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THE TOYOTA GR SUPRA – THE LEGEND RETURNS

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  • The fifth generation of Toyota’s legendary sports car
  • The first global GR model from Toyota Gazoo Racing
  • Conceived as a sports car in its purest form, with no compromise
  • 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder, turbocharged engine
  • A chassis designed for optimum balance and performance
  • Active differential, Adaptive Variable Suspension and sports braking system
  • Single engine, Two-grade line-up
  • Toyota Safety Sense

The all-new Toyota GR Supra is the fifth generation of Toyota’s legendary sports car and the first global GR model from Toyota Gazoo Racing.

The new Toyota GR Supra has been conceived as a sports car in its purest form, with no compromise that might diminish the pleasure of the driving experience. Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada has adhered to the classic form of a front-mounted, straight-six engine driving the rear wheels, building on the heritage of Toyota’s past Supra generations and original 2000GT sports car.

Driving enthusiasts can expect an exhilarating blend of power, agility and precision handling, delivered by the car’s combination of a short wheelbase and wide track, low centre of gravity as well as a lightweight and highly rigid body.

The 3.0-litre engine is fitted with a single twin-scroll turbocharger and produces 250 kW and 500 Nm of torque. Coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission, it is characterised by smooth and powerful acceleration, with large amounts of torque available across the full spectrum of engine speeds.

Toyota Gazoo Racing was instrumental in honing the new sports car’s performance, working extensively on the famous Nürburgring Nordschleife and surrounding roads in Germany to achieve the most agile, stable and rewarding handling possible. Further extensive testing was carried out on roads around the world.

To be certain that the car delivered on its promise, Toyota President Akio Toyoda put it to the test at the Nürburgring in his role as a Master Driver before giving it the final green light.  

The Toyota GR Supra: a first for Toyota Gazoo Racing

The Toyota GR Supra is the first GR model to be produced by Toyota Gazoo Racing for the global market. Toyota Gazoo Racing is the umbrella organisation for Toyota’s global motorsports programme and in the past year it has achieved top-level success in winning the Le Mans 24 Hours in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the Manufacturers’ Championship in the FIA World Rally Championship and the 2019 Dakar rally.

Its work is based on three pillars: developing people through participation in motorsport; creating fans through the excitement of motorsport; and applying the knowledge gained from motorsport to make ever-better, fun-to-drive cars for the road.

This ethos was fully embraced by Kiichiro Toyoda, the founder of Toyota’s car-making business, and is shared today by Akio Toyoda, to support the company’s commitment to make ever-better cars.

Starting with the Toyota GR Supra, Toyota Gazoo Racing will transfer the technical learnings it gains from the racetrack and rally stage to the development of new generations of Toyota’s sports-focused GR models and also its wider range of vehicles, driven by tens of millions of people around the world.

FROM CONCEPT TO REALITY: TADA-SAN’s STORY

Tetsuya Tada, Chief Engineer of the Toyota GR Supra, gives his personal insight into the project and what he aimed to achieve with the new car:

The Supra legacy

Being asked to make a sports car that offers the ultimate, pure driving pleasure felt like a mandate from heaven, telling me to “make a Supra!” The GT86 helped broaden the scope and appeal of Toyota’s sports cars. Next, I needed to deliver a car that offers a seemingly limitless sense of control, a car that will meet expectations and delight even hardcore fans.

In making Supra, I insisted on visiting enthusiasts’ clubs around the world to talk to owners of previous models. I asked them what they thought the minimum requirements should be and the response was always “a straight-six turbo and front engine/rear-wheel drive configuration”. It was pretty clear and I had more or less anticipated this. The key point was to keep that combination intact.

The new Supra is not simply a revival, though; only those core engine and rear-wheel drive elements have been carried over. As the name Supra suggests, I was determined to deliver a “supreme fun-to-drive” car that could only be made in the modern era.

Ultimate driving pleasure

I repeatedly told the development team that I wanted them to hone any aspects of the car that stimulate the driver’s senses or instincts. I said that it wasn’t necessary to achieve perfect scores for every aspect, we just need to make sure the car is fun to drive. Anything that goes against that can be disregarded.

It was a key factor to make the car a two-seater. Driving quality is 90 per cent dictated by a car’s basic packaging – the track and wheelbase are particularly important. In fact, it’s the golden ratio (~1.5) between these two dimensions that delivers the best driving quality, and I was determined not to sacrifice this. But the only way to achieve the golden ratio was to make Supra a two-seater. Even though I was warned not providing four seats would reduce the number of cars we might sell, I politely but firmly stood my ground. For me, it was all about delivering a pure sports car with the ultimate driving pleasure.

The front engine/rear-wheel drive package

With the new Supra we did everything that could be done with front engine/rear-wheel drive packaging. For example, the speed through a slalom course is about 20 per cent faster than our original target time. And it’s not just a fast car, it’s exhilarating.

The antithesis of simple transportation

The auto industry is said to be undergoing a “once-in-a-hundred-years” revolution. Technological innovations such as EV (electric power), autonomous driving and Artificial Intelligence are turning the car into a high-tech “mode of transport”. With that being the case, cars might no longer need to be fun to drive. But I am not sure we should just accept the impact this is having on the role of the car. In that sense, Supra might be the antithesis of society’s current car-related trends.

Of course, an EV can also be developed as a sports car, and we already have racing categories such as Formula E. Electric motors may in fact offer faster acceleration than petrol engines, but that’s just a matter of specifications. Surely acceleration won’t be exhilarating if you disregard the feeling and resonance with the driver’s senses.

When it comes to feeling, I can confidently declare that the acceleration from the Supra’s straight-six turbo feels truly exhilarating. I am sure people who have never known, or have forgotten about the pleasure of driving a car, will enjoy an amazing experience and realise that cars really should be fun to drive.

CONCEPT AND EXTERIOR DESIGN

Even at first glance, it’s clear to see how Toyota’s sports car heritage is referenced in the design of the Toyota GR Supra. The influence of the landmark 2000GT is particularly evidenced in the long bonnet, compact body and double-bubble roof, while the distinctive look of the fourth generation Supra is captured in both the front and rear styling – notably in the muscular rear wings and the arc of the integrated spoiler.

The resemblance is more than skin-deep, though, as the Toyota GR Supra has the same classic sports car format of a powerful, front-mounted six-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive as its celebrated predecessors.

The Toyota GR Supra’s design theme was first previewed in the dramatic FT-1 concept car, styled at Toyota’s CALTY studio in California and revealed in 2014 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Toyota GR Supra Chief Designer Nobuo Nakamura gave his team a simple brief, purposely avoiding any emotive words so that they were free to express their vision of a pure and individual sports car in a truly original design.

“With Chief Engineer Tada pursuing driving pleasure, I knew that my mission was to create a design that would be visually and physically exciting to sports car fans,” he said. “By using a straight-six front engine/rear-wheel drive layout – something rarely seen in cars today – I was able to reach something beyond Toyota’s boundaries.”

The key words Nakamura-san used to guide his team were “Condensed Extreme”. This refers directly to the vehicle’s packaging, comprising three principal elements:

1. A short wheelbase, large wheels and a wide stance

2. A taut, two-seat cabin

3. A long bonnet with a compact body, reflecting the drivetrain combination of in-line six-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive.

Nakamura envisioned a car that is indisputably modern in design, yet evokes the romance of classic sports car styling. The result approached the limits of what can be manufactured in higher volume, in particular with the powerful curves of the rear wings.

In the finished design, the ‘Condensed’ theme is evident in the relationship between the Toyota GR Supra’s large-diameter tyres, short wheelbase and overall length. It’s notable that the wheelbase is in fact shorter than in the GT86 coupe and that the tyres are larger. ‘Extreme’ is interpreted in the car’s wide stance, with snug cabin proportions and a broad tread, contributing to a high level of manoeuvrability and stability.

The design was optimal for achieving both the best drag and lift characteristics and an ideal front/rear weight balance. For example, the double-bubble roof is not simply a heritage-inspired feature, it is effective in reducing drag by reducing the car’s frontal area, without sacrificing headroom in the cabin.

The frontal design was inspired by the fourth-generation Supra, but has an even more expressive look with a low stance emphasised by a prominent central grille flanked by large air intakes. Again, these intakes are not simple design cues, but are essential for engine cooling. The distinctive headlight units draw inspiration from the Mk4 Supra (JZA080) shape and feature a six-lens LED arrangement that incorporate both the turn indicators and daytime running lights (DRL). The dramatic turn signal and DRL light guides extend toward the centre of the nose – adding visual flair.

In side view, the low bonnet generates a dynamic line that flows rearwards from the car’s low nose, while the back edge of the bonnet and the rear spoiler are set almost at the same height, linked by a low belt line. The underbody has a slight forward angle, while the cabin has a strong rearward slant. Blacked-out A-pillars and character lines on the side of the roof emphasise the taut, compact cabin. Sharp-looking, robust sills express the car’s high rigidity.

The GR Supra is fitted with lightweight but highly-rigid 19-inch forged alloy wheels with alternating black and polished slim spokes. At the rear, the integrated arching spoiler (inspired by the Mk4 Supra wing) has been optimised to suppress lift, while the bumper’s trapezoid shape generates a sense of movement down and out towards the tyres.

The combination lights have a simple internal ring arrangement, while the distinctive F1-inspired fog lights and reverse lights are formed by dot-LEDs grouped in the centre of the lower bumper.

The Toyota GR Supra’s evocative styling is shown to its best effect with a choice of eight different paintwork colours, including Prominent Red, Striking Yellow, Luminous Black and Grand Blue Metallic alongside White, Prime Silver Ice Grey Metallic. A new Toyota-first Matte Storm Grey is additionally available in limited numbers. This unique hue adds extra visual drama and metal-like texture to the car’s curved surfaces with a matte finish and a hint of blue.

INTERIOR DESIGN

Driver-orientated cockpit

The driver’s cockpit in the new Toyota GR Supra neatly combines sports car elements with ultra-modern functionality. Designed to help the driver focus entirely on the business of driving, it is directly influenced by the layout found in single-seater race cars. The low, slim horizontal dashboard maximises the forward view through the windscreen, helping the driver place the car with precision in high-speed driving, while the principal controls are tightly grouped for quick and easy operation. The instrument panel, centre console and door trim are combined in a seamless design that gives the cockpit a strong, unified feel.

The line of the cockpit flows down into soft, supportive knee pads in the door trim and on the side of the centre console, their shape defined with the benefit of Toyota Gazoo Racing’s circuit racing experience.

The head-up display, meters and paddle shifts all sit directly in front of the driver, with additional switches located on the three-spoke steering wheel. The wheel itself is contoured for excellent grip and is wrapped in leather. The 8.8-inch high-definition driver’s instrument display is clearly visible through the steering wheel, with the 3D-effect tachometer and shift indicator positioned in the centre; a digital speed read-out to the left; and infotainment and navigation information to the right.

An asymmetric centre console marks a clear division between the enveloping driver’s cockpit and the more open passenger side of the cabin. Knee pads are provided for the passenger, too. The air conditioning control panel sits proud of the console with memory-touch switches for easy operation; an 8.8-inch central multimedia display is mounted above the console, operated using either a touchscreen or a rotary controller.

The boot space is large enough for two people’s luggage and includes a side stowage net and floor-mounted hooks.

Racing-inspired seats

The new Toyota GR Supra’s seats have a racing-influenced design that ensures comfort at all times and excellent support, in particular if the car is being used on-track. Body-holding side bolsters are featured on the cushion and high back, and there is an integrated head restraint. The upholstery specified for South African models comprises a combination of leather bolsters with a perforated Alcantara covering for the seat back and cushion – that provides a degree of air ventilation and additional body-holding performance. Customers have the choice between Black or combination Red and Black interior trim.

POWERTRAIN AND PERFORMANCE

The performance heart of the new Toyota GR Supra is its 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine, producing 250kW and 500Nm of torque. It is fitted with a single twin-scroll turbocharger, high-precision direct fuel injection and continuously variable valve control that secure segment-leading torque performance from very low revs. The unit is powerful, well-balanced, smooth and free-revving, with an exhilarating acceleration feel and minimal vibration.

It makes use of a motor-actuated variable valve-timing system that gives precise control of the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves, in line with the driving conditions and driver’s inputs. The result is linear delivery of high torque at all engine speeds and high output at high rpm. Intake valve lift is controlled according to the driving situation, reducing pumping losses and realising high output.

The engine uses direct injection with a 35MPa high-pressure system that provides excellent spray atomisation and precise injection control for high combustion efficiency. The design of the twin-scroll turbocharger divides the path from the exhaust manifold to the turbine into two parts. This suppresses exhaust gas interference between the cylinders, allowing the turbine to operate from lower engine rpm and giving direct response to the driver’s use of the accelerator.

The engine is matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission that provides lightning-fast up and downshifts, with short ratios used for the lower gears. The driver can take control of gear changes using paddle shifts on the steering wheel; they can also select Normal or Sport driving modes to suit their preference and the conditions. Sport mode is further user customisable to allow drivers to tune the suspension, steering and transmission characteristics to their preference. 

A Launch Control function enables powerful acceleration from standstill with maximum traction, helping the car move from rest to 100 km/h in just 4.3 seconds. Engine sound and response, shift pattern, damping, steering and active differential performance are adjusted when the driver selects Sport mode. The Vehicle Stability Control has a special, selectable “track” setting that reduces the level of system intervention, giving the driver greater control of the vehicle’s dynamic performance.

Active differential

An active differential has been specified for the local market, which operates both when accelerating and decelerating and can seamlessly adjust from zero to full, 100 per cent lock, with instant response.

A dedicated ECU monitors a wide range of inputs, including steering wheel, throttle and brake pressure, engine and wheel speed and yaw rate, for appropriate triggering of the actuator. The torque difference between the left and right wheels is controlled flexibly and seamlessly depending on the driving situation.

This delivers huge benefits in stability and efficiency when the tyres are reaching their performance limit. The effect is felt in all phases of cornering, with increased stability during the braking and cornering, and then maximum grip as the driver accelerates out of the bend. Operation is adjusted when Sport mode is selected, to give more efficient cornering in high-speed driving, for example when using the GR Supra on a circuit.

Chassis designed for optimum balance

A car’s wheelbase and track dimensions are the first thing to consider when starting the design process with a clean sheet of paper. Where the Toyota GR Supra is concerned, these were defined in order to prioritise the car’s agility and handling. The key calculation is the ratio between the wheelbase length and the track.

It is widely recognised that the best balance of agility and stability is obtained with a ratio of between 1.5 and 1.6; achieving the 1.55 “golden ratio” was thus the starting point for the Toyota GR Supra development team, the key building block on which everything else has been optimised. (For reference: wheelbase = 2,470mm; rear track = 1,589mm).

Intensive handling development programme

High targets were set for the handling performance and these were achieved in a development programme led by Toyota Gazoo Racing that included extensive testing on a wide variety of challenging roads worldwide. The on-road testing was complemented by sessions on race tracks, including the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

High structural rigidity (greater even than the Lexus LFA supercar), a centre of gravity lower than the GT86 coupe and ideal 50:50 front/rear weight distribution were fundamental to achieving the car’s dynamic goals, but they required bold engineering decisions. For example, the desired weight balance was gained by moving the engine as far as possible rearwards, which itself introduced new production challenges.

The high body rigidity allowed for more precise and detailed refinements to the suspension geometry and tuning of the shock absorbers. The suspension design comprises double-joint spring MacPherson struts at the front and a five-link system at the rear. The front suspension subframe and control-arm mounting points have been made extremely rigid to yield precise cornering characteristics, while the use of aluminium for the control arms and swivel bearings reduces the car’s unsprung weight, giving superior agility and efficiency. The new GR Supra also features high-performance wheel hubs with an increased camber and optimised kinematics.

The rear suspension benefits from a similarly lightweight design for the rigid subframe and the bracing that connects it to the body, helping ensure extremely precise wheel control. The 19-inch forged alloy wheels are fitted with high-grip Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres. These are slightly wider at the rear than the front (255/35R19 vs 275/35R19).

The Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) enhances performance with instant response to changes in the road surface, adjusting the shock-absorber force at each wheel to maintain a flat vehicle posture, excellent steering response and supple ride comfort. Sensors constantly monitor the way the car is being driven and the road conditions, controlling the damping force accordingly.

The driver can choose between two AVS modes – NORMAL and SPORT – to suit their mood or the driving conditions. NORMAL mode strikes a high balance between vehicle stability and ride comfort, enabling a sporty drive without sacrificing comfort. SPORT mode delivers a flat vehicle posture, reduced body roll and a more agile steering response.

The electric power steering is rack-assisted and sports-tuned. Its characteristics are automatically adjusted in accordance with vehicle speed, reducing the level of effort needed at lower speeds and gradually weighting up to offer greater control and stability at higher speeds. When driving in SPORT mode, steering effort is increased, in line with the changes to the chassis and powertrain.

The system features a steering rack with the motor and reduction gear mounted separately. This gives greater flexibility for the engine mounting system and also contributes to the lowering of the Toyota GR Supra’s centre of gravity.

A sports braking system is fitted as standard with red aluminium Brembo calipers – opposed four-piston at the front and floating single-piston at the rear. The ventilated discs measure 348 x 36mm at the front and 345 x 24mm at the rear. The parking brake is electric.

The brakes are equipped with standby, drying and anti-fade functions: the drying function applies the brakes at pre-determined intervals when the car’s windscreen wipers are operating to dry the discs; fade prevention automatically increases brake pressure when the discs become hot.

A full suite of active safety system include; ABS, Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, and Hill-start Assist Control together with Active Cornering Assist, which creates additional yaw movements by independent braking intervention to improve agility and line-tracing.

ONE ENGINE, TWO GRADES

The GR Supra model line-up consists of two models, the GR Supra Track and GR Supra. The Track model is aimed at enthusiasts wishing to use their vehicle predominantly for performance-orientated driving and prioritises vehicle dynamics over convenience specification.

The ‘normal’ GR Supra adds a raft of comfort and convenience specification – to truly offer an all-encompassing package.

SPECIFICATION AND CONNECTIVITY

At the entry point to the new model range, the GR Supra Track benefits from a high specification level that extends to high-performance features and systems to help the driver enjoy the car’s full dynamic potential. These include an active differential and 19-inch forged alloy wheels with a high-performance Brembo brake package.

The Track grade includes dual-zone automatic air conditioning, smart entry with push-button start, leather-trimmed steering wheel with thumb-mounted switches and a digital instrument cluster. LED technology is used for the adaptive headlights, rear lights and daytime running lights, and the mirrors (door mirrors and rear-view mirror) are all auto-dimming. Further convenience is provided by rain-sensing wipers and a rear-view camera.

The infotainment specifications feature a 10-speaker audio system with 6.5-inch display with Bluetooth and USB port.

The GR Supra model receives an upgrade to 8.8-inch infotainment system with built-in satellite navigation and 12-speaker JBL audio system with mid-mounted subwoofers for superb acoustics. The sports seats are upholstered in a combination of leather and Alcantara (Track model features fabric seats) and are power-adjustable (including lumbar support), with integrated heating and memory functions.

Wireless charging, Tyre Pressure Monitoring, Park Distance Control (PDC) and Heads-Up Display (HUD) add to the convenience spec tally. The Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) forms part of the higher-grade feature list.

Another key differentiator between the Track and ‘normal’ GR Supra models is the Toyota Safety Sense system (covered below) – the Track grade foregoes this system in lieu of weight savings and purposed driving environments.

SAFETY SENSE

As mentioned the GR Supra is fitted with a very comprehensive Toyota Safety Sense system which encompasses a wide array of active safety technologies.

These include a Pre-Collision System with a pedestrian detection function and the ability to recognise cyclists during daytime driving; Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with steering assist; Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Automatic High Beam (AHB); Adaptive Front-light System (AFS), which adjusts the headlight illumination in line with the car’s steering angle; and Road Sign Assist.

In addition, the car is also equipped with a Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Rear-end Collision Alert, and Intelligent parking sensors with automatic braking to help prevent collisions with objects or vehicles approaching from either side when reversing out of a parking space or driveway.

MODEL LINE-UP & PRICING

Toyota GR Supra Track*                   – R 953 000

Toyota GR Supra (Prominent Red)   – R 1 072 300

Toyota GR Supra (Metallic)               – R 1 082 300

Toyota GR Supra (Matte Grey)         – R 1 092 300

*Available in Prominent Red paintwork only

WARRANTY & MAINTENANCE

A 4-services/80 000km service plan is provided as well as a 3-year/100 000km Warranty. Customers can also purchase extended service plans via their Toyota dealer. 

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