The new Supra is the opposite of 86/BRZ.
Both Toyota sports cars are the result of joint development projects, but how Subaru worked with Toyota is vastly different to BMW.
It’s fair to assume that Toyota’s strategy to work with BMW in developing the new Supra was simply a continuation of the proven template used with Subaru to create the 86 and BRZ twins.
This was the Japanese giant’s initial plan, but 86 and Supra chief engineer Tetsuya Tada explained to CarsGuide at this week’s Geneva motor show that things turned out quite differently.
“The reason why we decided to jointly develop the 86 and BRZ is because sports cars are extremely difficult in terms of their business model. To make a business case, you require many special parts, a lot of investment, yet it doesn’t sell much (relative to mainstream models).
“When we worked together with Subaru, our common understanding from the very beginning was that it is a given that we will seek out as much common parts as possible.
“The only differences we’ll have between these two models will basically be colours and badges and other than that, we will have as many common parts as possible,” Tada-san said.
The 86 and BRZ do represent one of the most blatant badge engineering efforts in modern motoring, but at their sub-$40k price point, they simply wouldn’t exist otherwise. The balance sheet looks a bit different at the circa-$80k zone the Supra is expected to play in, as with the $100k+ of the BMW Z4 it will share its underpinnings with.
“We expected that BMW would have such common sense as well, to seek out as many common parts as possible, but that was not really the case.”
“Their response at least initially, in the project was that that’s not the way to go. First we need to determine what we want to make, individually as companies. Once that idea is clear, then we need to determine the specification of the different cars.
“If, and only if there are common parts that could be shared, then they could be the common parts (of the cars),” Tada-san added.
So the Supra was always going to be a Supra and the Z4 a Z4, and unable to be confused for each other, with whatever shared componentry beneath the skin.
Tada-san says, “In terms of hardware, even if the hardware seems similar, the calibration is quite different between the two companies, so engineers of each company would calibrate the hardware according to their specific characteristics.”
Therefore the Supra won’t necessarily feel like a BMW to drive and vice versa, which is clearly important for aligning with the two vastly different brand identities.
Following the unveiling of the Toyota GR Supra Racing Concept – our strongest preview of the new model yet – in Geneva this week, we expect to see the final production version within the next 12 months.
Its Australian future is yet to be locked in, but the brand’s local arm has both hands raised.