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Dont dismiss the 2020 Toyota Supra just because of the BMW bits

The 2020 Toyota Supra will put a smile on your face, especially if you can take it to a track day. T..

By admin , in Tech , at March 23, 2020

  • The 2020 Toyota Supra will put a smile on your face, especially if you can take it to a track day. Toyota
  • The car has some F1-inspired design cues, but under the skin it's mostly all BMW, sharing a platform with the Z4—which isn't as good. Toyota
  • The engine cover says Toyota, but the bits are mostly all BMW. Without this partnership, at best a new Supra would share a V6 with other Toyotas, and could a Supra really be a Supra without an inline-6? Toyota
  • You sit far back in the chassis, and you feel that when you drive, with very traditional front-engined, real-wheel-drive handling. Toyota
  • The inside is where its BMW roots really show. Toyota
  • The double bubble roof adds noticeable headroom. Toyota
  • The main instrument display is mainly monochrome and the most Toyota thing in here. Toyota
  • If you've used Toyota Entune recently, you'll know why having a reskinned version of BMW iDrive in here is a good thing. Toyota
  • Yes, that's a BMW shift lever. But you can also find the exact same design in a Chevrolet Bolt or an Alfa Romeo Giulia. I've got no such excuses for the rest of the switchgear. Toyota
  • The reversing light looks like the light you see at the rear of an F1 car. Toyota
  • Toyota showed off the FT1 concept way back in January of 2014. Joe Polimeni for Toyota

Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat: there's more mechanical stuff in the Supra with BMW logos stamped on it than bits originating from Toyota. And that's not a value judgment—it just is.

In the giant, formal ball that is global manufacturing, companies often look for partners that bring components to the table that fit the job description of the future car in question. So, the drivetrain, most of the suspension, the in-car technology—all of this is a made-in-Munich equation. The door plate and even the underhood components like the coil packs atop the spark plugs all state "BMW." Hey, at least give car points for honesty. But the market has been awaiting the new Supra since the FT-1 concept car debuted way back in 2014, so the new Supra has been a long time coming.

Could Toyota have engineered a great follow-up to the vaunted 2JZ inline-6 from Supras past? Of course. Could it have done its own suspension architecture and platform? You bet. But for a very low-volume car, it's a boardroom fight you're assured to lose when partnering with BMW could cover virtually all the product's needs. Whether that's right for the fans and consumers attracted to the new Supra is another thing entirely, but car companies must live and work in the real world where R&D costs for a single platform are in the billions of dollars. Bean counters often make the decisions, and if a new platform and its costs cannot be spread across more than one product line, it's nearly impossible to justify. If Toyota hadn't partnered with BMW on the Supra, this car wouldn't exist at all.

Getting past the BMW origins

The bigger enthusiast question is whether it works as intended. And that answer is certainly yes. Power from the 3.0L, turbocharged inline-6 is no less than 335hp (250kW) and 365lb-ft (495Nm) of torque starting at just 1600rpm. We state "no less than" intentionally here—there are some reports that this engine is far healthier than the 335hp rating would suggest. Plus, Toyota just announced that the 2021 car will have 380hp (283kW). When you know that the BMW Z4 M40i with the same exact engine is already rated at 382hp (285kW) in the United States, well, questions start to arise.

Regardless of precise power level, this inline-6 makes great inline-6 noises at full throttle all the way to redline. In Sport mode, it also adds some overrun popping and burbling from the exhaust on a closed throttle that some will find entertaining. [I find it entertaining—Ed.] It's not, however, way overdone as on some other modern sports cars, like Jaguar's supercharged V8 F-Type.

Mated to the engine is a ZF 8-speed automatic with shift paddles. Toyota claims a 0-60mph figure of 4.1 seconds, and we think that's conservatively stated. It feels quicker. However, no manual transmission is available. It is EPA-rated at a combined 26mpg (9l/100km), with 24mpg (9.8l/100km) in the city and 31mpg (7.6l/100km) on the highway. Expect much less on track, though.

A quick physics lesson explains why the Supra is good to drive

Dynamically, the Supra handles crisply with far better-than-average turn-in, even though the steering's communication lacks information. Chassis highlights include very good ingredients like adaptive dampers, a torque-vectoring rear differential, Brembo front brakes, and Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires on 19-inch forged wheels.

The quality of the road surface comes through loud and clear via the suspension, the seat, and the prodigious tire thrum, but actual steering feel is a touch disappointing. The center of gravity is also remarkably low, but the feeling you get when throwing the car around at the limit is actually very traditional. Here's why.

Sitting as far back in the wheelbase as one does in the Supra, you get a strong sense of polar moment. And polar movement. Since you're driving the car from the back half of its overall length and the axis of the car's rotation—the yaw center—is actually in front of the driver, one feels that car rotation with even more emphasis when oversteering even slightly. (A mid-engine car imparts less of this feeling that you're at the heavy end of the pendulum.)

This experience is akin to that of older, traditional front-engine sports cars of the 1950s, '60s, and into the '70s. This is not a criticism, per se, and not at all bad; in fact, it might even be more entertaining than a mid-engine car that gives equal alarm to understeer and oversteer yaw.

The Supra also feels every bit as heavy as its 3,297lb (1,540kg) curb weight. Tossing it around on a track exposes this densely packed impression. The Supra is certainly fun to drive. It's just a bit different in today's high-performance sports car universe when even the C8 Corvette has gone to a mid-engine layout. (For the record, we used a proper controlled environment for high-speed testing at Apex Motor Club in Arizona.)

Since the Supra defaults to a "Normal" driving mode that relaxes the engine, transmission responses, throttle responses, and damper stiffnessRead More – Source

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