. The engine that will run in the Supra is a BMW-powered inline-six, and when asked whether that engine could work with Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD) rear-drive transmission, Tada said, “You mean as in Lexus LC? Yes, we are considering. Aisin is the transmission supplier and they already have a relationship with BMW.” We don’t know yet whether the hybrid version will utilize the I-6 (like the LC) or one of BMW’s other inline engines (an I-4 or I-3).
16 It Has Perfect Balance
Weight balance will be perfect on the new Toyota Supra, which is surprising because that’s never been the case with the car in other generations. It will have a 50:50 front-to-rear ratio. Prior to taking up the A90 Supra project, Tada was chief engineer on the Toyota-Subaru 2+2 sports car project that led to the Toyota 86/Scion FR-C/Subaru BRZ triplet. That project was powered by a four-cylinder boxer engine supplied by Subaru. The flat layout of the boxer provided a handling advantage, but it was also a bit too front heavy. “For Supra, we made sure that there will be a perfect balance in terms of weight: 50:50,” said Tada.
15 It Won’t Have A Rear Transaxle
This is a head-scratcher for many: the fact that the Supra won’t have a rear-mounted transaxle, which you’d think it would need in order to achieve all these conflicting goals. This would mean the transmission would connect to the differential and axles just ahead of the rear wheels, rather than being mounted at the rear of the engine (the former layout is common in many high-performance sports cars). Tada said, “Obviously that is one point we are discussing. And in fact, Lexus LFA utilizes transaxle layout. And obviously there are benefits to a transaxle, but it increases complexity, cost, and therefore price to the consumer. For Supra, our ambition is that it is affordable to as many sports car fans as possible. We would really like to keep a reasonable price and the low center of gravity, without relying on transaxle technology.”
14 It Has Active Torque Vectoring
One thing the 2020 Toyota Supra does have, however, that is a new element, is active torque vectoring. Unlike the Toyota 86 entry-level sports car, which uses a brake-based system called VSC Track Mode to brake the rear wheel on the inside of the turn and send torque to the outside wheel (via Torsen LSD), the Supra will reportedly use a higher-performance active torque vectoring differential. Tada declined to give details on this aspect of the car, or what kind of torque vectoring will be used, so it really doesn’t make sense until we find out more. How will the car accomplish its goals of tight handling without VSC Track Mode?
13 It Has Mysterious Steering
The steering on the car is another mysterious aspect that not too much has been revealed about, yet. The Supra will purportedly have electronic power steering, but not steer-by-wire, or brake-by-wire, either. Motor Trend said that Tada seemed genuinely confused when we asked if a steer-by-wire system would help solve any packaging problems, because in every major market, cars with fully electronic steering systems must have redundant mechanical linkages, in case of system failure. The rules haven’t changed, so it makes no sense how the Supra’s steering will work. Perhaps the team building the car has found away around it, since Tada flatly denied that the Supra will have a brake-by-wire system.
12 It’s Influenced By Porsche
Porsche is apparently the benchmark for the new Supra, and that’s a pretty good competitor to go after. When asked which vehicles his team had been examining before building the Supra, Tada said, “There is no clear benchmark in terms of this Supra model. But every time there is a new model from Porsche, we make sure to buy them and study them. So that is one important reference.” We wonder how many similarities the new Supra will share with the newest Porsche models, if any. Tada also said that Porsches, in general, are his favorite cars ever (outside of the obvious Toyotas).
11 There’s An E-Racing Future For The Supra
Supra is racing around the world at the moment with the Gazoo Racing Supra Concept, which showed at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. According to Tada, the Gazoo Racing Supra Concept will be available to drive in a global “virtual e-race” series put together by the FIA and PlayStation racing game Gran Turismo. This sounds awesome, but slightly confusing. Gran Turismo founder Kazunori Yamauchi’s long-standing love affair with sports cars, and his deep connections with car manufacturers (especially from Japan), means that this announcement is highly praised, but not surprising. Neither is Tada’s statement that, “The sensation of driving will be quite realistic. We inputted so many new technologies.”
10 And A Real-Life Racing Future
Of course, if there’s going to be “virtual e-racing” with the new Supra concept, then there has to be actual, real-life racing, too, right? Yes, the Supra will return to racing in the Super GT top level GT500 class. Setting e-racing aside for a moment, the Supra will also compete in various series in real life, including the Super GT, which is popular in Japan and throughout Asia. This is basically the modern version of the legendary Grand Touring Championship (also from Japan), in which the A80 Supra competed in the top level GT500 class. When asked whether the A90 Supra would compete in the lower GT300, or GT500 (Lexus currently campaigns their 600-hp LC 500 race car there), Tada replied with a smile, “GT500.”
9 There’s A Chance For A Manual
Tetsuya Tada was neither able to confirm nor deny the type of transmission that the Supra will get, or any transmission information, really, but he did say that manual transmission “makes perfect sense.” He also said that his team didn’t get an overwhelming demand for one, however, which is hard for us to believe. While earlier rumors cite leaked information that claimed there would be no manual transmission, the car is still being developed, of course, and there is hope that the rumors could be wrong. Auto Guide has written extensively on this subject, hoping that the new Supra will get a manual transmission, and we don’t see how it couldn’t.
8 It Has More Power Than Specs Reveal
One of the writers at Top Speed wrote that he’s unsure about the maximum power output of the new Supra. You see, Toyota claims that the BMW-sourced, 3.0-liter inline-six has an output of 335 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. But the acceleration numbers for the new Supra give it 4.1 seconds for 0-60 mph, and 4.3 seconds for 0-62, which seems a bit too quick for 335 horsepower. The biggest competitor to the new Supra is the Porsche 718 Cayman S, which is the car that Toyota aims to beat. With a 2.5-liter, 350-hp four-cylinder engine, turbocharged, and Sports Chrono Package, it will do 60 mph in 4.0 seconds. The Supra shares its engine with the BMW Z4 M40i, an in order to achieve 4.1 seconds, Top Speed thinks the Supra might have a bit of overboost.
7 It Will Probably Replace The GT86
The 2020 Toyota Supra will probably replace the Toyota GT86, and many people believe that’s a good thing. Here’s why: most people were rather disappointed with the 200 horsepower that the BRZ/GT86 brought. So many people, in fact, that Toyota officials have said that the new Supra will be the perfect vehicle for those who found the GT86’s power or performance lacking. In order to provide an acceptable replacement to the GT86, Toyota offers the Supra with a smaller, BMW-sourced 2.0-lilter engine with 255 horsepower. Then there’s also a 194-hp version in Japan! Both of those Supras sound better than the GT86.
6 It Has A Nearly Flat Floor
There’s a tricky thing going on here that makes little sense, when you consider that the visual components of the new Toyota Supra make you believe that the car is all about aerodynamics. Especially with all those vents (which we’ve discovered are fake), what other conclusion could you draw? I mean, the Supra sounds like a small, aerodynamic masterclass in engineering, even with the fake vents. And one of the most important interior aspects of that is the flat floor (aside from the tunnel for the exhaust pipe). This is really important for the airflow under the car, as well as high-speed stability.
5 Its Central Light Is Actually A Reverse Light
The new 2020 Toyota Supra’s central light is actually a reverse light, which at first might boggle the mind a bit. But this reverse light is also a throwback to racing cars, and especially to F1 cars. For the F1, the red central rear light is activated once it starts raining, when the F1 car decelerates, or when some kind of a hazard is on the road. This cool design might make the new Supra seem a bit fake, but not really when you think about it. It’s a cool throwback design, with some functionality added in, and it’s a nice design cue to show that Toyota really cares about building a nice sports car.
4 It’s Just As Stiff As The Carbon-Fiber Lexus LFA Supercar
It’s crazy to think that not only does the new Supra have double the body rigidity of the Toyota 86, but is will also have the same body rigidity as that of the Lexus LFA supercar, which is one of the best supercars ever produced (and one of its famed qualities was the rigidity)! But Supra chief designer Tetsuya Tada said that “It’s actually the same level of rigidity as the Lexus LFA supercar, and it has been achieved without using carbon fiber, so we could keep the price point at an affordable level. That was the most difficult thing to achieve.” It seems like Toyota and BMW really managed to create a wonder with this one.
3 It’s Almost More BMW Than It Is Toyota
It’s not just the engine that’s BMW-based. And this might explain the car’s rigidity and the team’s attention to detail. The new Supra was basically made with the BMW Z4 as its target—and we’re not sure what differences there are between the cars, other than that the interior of the Supra will be different than the Z4’s. But the inside is full of BMW parts: buttons, the Infotainment, the modified software, the seats, the stalks. In fact, Toyota has used almost exclusively BMW parts. If you’re a Toyota fan, you might not notice these BMW logos right away, but if you look under the hood or glance at the suspension, you’ll see BMW logos on almost every part there. All the green highlights pictured above are BMW's stuff.
2 It’s Almost The Same Size As The Toyota 86
The FT-1 Concept Supra that was previewed before the new 2020 Supra was unveiled was much larger than the 2020 version will be. The new Supra will actually be surprisingly compact, which surprises a lot of people. In fact, it’s just 5.8 inches longer than the Toyota 86. The 86, which is Toyota’s entry-level sports car, also has four inches more wheelbase than the Supra. The Supra is 4.4 inches shorter than the Corvette (the counterpart from America that everyone is comparing it to), and it’s the shortest Supra of all time: 11 inches shorter than the A60 1981 Toyota Supra.
1 But It’s Way Different Than The 86
Even though it shares similarities with the Toyota 86, the 2020 Supra is a much different vehicle. Firstly, its center of gravity will be lower, and this is after the 86 was designed with a flat layout with its boxer-four engine, which gave the car a handling advantage to keep mass, and a lower center of gravity. We aren’t sure how the Supra will top this, but chief designer Tetsuya Tada says it will. Secondly, the new Supra will have double the body rigidity of the Toyota 86. As Tada told Motor Trend, “Another important goal we have as we are preparing the production version of this car is that we will have a two-fold increase in body rigidity compared to GT86.”
References: hagerty.com, motortrend.com, topspeed.com, autoguide.com