The GR Toyota Supra Race Car Concept should dispel any notion that the all-new, fifth-generation Toyota Supra was going to be some sort of half-baked, weaksauce take on the brand’s storied nameplate. Toyota made that abundantly clear by previewing the coming street car version of the Supra in full race trim today at the 2018 Geneva auto show. Take your beige and shove it.
Developed by Toyota Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s official motorsports arm, the Supra Race Car Concept is meant to evoke the heritage of a car that dominated GT racing in Japan—a car that became a legend to a legion of fans. Like the Nissan GT-R, the Supra was born from the bones of a more pedestrian car—in its case, the Celica in 1978. From there it would go on to become its own nameplate for three generations: the A60 (1981), A70 (1986), and the A80 (1993), the car that would cement the Supra legacy. The 90 on the side of the race car concept is a nod to continuing that lineage.
We finally have full confirmation that the new Toyota Supra will be a front-engine, rear drive configuration as confirmed by the race car’s design. But we’re going to have to continue to keep speculating about what engine exactly will power the race car or the street car, as Toyota has provided zero information about what is under the hood. As our European correspondent Georg Kacher has reported, our best guess at this point is that the production Supra will feature BMW-sourced powertrain options it will share with the new Z4, likely a version of Munich’s 2.0-liter turbo inline four in the base car, although its long hood suggests BMW’s present 3.0-liter inline six turbo would also fit, which is rated at 355 horsepower in top spec trim. BMW and Toyota have been jointly developing the road-going Supra and BMW’s new Z4 convertible.
As for the GR Supra Race Car Concept, what we do know is that this car looks ready to take on the 24 Hours Nürburgring race tomorrow, and given that the race is in May of each year, it just might. Gazoo Racing has spent the better part of a decade campaigning at the Ring among other European circuits, and Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda himself has raced there. Either way, it’s good bet we’ll see it on the Green Hell and other tracks across the world at some point soon. The car is also meant to signify Toyota’s intention to use racing to transfer technological learnings at the track to its emerging GR-series street cars. A GR version of the new road-going Supra is a virtual certainty.
Look closer at the GR Supra concept and you’ll see all manner of race-proven gear and a setup designed for hardcore racing. The chassis has been reworked and front and rear suspension lowered for track duty. It’s been fitted with center-lock BBS rims wrapped in Michelin racing rubber, Brembo Racing brakes at all four corners, and a single tube racing exhaust to expel the fumes from its mystery engine.
The cockpit is all business. There’s the requisite roll cage and fire suppression system, and everything is prepped for serious track duty. Toyota is being coy about what series and sanctioning bodies the car would be cleared to race in, but it’s virtually assured that the actual competition version will be FIA compliant.
A full racing dashboard, OMP seat and quick-release steering wheel, and a safety harness have been fitted in the cabin. The wheel is mounted on a racing column and there’s a paddle shift setup for the transmission, the configuration of which is yet another mystery. There is also a three pedal setup in the footwell, which we’re looking to get confirmation about.
Gazoo Racing worked its magic on multiple areas to improve aerodynamics and save weight. The doors are carbon-fiber lined, and the side windows and windscreen are plastic. Composite materials are used throughout the car, including the louvered hood, and front and rear bumper. The significant aero enhancements to the car—side skirts, splitter, boxy diffuser that juts out from the body work, and of course, its massive, super wide rear wing—are all composite as well.
As for its general silhouette, the Supra that we’ll see for the road (likely near the end of this year), the one that we’ve shown you in endless spy photos and illustrations, won’t be nearly as aggressive as the race car, of course. We won’t see the massive fender flares and other adornments, or likely the double bubble roof. But what looks to be coming together quite nicely is a compact sports coupe with a long sloping hood, short rear overhang, heavily raked windscreen, and artfully curved profile.
We do know some baseline dimensions. Toyota says the race car is 180.1 inches long, by 80.6 inches wide, by 48.4 inches high, with a 97.2-inch wheelbase. Its wheelbase is reportedly the same as that of the BMW Z4 Concept, though the rest of the dimensions are skewed by the performance enhancements and not reflective of what the street car will be.
You’ll be able to virtually race the GR Toyota Supra Race Car Concept next month as part of an update to the Gran Turismo Sport video game, and indeed, in part it has been through games like Gran Tursimo that the Supra name has lived on after the A80 ceased production in 2002.
When the GR car hits the track for real, it will have two missions: ably represent the Supra’s lineage, and serve as the latest standard bearer of Toyota’s commitment to motorsports through its efforts at the 24 Hours of LeMans, World Rally Championship, and World Endurance Championship. It’s almost go time for the new Supra—we’re looking forward to seeing how it performs when it’s on the grid and the green flag finally drops.