reporter tries out new Toyota Supra: Romantic side of the auto industry in Madrid

The result of the ancient idea of ​​two passionate lovers of tradition, speed and turns is an exciting, agile, appropriately noisy and somewhat nostalgic purebred sports car.
When seven years ago, the father of Toyota’s GT86 Tatsuya Then suddenly went without saying a word from the Castelloli circuit in Spain, where the car was being dynamically presented, no one knew where the silent head of Toyota’s racing department, Gazoo Racing, had disappeared. A genius engineer who has long considered the fifth generation of the Supra called the first man of the Japanese car giant Akio Toyoda and told him: “Don’t tell anyone anything. Grab the first flight, go to Munich and find out if they are interested in BMW recently for a joint sports car project. “

In a BMW that later it will be clear, Toyota primarily needed because of the six-cylinder in-line engine, they were interested in the proposed project, but neither they nor Toyota at the time had the platform imagined by the nostalgic romance then and Toyoda, as the new Supra it should still be a little different. In an imaginary wheelbase, with a longitudinally mounted engine under the front hood (three-quarters of which would be inside the axles), there was no room for the 2 + 2 seat shape that the previous four generations of Supra had adorned.

Initial problems about the optimal platform quickly fell into oblivion, because after Tad’s secret departure to Munich and a principled agreement with then BMW chief Herbert Diess , unfortunately, it ended up in a drawer. The waiting and uncertainty period lasted almost two years and the light at the end of the tunnel came on after the departure of the sweet-hearted Diess into Volkswagen . In his place in Munich came a true sports car enthusiast Klaus Fröhlich . Things quickly started from a standstill, and in Toyota, after all, they jokingly say that the big car dealership in Wolfsburg has a lot of credit for the creation of the Supra.

Of all the possible and impossible combinations of the platform on which the new Supra and BMW’s next generation Roadster Z4 will emerge, the BMW 2 Series platform was eventually selected, and the essential modification concerned its adequate shortening, as much as that of Tadi and his engineering team needed for the optimum ratio between wheelbase and wheel track. The ratio Toyota came to the goal: Best possible handling of a car with a front and rear-wheel drive engine that is still not a go-kart for two with a race car. Chef Akio Toyoda, formerly the first Toyota test driver to hit the Nürburgring Nordschleife track in Supra in the past, was in a great mood these days.

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What a new Supra GR (Gazoo Racing) we saw on the sunny roads around Madrid, and the final confirmation of the “golden ratio” and top-notch components arrived on the famous Jarama circular track recently honored with a new layer of asphalt.

In a great and quite long itinerary for Jarama, I remembered the words of Tade and Dutchman Herwig Daenens (runner and first test driver on the Supra project) spoken at a press conference the day before: The Supra body is stiffer than the super-sport Lexus LFA, wheelbase and track the wheels come in “golden ratio”, the car has a very low center of gravity, the low mass is divided by axles in a ratio of 50:50, on ultralight 19-inch wheels are Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, there is an active differential …
And the gearbox? “Tomorrow you will have the opportunity to see the speed of ZF’s 8-speed automatic transmission. The manual transmission is not currently available, but this option is not ruled out in combination with eventual Supra for enthusiasts who like to spend their free time on the track. ”

A pronounced short wheelbase (where we seemed to be sitting on the rear axle) combined with high speed and strong crosswinds revealed a benignly twisting side of Supra, but when we got off the highway and headed up the winding mountain roads northwest of Madrid, Supra showed her real face. Looking at the digital number that reads the current speed was really confusing, because it didn’t fit with the bend radius at all. The adequate soundstage of the exhaust system, which, apart from the individual suspension elements and the BMW and Toyota steering system, was developed by everyone for themselves, was the icing on the cake of a car made to … “steering wheel”!

The final confirmation of Supra’s boundless dedication to the bandages arrived by arriving at Yarama, the famous “old school” circular track designed by the man who also designed Suzuku. Instructor Javi showed me in the first round the brake thresholds and the places where just a short foot off the accelerator pedal, and then in the work program “Sport” which offers faster gearbox response, stiffer suspension, more precise steering response … we went full load power. “If I’m not screaming at you, then you’re doing everything right,” the cheerful Spaniard told me.

Without restraint on the public roads, in a fierce “dialogue” with a Japanese legend whose aggressive body lines (with a deliberate odor of the past) signed by Nobuo Nakamura, I was amazed at the manageability of Toyota Gazoo Racing’s first project. in the first third of the turn, but also the calmness during heavy braking before approaching the slow bend Fangio, which is waiting at the end of the fast start-destination direction. you seriously provoke her) a minimal correction is enough with the vertically positioned steering wheel in the direction she is headed. With warmed up tires and the passage of time, getting out to straight sections from a few really interesting turns of the Jarama was faster.and the traces of the crime were discovered by tires, probably brake pads.

After two sessions on the short break between discussing the secrets of car tuning with Daenens, I realized that I was physically exhausted, had to cycle a lot more, and would return to Madrid in the right seat. Yes, the Supra still offers a comfortable and well-equipped cabin for two that can travel very comfortably with a sufficiently discreet exhaust sound that is constantly reminiscent of BMW’s three-cylinder 6-cylinder inline turbo engine, which has 340 horsepower and 500 Nm of maximum torque of torque, enough to accelerate from 0 to 100 in 4.3 seconds and electronically limited at 250 km / h.

“If we were to start developing our own six-cylinder in-line engine, I don’t know if we would be able to realize our idea, as increasingly stringent exhaust emissions and noise levels slowly but surely tighten the noose around cars of this character,” he told us at dinner The night before Tad-san. To lose a car like this !? We are glad that they knocked on the BMW door.

Interested in GR Supra (whose letter S in the name represents two turns of the Wehrseifen section at the Nürburgring with Deanens and a team from GR with Supra have done a lot of test rounds) will have to wait for their copy by next year, because all this year’s production is already sold out. Deserved for Tadin and Toyoda’s dream come true, which I call “Japan über alles” .

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