2019 Toyota Supra: Tangible Evidence of a Reborn Legend
Why It Matters: It’s hard to remember now, but Toyota wasn’t always a purveyor exclusively of reliable, soulless transportation devices. Although the company today is defined by the appliance-like Camry and the ultra-green Prius, back in the 1970s and ’80s, someone asked to name a Toyota model might very well say, “Celica,” which was sort of a Japanese Ford Mustang. That popular, sporty car reached its zenith as the Celica Supra, before the Supra was later spun off as a separate, high-performance coupe that lasted through 1998 (2002 in Japan). Adding emotional appeal back into the Toyota lineup is a stated goal of Toyota global president and CEO Akio Toyoda, and there’s only so much that can be done with sport-themed trim levels for the Camry and Corolla. To give any credence to the CEO’s goal, Toyota needs a sports car.
Platform: The reality of small sales volumes and not-so-small engineering costs make for tough economics in developing a new sports coupe. That’s why we’ve seen joint ventures pop up: Toyota and Subaru teamed up for the Scion FR-S (now Toyota 86) and Subaru BR-Z, while Mazda spun off a variant of its Miata for Fiat-Chrysler to sell as the Fiat 124 Spider. Similarly, we have Toyota pairing up here with BMW. Toyota will get a new Supra out of the deal, while BMW’s version will replace the Z4, with the new model to take the name Z5. The uptick in BMW nomenclature is indicative of the fact that the Supra/Z5 will be larger than today’s Z4. We believe the car captured in these photos is indeed the Toyota—despite the BMW switchgear—largely because of its proportions and front styling that appears to carry a whiff of the dramatic Toyota FT-1 concept that serves as inspiration for this car.
Competition: Audi TT, BMW Z5, Chevrolet Camaro, Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, Ford Mustang, Porsche 718 Cayman. Basically all relatively affordable performance sports coupes.
Estimated Arrival and Price: Reports indicate that the cars will be assembled on what could be considered the neutral ground of Austria, by Magna Steyr. Production—at an annual rate of 60,000 cars in total—is due to begin sometime in 2018, and we expect the cars to arrive as 2019 models. It’s likely that Toyota will want to keep the starting price of the Supra near the $40,000 mark—which is considerably less than what the old model cost toward the end of its life span—although high-performance variants would drift far upward from there.