It was 2012 when rumours of a fifth-generation Toyota Supra first started to solidify. Given that Toyota had just completed their collaboration with Subaru on the 86/FR-S and BRZ twins, the idea of a ‘big brother’ with the same spirit of prioritising fun above the ongoing numbers-driven ego-measuring contest made many impatient for the potential 2017 release target.
But here in 2018 we see an exaggeration of the hype train's final stop, as Toyota string out the unveiling of the new Supra even further (hopefully due to extended fine-tuning).
The Gazoo Racing Supra Racing Concept [sic] may distract with its racing livery mimicking Toyota's WRC and LMP1 colour schemes, its GTE-grade aero package and some voluptuous arch flares, but certain elements of the road car nestled inside that motorsport cloak can be discerned – like, for instance, clear evolutions of themes applied to the 2014 FT-1 concept car (as was expected).
The classic front-engined sports car proportions with double-bubble fastback roof, the organically flowing surfaces, the placements of air intakes and vents, even the front and rear lights; they all bear a distinct resemblance to the CALTY-designed ‘Future Toyota 1’.
So how much can we mentally de-racecar this concept to envision the Supra we now expect to see in 2019?
Looking at the trailing edge of the front fenders, a high cut-off to release air from the arch potentially gives away how much narrower a normal Gazoo Supra with road tyres would be, although they could conceivably add a sensible amount of flare back in if deemed necessary by either design or engineering teams.
Up above, the fender vents behind the wheels which chop up the waistline look identical to what the FT-1 sported on its flanks. It could easily be that they’re used to extract air from the front wheel arches to reduce lift – see the vents on a Porsche GT3 RS, a DTM car or anything else track-honed. Expect those to stay – and hope they aren’t fake.
The vast horizontal side skirts and carbon front splitter are pure racing car, so won’t be there on the real thing. Obviously the door mirrors will also be less JGTC and quite a lot larger with it.
At the rear, of course the gigantic protruding air diffuser will disappear, but the rear fascia above it will surely be changed slightly as well. The central exhaust will move downwards once the race diffuser’s out of the way – while it only needs one exhaust pipe, as the car will run a turbocharged BMW straight-six, it could well have symmetrical twin pipes for visual satisfaction, set far apart like the FT-1’s to accentuate width.
Furthermore, the protruding surface that runs from the floor up and squarely over the Racing Concept's tailpipe (this area’s all stickered up in black, unhelpfully) is very likely the outline of the production car's own, more modest, diffuser. Above that, the square rain light will be replaced by a sunken rectangle to house a registration plate.
The rear arch extensions stretch right back to the taillights, terminating in a way that sees them join onto the top edge of those lights. Those outlets will probably still be there, but in a much narrower form that follows the lights’ outline more tightly, aligning with the short vertical outer edge before dropping downwards.
Everything else inboard of the wheel arches ought to remain unchanged, if this is truly a race-modified version of the road car they've designed.
Well, apart from the ten bare-carbon vents and four quick-release pins on the bonnet of course, and the towing eyes, and a conventional fuel filler door in the bodywork replacing the twin round ones that so rudely fail to sit inside the DLO graphic properly (whose idea was that?!).
However, the largest question mark in this game of UnPimp My Ride is perhaps the air intake near the trailing edge of the door.
The FT-1 featured a very pronounced opening ahead of the rear wheel for even more extreme surfacing (and aero channeling), and that was before Vision Gran Turismo race-modified versions appeared.
Could it be something that serves a purpose on the real Supra, as an air channel, or cooling for the rear brakes and differential? Or are the designers simply giving a proud feature one last chance while they can, before it’s filled in and forgotten by the real world? Again, let’s hope it’s not fake...
While the top of the dash might carry over (in more exuberant trim options than glare-proof felt), the race-spec interior is of course a total red herring, unless Toyota’s Gazoo performance brand plans to put out a caged, stripped-bare version with no carpets, an LMP1-like steering wheel and just a couple of slabs of carbon fibre. Now that would be bold.
Toyota were a bit light on details on the new Supra in any guise. The number ‘90’ on the door suggests they will continue the internal code from the previous two Supras (JZA70 and JZA80) like Nissan did with the R35 GT-R. However, rumour has it that it'll be badged as a Gazoo Racing product, rather than a pure Toyota, as they try to strengthen their performance brand.
We do know it sits on a platform developed in collaboration with BMW – hence the 330bhp straight-six engine, which Toyota says won’t be equipped with a manual gearbox – that will probably give us a Z4 replacement as well. Tetsuya Tada also revealed to the media that it will be easier to tune than the GT86 proved to be, which is nice.
While we wait one more year for the real thing, the Racing Concept can be raced and repainted in Gran Turismo Sport, once an update appears next month.
The three kings of ’90s JDM sports cars will soon be fully reinstated.