When news that the next-generation Toyota Supra would be a joint venture with BMW, Supra fans went into meltdown and took to their keyboards in droves but I say you shouldn’t hate who made the Supra…
Toyota’s flagship performance car is a fine vehicle. It is every millimetre a true sports car; power, handling, pace, looks, design and engineering, more so than, say, a Mustang which is a Bowie knife to the Supra’s scalpel. It is also a very usable daily driver, better than a Alfa Romeo 4C, Toyota 86 or Mazda MX-5. Read our full 2020 Supra A90 review.
And, it does long-distance travel well too in the time-honoured style of a grand tourer. Sure, there are criticisms and disappointments, but fundamentally the all-new Supra is a Good Car and I can well see one on many driveways. It’s the closest thing you can get to a Cayman without a Porsche badge.
But a lot of the talk about the Supra isn’t about its dynamics, engine, practicality on anything else. It’s all about the joint venture, the collaboration between BMW and Toyota. For example: “When one of the largest automakers in the world decides that it needs to outsource the engineering design and manufacturing of the rebirth of one of the companies most loved enthusiast vehicles, it’s probably time to stop building cars, admit that you’re pointless and focus on producing inanimate white goods”.
You get the idea. Now I don’t agree at all with this opinion, and I’m going to tell you why.
First off, car development costs are massive, and steadily increasing. Yet, profit-per-car isn’t going up, so it’s harder and harder to amortise the cost of car development across many models. Indeed, it costs maybe more to develop a new Supra than a new Corolla, and guess which one sells more. Companies are there to make profit and are answerable to shareholders. The fact is, either the Supra had to be a joint development, or there would have been no new Supra at all. So, car enthusiasts, what would you rather – the Supra dies with the A80 and you’re watching Fast and the Furious on repeat, or have the chance to own a 2020 version of it?
Secondly, Toyota didn’t outsource anything. The Supra is not a badge-engineered BMW, and the BMW Z4 is not a badge-engineered Supra. The basic platform is shared, but the body, engine tune, transmission tune, suspension, differential, steering…each are specific to Toyota and BMW. The 86 and BRZ are a lot closer together than the Supra and Z4, yet there wasn’t as much angst about that joint venture. The teams from BMW and Toyota didn’t work together, or drive each other’s cars till after production.
Finally, purity. Yes, there are BMW parts in a Supra. But carmakers have been using parts from each other and third-parties for ages. Drivetrains from Borg-Warner, transmissions from ZF, brakes from Brembo…component sharing has been rife since the early days of the car. I don’t see the issue now.
Toyota is not trying to pass the Supra off as something it isn’t. They’re open about the joint venture, as they should be. The result is a fine motorcar that I believe any enthusiast would enjoy, and I think people should assess the Supra on its considerable merits, not on who built which part of it.
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