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New Toyota Supra variants coming every year

A90 Supra line-up to expand quickly, with Toyota deep in development of 2020 update

3 Sep 2019

TOYOTA Motor Corporation’s chief product specialist for the all-new A90-series Supra, Tetsuya Tada, has confirmed that fans of the reborn sportscar only have to wait less than 12 months until its first revision is revealed, with many more to follow in subsequent years.


Speaking to GoAuto this week at the A90 Supra national media launch at Phillip Island, Victoria, Mr Tada said that all aspects of the sportscar are eligible to be tweaked as part of annual upgrades that will take place across its lifecycle, the first of which will be unveiled around mid-2020.


“Not just the power. Suspension, body, (too),” he said. “Every year we will update. Otherwise, sportscar people just get bored.


“We’ve started already on development for the upgrade next year.”


Mr Tada was quick to add that he did not believe the new Supra had any shortcomings in its current form, which need to be addressed. Instead, the yearly updates will focus on creating different versions of the sportscar for particular purposes.


“The current Supra is a base model, but sportscars should have a different direction, like a track side people maybe want,” he said.


“There’s so many different directions. To respond to every single direction, I would actually like to introduce (something). But, of course, (it costs) more money (to develop).”


Mr Tada clarified that these upgrades will not necessarily need to be developed in conjunction with BMW, which typically gives its models similar updates once during a lifecycle.


“(There are) many ways to do it,” he said. “Maybe we might ask for some support from BMW.”


Asked if that support might come in the form of a different inline six-cylinder engine, such as BMW’s twin-turbocharged S58 unit that motivates the recently launched 375kW/600Nm M Competition versions of the X3 and X4 mid-size SUVs, Mr Tada said that is a possibility, adding that it could fit in the Supra’s engine bay.


His view is at odds with that of BMW M GmbH chairman of the board of management Markus Flasch, who told Australian journalists, including GoAuto, in May that a higher-performing version of the Supra’s Z4 cousin with the S58 unit was not being pursued due to the significant re-engineering that would be required to fit it.


Either way, Mr Tada said the potential introduction of the S58 engine or a manual transmission “will maybe be delayed” until later in the Supra’s lifecycle.


“You can’t do everything at the same time. You have to prioritise,” he said.


When asked why a manual version of the A90 Supra is not available yet, given the mechanically related BMW Z4 is available with a six-speed unit, Mr Tada said it is a case of maintaining demand after three-pedal enthusiasts sample the sportscar’s automatic transmission (AT).


“The biggest reason why we didn’t actually produce a manual is that I would like the customer to firstly feel the new-generation automatic transmission,” he said.


“At the moment, the customer’s saying manual before even trying, but if they drive the AT, then I’d like to talk to them after. The technology, the performance is greater ... and with software updates, it will improve more.


“The higher priority goes to the customer’s demands. If we are still receiving a lot of requests after they try new-generation AT, we’ll think about it.”


Mr Tada used Chevrolet’s Corvette as an example, pointing out that manual variants of its C7 series only accounted for 10 to 15 per cent of sales, with the US brand also deciding to move to an automatic-only line-up for the recently revealed C8 model.


However, an ode to the aero-top A80 Supra is unlikely with the A90, with Mr Tada telling journalists it is “technically” possible – given its twin under the skin, BMW’s Z4, is a soft-top convertible – but not currently planned.


Australian deliveries of the A90 Supra start this month, priced from $84,900 plus on-road costs and motivated by BMW’s B58 single-turbo engine tuned to produce 250kW of power and 500Nm of torque in this application.

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