Features

Future Japanese Sports Cars: Nissan GT-R, Lexus SC, and Toyota Supra

Big power from three wild new sports coupes.

Nissan GT-R

What We Know

Details about the second-generation version of today’s Nissan GT-R are swirling, courtesy of two major players with close ties to Japan’s next supercar. First, Nissan’s design director, Shiro Nakamura, confirmed at a media event in Britain that the next version of the fast but slow-selling supercar from Japan will remain a front-engine 2+2 coupe with all-wheel drive. Yet he also told GT-R loyalists not to get their hopes up about the car adopting the styling cues of the Concept 2020 Vision Gran Turismo, created by Nissan for the most recent version of the “Gran Turismo” video game. Meanwhile, race-car designer Ben Bowlby, the man behind the DeltaWing and Nissan ZEOD R/C, confirmed that the next road-going GT-R will feature a version of the same twin-turbo, 3.0-liter V-6 with hybrid power that propels the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO race car, which appeared in June’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in France. This means the standard street version of the powertrain should easily eclipse the 545 hp produced by the present GT-R’s twin-turbo, 3.8-liter V-6 and perhaps surpass the 600 hp made by the special-edition GT-R NISMO’s V-6.

Why It Matters

Godzilla continues to inspire just as many fanboy arguments about its capabilities as ever. When you consider that the current GT-R first turned a record lap at the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 2009, its sustained competitiveness against cars such as the Corvette Z06 and McLaren 650S is really something to behold. So we can only imagine how awesome the hybrid-boosted performance will be when the fully updated model arrives. We also expect it’ll be complete (at last) with an up-to-date interior and much-improved overall refinement.

Potential Pitfalls

We’re not sure the next Nissan GT-R can disappoint, given its devotion to technology and ungodly performance-per-dollar quotient. Today’s GT-R has taken knocks for being overly complicated and clunky, though that is usually a matter of personal taste. Still, it is not impossible to imagine a new car laden with even more technology suffering teething issues. And is there a chance that the legal dispute between Don Panoz on one side and Nissan, Bowlby, and Nissan motor­sports boss Darren Cox on the other could impact GT-R development?

When to Expect It

Not before 2018.

Lexus SC


What We Know

Lexus wants to be anything but boring. Polarizing styling and high-performance models are a start, but a big, flashy coupe is a must to cement Lexus in the luxury big leagues. Based on the next-generation Lexus LS, the new two-door will offer three potent powertrains: a high-output version of the brand’s 5.0-liter V-8, a hybrid setup making around 500 hp, and a range-topping F with a twin-turbo V-8 that could top 600 hp. Lexus hopes the revival of the SC name will evoke memories of the elegant SC coupe from the 1990s.

Why It Matters

The Lexus LS hasn’t really filled its flagship shoes since the 1990s, and the sensational LFA was a hypercar with little real-world appeal. A high-style, high-performance coupe that’s more accessible could bring cachet to Lexus. That’s “accessible” in reference to the LFA, of course. The SC should push past the $100,000 mark, relatively unfamiliar territory for Lexus.

Potential Pitfalls

Big coupes should be classically beautiful, something that might be difficult for Lexus to express with its aggressive, angular styling language.

When to Expect It

Mid- to late 2016 as a 2017 model.

Toyota Supra


What We Know

When Toyota revealed its FT-1 concept at the 2014 Detroit auto show, the car recalled glorious models of the Japanese manufacturer’s sports-car past, notably the 2000GT and, yes, the revered Supra. The aerocentric FT-1 concept, conceived by Toyota’s California-based Calty Design Research arm, might not be representative of an upcoming production car’s ultimate styling and proportions. But a partnership between Toyota and BMW to share a new midsize sports-car platform dubbed “Silk Road” should give the project a solid foundation. Toyota has hinted the rear-wheel-drive production car will pack a twin-turbo, inline-six engine and possibly a turbo-four, both BMW-sourced.

Why It Matters

The Toyota Supra disappeared in 2002, and fans have been clamoring for its revival ever since. Despite cars like the Lexus RC F, Toyota needs another strong competitor in the increasingly capable enthusiast market. Unfortunately, the Scion FR-S hasn’t moved the needle, simply because it doesn’t make a strong enough statement. A Toyota Supra must be a super sports car, not simply sporty like the FR-S.

Potential Pitfalls

As noted, a ready-made audience of potential Supra buyers exists and is hungry. Hybrid power, though unlikely, would make the car less tuner-friendly and less appealing to aftermarket performance junkies. And then there is this: Toyota might elect to not use the Supra badge. Maybe the car would carry branding from Lexus instead, which would move it upmarket. This would be a risky move, but it’s probably safe to say that it’s unlikely, since creating more rivalry between Lexus and BMW wouldn’t suit the plan now in the works for cooperation between the two marques.

When to Expect It

Industry rumblings vary, but the Toyota Supra likely arrives either in 2016 as a 2017 model or 2017 as a 2018 model.

Comments

Buying Guide

2018 Lexus LC 500

Approx. Retail Price N/A Base Coupe
Motor Trend Rating
StarStarStarStarHalf-Star