New Car Previews

Preview: 2020 Toyota Supra

DETROIT, Michigan – It was standing room only at Toyota’s Monday morning press conference at the Detroit auto show. In fact, the crowd spilled out of the hall and down the corridor, relegated to watching the event on one of several screens posted outside.

Virtually a BMW Z4 under its Toyota FT-1 concept-inspired skin.

Calling it “one of the industry’s worst kept secrets,” CEO Akio Toyoda invited Formula One champion Fernando Alonso to join him in introducing the Supra, making its world debut here in Detroit after a 17-year hiatus. Alonso, who is also the FIA World Endurance Championship leader with Toyota Gazoo Racing, agreed with Toyoda that the all-new Supra is “totally lit”. Toyoda, an accomplished race driver in his own right, test drove the new Supra on the Nürburgring racetrack. Calling it an “old friend that holds a special place in my heart,” Toyoda completed countless laps on the legendary circuit back in the day in an original Supra, despite feeling like “a Charlie Brown Christmas tree” next to some of the more exotic race cars.

The Supra’s return has been the stuff of rumours since it was discontinued, reaching a crescendo with Toyota’s 2012 announcement of a sports car joint venture with BMW.

Originally a derivative of the 1978 Celica, the Supra earned its own badge as a separate model in 1986 and became one of the icons of the fast and furious set.

Like the original, the fifth generation Supra is a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive coupe powered by an inline six-cylinder engine. However, the new version targets a different demographic than the tuner crowd and is not meant to be a high-volume seller. While the Supra of the ’80s was a relatively inexpensive compact coupe, the latest version is virtually a BMW Z4 under its Toyota FT-1 concept-inspired skin. It shares the same platform, electronically controlled rear differential, and powertrain as the coupe from Munich, although it puts up lower power numbers than the Z4’s 382 hp.

The BMW-sourced twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0L six-cylinder puts out 335 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque – and for now anyway, is channeled solely through an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

The 3,397 lb coupe can sprint from zero to 100 km/h in 4.1 seconds. The long hood, short deck layout boasts 50:50 weight distribution for balanced handling – aided by an electronic torque vectoring rear differential, and available adaptive suspension.

Aside from the Supra logo on steering wheel and seats, the cabin is identical to the Z4’s – right down to BMW’s rotary-style controller. This is definitely not a bad thing given the German’s flair for interior craftsmanship.

The two-seater initially arrives in two trims; the 3.0 (US $50,920) featuring Alcantara seats and a high-definition 6.5-inch display and available Navigation and 12-speaker JBL sound system. All models come with lane-departure warning, emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and road sign assist.

Moving up to the 3.0 Premium (US$54,920) gets you heated leather seats, an 8.8-inch touchscreen, navigation, heads-up display, wireless Apple CarPlay, and phone charging. Available in both models is a Driver Assist Package with adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot monitor, and parking sensors.

One step up from the 3.0 Premium, is a Launch Edition, (US$56,180) limited to only 1,500 cars. Available in red, white, or black, the special edition cars are individually numbered, with matte-black 19-inch wheels, a red leather interior for white and red cars and all-black for black cars.

The very first car will be auctioned off by Barrett-Jackson on January 19 with all proceeds going to charity. The rest of us will have to wait until it arrives sometime this summer.