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Toyota feels pressure with new Supra
Legendary Supra nameplate brings pressure to succeed for Toyota, sales not a worry
19 Dec 2018
TOYOTA is feeling the weight of expectation that comes with the reintroduction of a famous model as its legendary Supra coupe is set to be revealed in full at the Detroit motor show ahead of an Australian arrival in Q3 2019.
The Supra has not been on sale since it was discontinued in 2002, however a partnership with BMW has given Toyota the opportunity of creating its own sportscar alongside the BMW Z4.
Speaking to GoAuto, Toyota Supra chief engineer Tetsuya Tada said the brand felt pressure to continue the legacy of one of its most beloved models.
“Of course (there is pressure to succeed). With the fifth-generation Supra, the old heritage from the previous generations have to be succeeded with the newest technology,” he said.
“The segment for this Supra is very competitive, there are so many other competitors as you know in this segment.
“So, to compete with that, it has to be so much more fun than its competitors. So, it’s a lot of pressure, and that’s why we have to limit the price as well.”
Toyota is still a way off announcing pricing for the Supra, however Mr Tada said the cost would have to be “acceptable for Toyota fans.”
When asked on how to measure the success of the new Supra, Mr Tada said the company would not look at its sales performance, but rather the reaction it garners from fans of the car.
“The goal for a Toyota sportscar is not to sell a lot, but to really to sell Supra to fans who like cars a lot,” he said.
“So, to index the success of a sportscar is really hard. I think that’s why for many of the car companies, it’s really hard to make a sportscar. If you can sell more it’s good, but it’s not (a priority) for a sportscar.”
Toyota Australia public affairs manager Brodie Bott agreed that sales will not be the measuring stick for the Supra’s success, but the model will help shift the way Toyota is perceived in terms of performance and excitement.
“In terms of sales, I think its job as a halo car is far more important than the sales targets, because to be completely honest with you, the volumes in the first year won’t be big,” he said.
“So, it’s not about getting them out there, it’s about the job it does to build the Toyota brand.
“I think if you look at where the brand’s going – you see it in the new Camry, you see it in the new Corolla, the TNGA, the lower centre of gravity, the performance, the styling – we’re not the company we used to be.”
Mr Bott anticipated the Supra will help create a legion of Toyota enthusiasts in the same vein as the 86 coupe.
“I think you look at what 86 has done for the Toyota brand and all of the enthusiasts it has created, I think it will be the same for the Supra,” he said.
“You’ve got Supra enthusiasts but I think this one is a leap ahead again, you’ll see a lot more enthusiasts and advocates not only for Supra but for the Toyota brand.”
According to Mr Tada, the decision to revive the Supra nameplate after 17 years came from customer feedback, after listening to “voices from all over the world” demanding that the car should be revived.
Mr Bott added that the time was right to reintroduce the Supra given the opportunities the tie-in with BMW presented, particularly with the use of an inline six-cylinder engine, which was found in Supras of old.
“I think if you look back at the partnership that we formed with BMW, the partnership just naturally grew into a sportscar,” he said.
“And I think the fact that we had an inline six through our partnership with BMW, it just made sense that it would be a Supra. I guess it’s just taken the development and all of the bits and pieces that go into it, I think it’s just unfolded that now is the time for it.”
The Supra will be revealed in full next month at the Detroit motor show, and will go on sale in Australia in the third quarter of 2019 with the 3.0-litre inline six under the bonnet.
Toyota is also mulling whether to introduce other engine options.
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