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Toyota locks in Supra name for Australia

Supra car: Toyota’s FT-1 concept screamed Supra when it was shown at the 2014 Detroit motor show.

After 23 years, Toyota’s Supra nameplate resurrected in trademark application

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Toyota logo11 Aug 2016

By RON HAMMERTON

IT’S official – Toyota has laid the groundwork to resurrect the iconic Supra name for its upcoming fifth-generation sportscar in Australia.

The company’s Japanese head office quietly applied for Australian trademark protection for the moniker in June – the same month it lodged a similar application with the European Union Intellectual Property Office.

While the application is yet to be approved, it seems a no-brainer that the name so strongly associated with the Japanese brand will be rubber stamped.

Although Toyota has not said if the Supra will get a right-hand drive version, the Australian trademark application gives a good hint that it is planning to include the brute in the local line up.

Latest reports suggest the new-generation Supra will hit global highways and byways in 2018 as part of a three-model sportscar range with the mid-sized 86 and an even smaller coupe, most likely based on the S-FR concept shown at the 2015 Tokyo motor show.

Jointly developed with BMW which will use it as the basis for its Z4 successor, the Supra is expected to get a high-performance all-wheel-drive hybrid powertrain to take on the likes of Honda’s new NSX and Nissan’s GT-R.

An Austrian news report suggests both cars will be built in neutral territory at Magna Steyr’s Graz assembly plant in Austria where tooling-up will start next year.

The car has been a pet project of Toyota Motor Corporation president Akio Toyoda who allegedly signed off on it, after completing a computer-generated virtual lap of the Fuji racing circuit in Japan faster in the Supra than his best time in his real Lexus LF-A supercar.

It has been 23 years since the Supra last graced Toyota new-car showrooms in Australia, but absence seems to have made the heart grow fonder, as a legion of “grey market” used Supras from Japan have made it Down Under since then.

Back in 1993, the Supra was sold in coupe and targa-top variants, both powered by a 174kW 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder engine and priced just above $70,000.

A newer model was launched that same year, but with Australia firmly in the grip of the “recession we had to have” and the Australian dollar in the toilet against the Japanese yen, Toyota Australia said thanks but no thanks.

The Supra was finally killed in Japan in 2002, when the name was put out to pasture.

Reports that Toyota was thinking of saddling up another Supra took hold in 2012 when Mr Toyoda and BMW Group chairman Norbert Reithofer signed a memorandum of understanding on joint development of a sportscar, along with increased co-operation on fuel cells and light-weight vehicle design.

When the sexy FT-1 concept appeared on the Toyota stand at the 2014 Detroit motor show, the Supra rumour mill went into overdrive.

That concept – designed at Toyota’s Calty studios in California – was allegedly powered by a conventional petrol engine driving the rear wheels.

However, Toyota executives have hinted more recently that the production Supra will get some form of electrified powertrain driving all four wheels.

European reports suggest the highest-performing version of Supra will get a turbo-charged V6 engine in tandem with electric motors, in a design that sounds similar to the new-gen Honda NSXAs BMW is involved in the project, high levels of carbon fibre might be expected.

A similar Australia IP application was made for the Toyota 86 trademark in 2011 ahead of its launch in 2012.

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