Granted, information about the joint collaboration between giant Japanese automaker Toyota and iconic European luxury car manufacturer BMW has been strategically leaked to the public in tiny increments since 2012.
Nevertheless, a senior Toyota executive has recently confirmed that a successor to the long lamented Supra has definitely exited the design phase.
It’s in the developmental stages of production and could make an anxiously awaited début during the North American Auto Show, in Detroit in January, or the Geneva Auto Show, in February, ahead of its global release in 2018.
A New Toyota Supra And BMW Z5
In addition to a new Supra, this monumental collaborative effort is reported to produce a new BMW sports coupé, which could be called the Z5.
The Z5 is expected to replace the Z4 model, although the latest reports indicate that it could be delayed somewhat. Fortunately, despite the delays, both BMW and Toyota are expected to deliver innovative new sports coupes by the end of the decade.
The proverbial “cat was let out of the bag” late last year when what was believed to be a heavily camouflaged BMW 2-Series was spotted during testing in Germany. Expert photo examination quickly proved that the obscured test car was hiding a secret. While the covering can hide external aesthetic elements and specific surface characteristics, it can’t conceal overall dimensions when compared with other vehicle test photos.
The test car’s reduced center of gravity, lowered roof line, and shortened wheelbase confirmed that whatever was under the camouflage was sportier, sharper, and more aerodynamic than anything in the current BMW 2-Series lineup.
This information supplied fuel for the fires of the Supra/Z5 rumor mill and started tongues to wagging.
New Toyota Supra Confirmed
Later, during the Geneva Auto Show in March, Toyota confirmed that its product evaluation with BMW had reached completion and the developmental process had begun.
In May, a high ranking BMW official confirmed this statement, announcing that the Germans had begun the research and development phase and the world could soon expect to experience two very new and very different looking sports cars.
Inside sources at Toyota have indicated that information regarding the developmental mule was kept under such close confidence that even he and his counterparts were kept out of the loop. He stated that, since BMW engineers are in control of chassis development for the joint project, all compiled data was kept under lock and key (in Germany), with only a few people at Toyota being privy to the precious details.
Not surprisingly, Toyota engineers began to feel a bit of frustration about being kept in the dark on the latest chassis developments of the two cars. Both companies have announced their pans to divide developmental duties into four categories: electrification technology, fuel-cell technology, joint sports car development, and weight reduction technology.
Of course, it is believed that Toyota will assume responsibility for environmental technologies. Reinforcing this theory, Toyota has shipped off a couple of dozen hybrid technology engineers to work at the BMW headquarters in Munich. Sources report that it took twice as long for Toyota and BMW engineers (working together) to set up which type of hybrid system would be used and where to place the batteries for optimum balance and weight distribution as it normally takes to develop standard hybrid road vehicles.
Dubbed the “Silk Road Project”, this joint production will demand that in addition to chassis development, BMW focus on employing its acclaimed turbocharged 3.0-liter in-line 6-cylinder engine into the vehicle. The 2018 Toyota Supra will be offered with only two engine variants. The first is a hybrid combination of the BMW 3.0-liter turbocharged in-line 6-cylinder engine and Toyota’s lithium-ion battery pack powered plug-in electric propulsion system; this package is good for an impressive 473hp. The second choice is the BMW 3.0-liter twin-turbo. It is capable of producing 335hp on its own, making it much more capable than its Toyota predecessors.
The exterior styling of the new Supra is already locked in and sources say that it is smaller than either the FT-1 concept or the old Supra. Expect a Supra with a compact two-seat cockpit, supercar aesthetics, heavily flared arches, a huge front air dam, and 19-inch wheels. The gross vehicle weight is estimated at 2,866-pounds for the gasoline burner and 3,306-pounds for the hybrid variant.
I can’t wait to see the new Supra when the rubber hits the road.