Toyota’s return of the Supra has to be the most exciting vehicle nobody knows anything about right now. We know it was co-developed with BMW using the same platform as the new Z4 and we have a pretty good idea of what it will look like in production form. But the void of technical specs has left us digging for any morsel of information that might sustain us.
A new morsel has come in and it might be disappointing to those of you living outside the bonds of reality. The new Supra will not be an easily affordable automobile.
This shouldn’t be incredibly surprising. The Supra Mark IV wasn’t exactly automotive history’s greatest bargain. In the late 1990s, you could purchase a Mustang SVT Cobra and a Honda Civic DX for what it cost to acquire a base-model Supra. So there is no reason to assume the forthcoming edition will be intended for 86 or BRZ shoppers that recently received a modest pay increase from Best Buy.
According to the Netherlands’ AutoRAI, Toyota’s vice president of R&D, Gerald Killmann, took a pause from debating environmental politics to discuss the Supra’s future pricing. The author was attempting to have Killmann cop to Europe leading the way in terms of pollution regulations but he was having none of it, saying it was a topic best left for political discourse.
Changing gears, AutoRAI allowed the Toyota executive to discuss Gazoo Racing — which flowed nicely into Supra talk. “This car was mainly developed in Japan,” Killmann explained in Dutch. “The European R&D center is not much involved. There will be a race version and [after] we have shown the production version, we can tell more.”
We already know it’ll share a significant portion of its most essential components with BMW’s Z4 but Killmann outlined some of the important the differences.
“The platform is the same. The same applies to the powertrain,” he said. “The styling is of course completely different and also the adjustment of the chassis will be very different. The powertrain is not a hybrid, but a petrol engine. It will not be a cheap car. There will be a clear difference between the GT86 and Supra. The GT86 remains the affordable sports car, the Supra becomes the performance model. Whether the production will be limited, we are not going [to say] now.”
Speculation, helped by industry rumors, has the new Z4 working with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and optional inline 3.0-liter engine. History would point to both the BMW and the Toyota using the latter motors as their more prestigious powerplants and BMW already has an turbocharged inline-six in the M3 and M4 that could be ready for adoption.
Pricing, however, requires a bit more creativity. Assuming Toyota adheres to a similar pricing target as it did in the 1990s, the new model should be in the $48,000-$62,000 range — if you adjust for inflation, account for where the yen is today, and remain optimistic about Supra transaction prices. That value also syncs up with the Z4’s MSRP for the last year it was sold.
Is that a good deal?
Let’s bring back the Mustang for a second, not the Fox platform we mentioned earlier, but the one from today. For roughly $35,000, you can walk away with a Ford coupe that cranks out 460 hp to the rear wheels. Excluding some miracle, there is no way Toyota can offer to do that with the Supra. That doesn’t mean it won’t outshine the Mustang GT in terms of performance, but it will be a Japanese (kind-of European) car competing in roughly the same segment at a much higher price point. Which, incidentally, was what exactly was going on in the 1990s.
However, Ford probably won’t be the biggest threat to Toyota, nor will it dictate its final price. The real issue is the current state of the sports-car market. Performance vehicles aren’t status symbols anymore and have been largely replaced by more-profitable crossovers and trucks. That’s what makes Killmann’s mention of “limited production” so interesting.
While we hadn’t assumed the Supra would be replacing the RAV4 as Toyota’s new volume leader, we hadn’t heard any mention that Toyota would be considering it as a limited-run vehicle. If so, the company could theoretically charge an arm and a leg for it.