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Toyota Supra design to stand apart from BMW

Supra hero: Though not yet revealed in production form, the hotly-anticipated fifth-generation Supra was heralded by the Calty Design Research-penned FT-1 concept that was revealed at the 2014 Detroit motor show.

Next Toyota Supra to wear different sheet metal from its BMW Z4 sibling


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14 May 2018

A KEY executive in the styling of Toyota’s reborn Supra has revealed the Japanese car-maker has taken a more differentiated design approach in its latest joint venture with BMW, compared with its partnership with Subaru that birthed the 86/BRZ.
Although not officially confirmed, US-based Calty Design Research studio is rumoured to be penning the styling of the road-going Supra with its credentials including the Supra-previewing FT-1 concept from the 2014 Detroit motor show, as well as the Lexus LC and Toyota C-HR. 
Speaking to GoAuto while in Australia outlining the design process, Calty Design Research president Kevin Hunter highlighted the difficulties in jointly developing a new model with another brand – something Toyota had done before with Subaru for the 86/BRZ, and is currently working through with BMW for the Supra/Z4.
“It depends on the joint venture, for example the Subaru joint venture that you talked about basically shares the same sheet metal overall, the front ends are a little different, there are some tweaks here and there,” he said.
“So that’s a little more challenging because you have Subaru brand DNA, you have Toyota brand DNA, how do we reconcile all that?
“The other project you referred to with BMW is a little different, probably in terms of sheet metal being completely different, so it’s a different proposition.”
Revealed in track-orientated guise at this year’s Geneva motor show, the GR Supra Racing concept previews the showroom-ready sportscar and borrows heavily from the Calty Design Research-penned FT-1 concept.
Expected to be launched in international markets next year, the production Supra is also rumoured to be powered by BMW-sourced turbocharged engines, including an entry-level 2.0-litre four-cylinder variant and top-spec 3.0-litre inline six – the latter in keeping with the engine size and configuration offered in its forbears.
Mr Hunter revealed that certain engineering hard points – such as the front-engine, rear-drive layout – could not be moved, but that the fifth-generation Supra would still be heavily design led.
“It’s always give and take with engineering, but the good thing is that if design can present a good case for why we want to do something, engineering will listen to it,” he said.
“Sometimes it’s a push-pull process and we don’t always agree – we get into some pretty heated debates about things – but in the end, design has to be the vision of where we want to go from an appeal point of view and design can’t do it all, we need engineering teams to come on board to support where we’re going, so it’s always a give and take.”
Meanwhile, Calty Design Research chief designer William Chergosky – who specialises in vehicle interiors – would not be drawn on any details of the upcoming collaboration with BMW, but said that both sides had input into the decision-making process.
“Because it’s a joint venture, there’s no way a side can demand, it’s a partnership,” he said. “So it doesn’t really matter what group you are working with, whether it’s internal or external, and it’s catchball.
“The ultimate goal is to create a product that sells and it justifies this joint venture, so if one side isn’t tractable, you aren’t going to end up with a product that is going to sell and it’s not going to validate it.
“Everyone is in the business of making something that the customer wants, so I found working on 86, the first-gen, it’s a different communication avenue, but it’s not an impossible road to travel.”
Toyota has revealed its future product will move away from the bland design of yesteryear, underpinned by its Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) found in models such as the C-HR, Camry and Corolla.
However, TNGA will not underpin the new Supra as it is understood the platform can only accomodate transverse-mounted engines in front- and all-wheel-drive forms.

Nevertheless, the new Supra flagship sportscar will also have a hand in bringing some spice back to Toyota’s vehicle line-up.

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