After two years of waiting for, writing about, and anticipating the return of the beloved Supra, to find out that it will be built in conjunction with BMW, instead of totally by Toyota, felt like a mule kick below the belt. I cannot lie, I had visions of an affordable Japanese-built supercar that could be had with a pulse-quickening supercharged 5.7-liter TRD V8, six-speed automatic with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, limited slip rear differential, and “big-boy” Brembo brakes capable of hauling everything in on a dime. In hindsight, I should have known better. When something seems too good to be true — it most likely is — and living in the greatest country on earth requires some sacrifice; a big one is abiding by federal emission standards for imported production automobiles.
So, let’s talk BMW-Toyota; who have announced that they are moving forward with the joint development of a sports car (a pair of sports cars, actually) expected to debut in 2016 or 2017, with production beginning shortly thereafter. The good news is: While both cars will share the same rear-wheel (optional four-wheel drive) drive platform, they will not share any body panels. Both cars will benefit from the BMW group’s extensive prologue into weight-reducing carbon-fiber technology and innovative vehicle balance points used in development of the BMW i3 and BMW i8. The BMW Z5, expected to replace the current Z4 model, is expected to arrive as a convertible with a retractable hard top and the Supra should (at least initially) be offered only as a coupe.
Enough of that; if we are not getting the big V8, then exactly what is expected to make these things go? It seems to be an “either-or” situation with a hybrid powertrain on one end or a conventional inline-six-cylinder engine on the other. Toyota takes the lead in the hybrid variant. It will be equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine and two-electric-motors (three-electric-motors for the all-wheel drive) that combine for a varying total of either 190,245, or 270-horsepower, depending upon trim level. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is the speculated mate for the hybrid propulsion. On the other end; BMW offers their turbocharged and direct fuel injected 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder. It is capable of producing 425-horsepower while yielding somewhat efficient fuel usage.
This is not the first collaboration between these two automakers. Since 2012 Toyota and BMW have been involved in the joint research of fuel cell technology, weight reduction technology, and the further development of lithium-ion batteries.
Perhaps as a side-effect from its relationship with BMW, the price tag for the new Supra is expected to exceed $135,000. That is pretty stiff for a supercar that makes only 425-horsepower. I believe that Toyota could have built the Supra with more bang for the buck id they had kept it “in-house.”