The last Toyota Supra went out of production in 2002, and our first story on the potential for its rebirth came in 2007 – a year after CarAdvice was founded – with the idea that the FT-HS concept could become the fifth-generation Supra.
Flash forward to 2019, after almost 100 articles of speculation, revelatory partnership news, spy photos, leaks and a seemingly unending flow of teasers, the journey nears its end with today's unveiling of the new 'A90' 2020 Toyota GR Supra at the Detroit motor show. (The GR is for Gazoo Racing, by the way.)
What a wait it has been. After all, fans of Nissan's GT-R line – often held up, perhaps unfairly, as the Supra's arch nemesis – were made to wait only five years between the fifth and sixth generations of their legendary all-wheel-drive track-eating hero. Indeed, a first glimpse of the new GT-R – sans Skyline badge – was offered in concept form before the previous generation had even ended its run.
(NOTE: the video above is best viewed from about 9 minutes.)
So, while we've yet to see the replacement for the now 12-year-old R35 GT-R, diehards never had to fear that the legendary R34 wouldn't have a successor. But, as Toyota appeared to become more and more comfortable with its image as the automotive world's number-one producer of 'whitegoods', fans began to wonder if the company would ever rediscover the passion for performance it once possessed.
They perhaps didn't reckon on Akio Toyoda, grandson of founder Kiichiro Toyoda, ascending to the company presidency – or perhaps it was simply too hard to believe that, once there, he would have the will and power to remould Toyota into a driver's brand once again.
Has he succeeded? The new TNGA platform that underpins Toyota's newest passenger models is perhaps the surest sign the company once again cares about the emotional aspects of driving… but, then, that's not the thing fans wanted most from Toyoda-san.
“Even though Toyota had no plans to make a new Supra, just like a lot of other diehard Supra fans around the world, I secretly wanted to make it happen,” he says.
“The new GR Supra was born through testing at Nürburgring, and I can honestly say that it is a car that is fun to drive and better than ever.”
First we were given the new 86 in 2011 – just two years after Akio Toyoda was named president – with the promise that it would be just one of three new dedicated sports cars in the Toyota stable. Then, in 2012, Toyota confirmed it had formed a partnership with BMW, widely expected to result in a new Supra.
Many Christmases have passed since that day, but today ends the teaser train.
REVIEW: 2019 TOYOTA SUPRA DRIVEN
Fans have expected since the 2014 Detroit motor show that the California-designed FT-1 concept would inform the look of the new Supra, and it was nearly a year ago that a Japanese magazine published the first accurate images of the final production car, designed by Nobuo Nakamura. (He designed the Aygo, too.)
The design, so far, has proven polarising. What was the goal?
"It's 'function sculpting'," Kevin Hunter of Calty, the Toyota design studio in California that developed the FT-1 concept, tells CarAdvice.com partner Car & Driver. "Carving out surface where you didn't need something lets [us] not only reduce mass but visually reduce the mass.
"If you look at all the ins and outs on this car's front end, we tried to be efficient about where we were putting surface. It's not only beautiful, but it looks efficient as well."
Few of the Supra's styling details can be quickly linked with its predecessor, but, then, each generation of the Supra has been a marked departure from the one before.
Inside, BMW's influence is clearer, with many elements taken from the German company's catalogue, including the familiar iDrive infotainment system common to all BMWs.
Alright, what's driving it?
Officially the 'Toyota GR Supra' – forming part of the newly hyped Gazoo Racing brand – the new Supra is driven by a BMW-derived 3.0-litre straight-six twin-scroll turbocharged petrol engine, producing 250kW of power and 500Nm of torque.
Power from the turbo six is sent to the rear wheels through a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission (we're told a manual is on the cards), and, with Launch Control in play, Toyota claims a 0-100km/h time of 4.3 seconds.
For those playing at home, that's 0.6 seconds quicker than the 250kW/500Nm BMW Z4 M40i to which the new Supra is deeply related.
(UPDATE: It seems BMW has published revised acceleration times for the Z4, now listed at 3.9 seconds for the 0-60mph (97km/h). That's probably around 4.1 or 4.2 seconds for the 0-100km/h sprint. However, the M40i is also tuned to offer 285kW in the US, so Australia's Supra may still be quicker than Australia's Z4.)
Going off the BMW Z4's more detailed specifications revealed so far, the new Supra should consume around 7L/100km on the combined cycle. Toyota, for its part, has yet to confirm a number.
On the optional 19-inch wheels, as shown here, there's Michelin Pilot Super Sports rubber in 255/35R19 up front and 275/35R19 at the rear. Four-piston Brembo brakes are fitted, with 348mm front rotors.
In Australia at least, all versions of the Supra will be equipped with adaptive dampers and an electronically-controlled limited-slip differential.
Suspension is by MacPherson struts up front and a five-link setup at the rear.
Toyota is smartly playing up the progress made in the manufacturing of sports cars since the last Supra, even noting that the new model's structural rigidity is greater than that of the LFA supercar.
It also boasts a centre of gravity lower than the 86, along with 50:50 front/rear weight distribution and a "golden" 1.55:1 ratio between the wheelbase length and track width. (For what it's worth, the last Supra had a weight distribution of 53:47 in turbo form.)
The new Supra measures in at 4381mm long, 1845mm wide and 1292mm tall. The wheelbase is 2468mm, with front and rear tracks of 1595mm and 1590mm respectively.
The all-important kerb weight is listed at 1540kg, around 5kg heavier than the BMW Z4 M40i. That quicker acceleration time, then, would appear to come down to calibration and rubber.
For comparison's sake, the Z4 measures 4324mm long and 1864mm wide, while riding on a 2470mm wheelbase – 100mm shorter than that of the 86, and 110mm shorter than the last Supra.
But, while the last Supra made room for a glorified parcel shelf of a second seating row (and a decent liftback boot space), this one is a more genuine two-seater.
(Oh, and the FT-1 concept? That boasted a 2740mm wheelbase, an overall length of 4675mm and a width of 1970mm.)
Toyota says the new Supra's packaging is all about "Condensed Extreme", which goes as follows: a short wheelbase; large wheels and wide stance; a taut, two-seat cabin; and a long bonnet at the front of a compact body.
Will the Supra drive like the Z4? BMW has told us it won't, and the A90's chief engineer Tetsuya Tada reminded us last year that his own mentor led the development of the A80 Supra. So, while the German and Japanese sports cars will have plenty in common, it seems unlikely the well-loved and respected Tada-san would not make his mark on this new model.
“That’s how we developed this car. Obviously there are common parts between the two models, however the development process as we explained was quite different [to 86 and BRZ]," Tada told us.
"Even if the hardware seems similar, then calibration is quite different, so each engineer from each company would calibrate differently to suit their taste.”
Safety kit will include forward collision warning and auto emergency braking, lane departure warning with steering assist, road sign recognition and auto high beams. Adaptive cruise control will also feature, along with blind-spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and rear-end collision warning.
Details not offered in the Australian press release – and thus still to be confirmed for our market – include a 6.5-inch display in standard form, growing to 8.8 inches in higher-spec trim. Overseas, these are described as "3.0" and "3.0 Premium" grades.
Watch for more on the new Supra to come in the weeks and months ahead.
The new Supra will hit Australia in late 2019, sourced not from Japan but from Graz, Austria, where it will be built by Magna Steyr alongside the new Z4.
Just 300 examples will be available to Australia in the first 12 months. So, Toyota Australia isn't gunning for Mustang sales numbers, but that isn't its goal, apparently.
Price? It's unlikely we'll know before anytime soon, but Toyota has told us that while it won't be cheap, it's aiming for relative affordability.
"Our target is not to make it so high that nobody buys it, that's not our intention. The sweet spot, we are now finding that sweet spot," Vincent Dewaersegger, senior manager of product communication at Toyota Europe, said in September.