It was at the 2014 Detroit auto show that we first laid eyes on the Toyota FT-1 concept, a future vision of the car we’re seeing here in the same city five years later: the MkV 2020 Toyota Supra. It’s been 21 years since the last-generation A80 Supra was sold in the U.S., and it was far from assured that the nameplate would ever return. But Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda is an enthusiast, a driver, and a man who believes Toyota needs cars with emotion. He also loves the Supra, which he made abundantly clear at the Detroit show press conference where he unveiled the car, dropping hilarious one liners like: “It’s not just fun to drive—it’s totally lit!” What better badge to carry that flag than the Supra, which after what seems like an eternity is finally set to hit the streets by mid-2019 with pricing starting hair over 50 grand?
Developing the new Supra was far from easy, and as it had when it produced the 86 in concert with Subaru, Toyota decided it needed someone to share the burden that comes with building a low-volume sports car. It found a willing dance partner in BMW. Back in 2011, the German automaker and Toyota went to work on the cars that would become the new Z4 and the Supra. We’ve already seen the Z4 and driven it on roads and on a racetrack in Portugal. And we’ve already driven a prototype version of the Supra in Spain that graced the January 2019 cover of Automobile. So far, both cars are shaking out very well.
But there were still plenty of details about the 2020 Supra we didn’t yet know until now, like these: 335 horsepower and 365 lb-ft of torque from a BMW-sourced, twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six. It was of paramount importance given its heritage that the Supra come with an inline-six, and BMW had the goods Toyota needed. The engine employs direct injection, continuously variable timing, and a variable intake-valve lift system. After evaluating the preproduction Supra on the track, senior editor Nelson Ireson said it felt like there were far more than 335 horses on tap, likely due to the early onset of torque and the Supra’s relatively svelte claimed curb weight of 3,397 pounds.
Bolted on to the engine is an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Sorry folks, we’re hearing there’s no manual in the offing, but Toyota promises it will be “quick-shifting.” The car itself is also going to be to be quick off the line. Thanks to its short initial gear ratios and a launch-control feature, Toyota says the Supra will clock a zero-to-60-mph time of 4.1 seconds on its way to a top speed of 155 mph.
Toyota’s in-house Gazoo Racing performance arm has had a lot to do with how the rear-drive Supra will handle its business out on your favorite stretch of squiggly road, and there’s a lot to like about how the car is set up. First off, it boasts a 50:50 weight distribution for optimum balance. A low center of gravity and overall structural rigidity were also given significant focus.
Up front, the A-arms of the 2020 Supra’s double-joint strut front suspension are constructed of aluminum, as is much of the five-link rear setup. Versus the BMW, the subframes and mounting points have been reinforced and the springs and shocks were specifically tuned by Gazoo Racing engineers in an effort to lend the car a different dynamic feel than the Z4.
Adding to the chassis setup is an adaptive variable suspension system that adjusts damping force on the fly depending on road conditions and how the driver is wheeling the car, and there’s an active rear differential with an electric motor and multi-plate clutches at work. It’s all about keeping lateral torque in line and delivering a neutral handling experience. The active diff controls torque distribution between the rear wheels and can variably lock to deliver between zero and 100 percent of torque to each of them. It will also meter the rear torque distribution when you’re braking hard into corners and powering out of them.
Both the variable suspension and the active differential can be further loosened or tightened by choosing between two modes—Normal and Sport—that also modulate the Supra’s throttle response, steering weight, transmission shift points, and exhaust note.
It all rolls on 19-inch forged aluminum wheels and sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber, with the rears being a bit wider (255/35R-19 front, 275/35R-19 rear). Turning the front wheels is a variable-assist and variable-ratio electric power-steering system specifically tuned for the Supra. Whoa-ing things down are large discs all around, highlighted by front 13.7-inch rotors squeezed by four-piston Brembo calipers.
Inside the cabin is where the BMW/Toyota joint venture really stands out, and that may end up being somewhat of a disappointment to fans of past Supras that were all Toyota. If you’ve been in a modern-era BMW, you’ll feel right at home in the Supra, right down to BMW’s infotainment screen (6.5 or 8.8 inches depending on trim), center stack treatment, and balky shift knob and iDrive control knob. The points of differentiation, such as the leather-wrapped steering wheel and the seats, don’t have any specific Supra branding, either.
That said, the seats look impressively sporty with integrated head restraints and come wrapped in leather or Alcantara microsuede depending on the trim level. There’s also a high-definition, single-meter-design color instrument panel that projects a three-dimensional graphics package. It consolidates information including the tach and shift-timing indicator and places multimedia data on the right. There’s also an available head-up display.
Speaking of trim levels, the Supra will be available in 3.0 and 3.0 Premium spec, and the early adopters will no doubt fight over the 1,500 Launch Edition models slated for the U.S., which add a few goodies to the Premium edition. Launch editions will come in Absolute Zero White, Nocturnal Black, or Renaissance Red 2.0 exterior colors, and each will feature high-contrast red mirror caps and matte-black wheels. The white and black Supra Launch Editions will get a red interior with carbon-fiber accents, while the Renaissance Red 2.0 Supra gets a black leather-trimmed interior. The Launch cars will also feature a numbered carbon-fiber badge on the dash, plus a carbon-fiber graphic of Akio Toyoda’s signature on the passenger side.
Standard feature highlights include dual-zone automatic climate control, auto-dimming rearview mirrors, rain-sensing windshield wipers, power folding mirrors, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning with steering assist, and automatic high beams. An optional Driver Assist package includes adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear collision warning. The 3.0 Premium grade gets the 8.8-inch touchscreen display with navigation, what Toyota calls its Supra Connect telematics services, wireless Apple CarPlay, a 12-speaker JBL audio system, and wireless phone charging.
While the interior is likely to prove controversial, the 2020 Toyota Supra is in a class of its own when it comes to exterior style. Based in part on that FT-1 concept developed by Toyota’s Calty design center in California, the new Supra’s designers drew inspiration from the four generations of the car’s heritage as well as the famed 2000 GT. The goal was to create a vehicle that evokes 50-plus years of Toyota performance history, and the results are impressive. Key elements include a double-bubble roof panel, wildly flowing rear fenders, and a prominent central grille section flanked by large air intakes that nods to the A80 Supra. Out back, highlights include an integrated spoiler, a trapezoidal rear bumper shape, and single tailpipes at each end integrated into the rear diffuser.
Lighting is provided via a six-lens LED design that integrates daytime running lamps and turn-signal functions, and the taillamps combine turn, tail, and stop lights into their main ring shape, with LED reverse lamps located in the center of the lower bumper. As far as colors go, the Supra’s primary hue is Renaissance Red 2.0. Nitro Yellow, Downshift Blue, and Phantom Matte Gray will also eventually be available to add to the Launch Edition palette.
So, what’s all this going to set you back? The base 3.0 model will start at $50,920, with the 3.0 Premium starting at $54,920. Launch editions come in at $56,180. The primary option package is the Driver Assist bundle for $1,195, and base 3.0 models can get the upgraded navigation and stereo for $2,460. Oh, and if you want the first production Supra, you can bid on it at the upcoming Barrett-Jackson auction with the proceeds going to charity. It will be a special Launch Edition model featuring Phantom Matte Gray paint, the red mirror caps, a red interior, and matte-black wheels. Number 1 of 1,500, it will have VIN 20201 and also come with an engine cover with Akio Toyoda’s (real) personal signature that can be framed or installed on the car.
One of the key questions Ireson brought up in his Supra prototype drive is one of legacy. Will the Supra legions forgive the BMW connection? That remains to be seen. But as far as his overall impressions, he was plenty emphatic: “The Supra is back, and it’s shaping up to be great.” We’re betting that will be enough to win over many of the old-schoolers and a new generation of fans alike.
2020 Toyota Supra Specifications
|ON SALE||Summer 2019|
|ENGINE/MOTOR||3.0L DOHC 24-valve I-6; 335 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 365 lb-ft @ 1,520 rpm (est)|
|LAYOUT||2-door, 2-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe|
|EPA MILEAGE||21/30 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||172.5 x 73.0 x 50.9 in (est)|
|0-60 MPH||4.1 sec|
|TOP SPEED||155 mph|