HERO WORSHIP - Toyota GR Supra

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HERO WORSHIP - Toyota GR Supra

The new Supra shares the same, basic platform as the new BMW Z4, but the two new cars have little else in common.

Not only is the all-new Supra the most talked about upcoming sports car, but it is also probably the most eagerly awaited vehicle of 2019. The truth is, Supra fans around the world have been divided when it comes to the A90. And with that, let’s take a closer look to see just how special this new Supra is.

The new Supra – now called the Toyota GR Supra - draws heavy inspiration from the 2014 FT-1 Concept car, and while it looks little like its predecessor, the new Supra is aiming to chart a new path for itself, and the future of Toyota design. Much has been made of its co-development with BMW, and while it shares its platform, powertrain and some switchgear, this sports coupe is very much a Toyota.

While they may share the same, basic platform, it turns out the two new cars have little else in common. It is now common knowledge that early on in an unusually long, seven-year development process, the Toyota and BMW development teams parted ways, barely even talking to one another since then. Tetsuya Toda, the head of the Supra project, recently proclaimed that he has spent only minutes behind the wheel of the BMW Z4.

The fact that Toyota brought back the Supra nameplate, after 17 years certainly deserves an applause. And much like its predecessors, thankfully, it shares the same classic sports car format of a powerful front-mounted six-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive.

The Supra – much like the BMW Z4 – uses the highly-rated BMW B58 powertrain. Despite being designed and built by BMW, this engine has been tuned specifically for use in the Supra, and is said to behave very differently to the motor in the Z4. In fact, the twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0-litre inline-six produces 250kw and 500nm in the Supra, while it makes 285kw and 500nm in the Z4.

Together with the 3.0-litre engine, Japanese variants of the GR Supra will be offered with a choice of two 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engines. The entry-level SZ variant will produce 145kw and 320nm, while the SZ-R mid-model outputs 190kw and 400nm. The RZ sits up top and produces 250kw and 500nm. All JDM models are being offered exclusively with an eight-speed transmission.

In fact at launch, the Supra will be available only with an eight-speed automatic transmission. But there is talk of a manual eventually being made available to South Africa. Toyota estimates this new Supra will sprint to 100kph in just 4.3 seconds, thanks to launch control; while maximum speed is electronically limited to just 250kph. This puts its straight-line performance on par with rivals from BMW and Porsche. Aside from having a lower centre of gravity than the GT86 Coupe, the GR Supra boasts a higher structural rigidity than that of the Lexus LFA supercar.

The wheelbase on the Supra places it between cars like the Porsche 911 and Jaguar F-Type, but because of its short overhangs, it is far more compact, with the Japanese sports coupe boasting a perfect 50:50 weight distribution. Toyota, together with their performance partner Gazoo Racing, developed the Supra's chassis components from the ground up, testing it extensively on the Nurburgring and other proving grounds around the world. This way, the Supra development team believe they have created a coupe that is the most agile, stable and rewarding in its class.

At the rear is a five-link rear setup, but up front, there's a unique double-joint spring MacPherson strut setup. All versions of the Supra will come standard with an active differential and adaptive variable suspension that will have two settings: Normal and Sport. This differential operates both when accelerating and decelerating and can adjust from zero to full, 100 per cent locked virtually instantly. A dedicated ECU monitors a wide range of inputs, including steering wheel, throttle and brake pedal operation, engine speed and yaw rate, for appropriate triggering of the actuator.

Speaking of handling, one fun fact that has come to light in recent weeks is the revelation that the ‘S’ in Supra is actually a rendition of Wehrseifen, a section of the Nordschleife which is a bit twisty, like an S. In fact, it should also be noted that Toyota President Akio Toyoda, personally tested the Supra on the Nürburgring and other racing venues to give his personal feedback to ensure this new model would exceed the expectations of Supra fans across the globe.

Like the car itself, the GR Supra's paint palette is not for the cautious. Daring hues like Renaissance Red 2.0, Nitro Yellow and Downshift Blue heighten the emotional connection drivers feel with the car while drawing admiring eyes. The available Phantom Matte Grey adds a sense of drama with a blue to create a metal-like texture. Tungsten Silver, Turbulence Grey, Absolute Zero White and Nocturnal Black are especially vivid, modern versions of those classic shades. The latter might have some wondering if Lord Vader himself is behind the wheel.

While Toyota has yet to reveal pricing for the new Supra, it is rumoured that the Supra will be priced just above the BMW Z4 M40i, which is priced from R1 036 699. The Supra is also expected to be the ‘in car’ for this years’ SEMA show in Las Vegas, with international tuners working hard to get their bespoke designs ready for the international spectacle in October.

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