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May 05

Supra Confirmed. MR2 a possibility

In 2007, Toyota showed a concept called the FT-HS (seen above) which it expected to put into production. Thanks to the GFC, the car never made it onto the road. Toyota never forgot the car or the direction they planned to go with it though, and it’s spirit lives on within the company. Some say it was the catalyst for the GT86.

Now, the FT-HS will live on, albiet in altered form, as the upcoming Supra successor.

Since the Supra, Celica and MR-2 were culled, Toyota have been without a sports car line. With Lexus’ LFA as a halo car and the GT86 as an everyman’s affordable sports coupe, the company has gone someway towards correcting that.

The new Supra, along with some other, as yet un-named models will fill the gap between those 2 extreme ends of the market.

The on-again, off-again Supra project is now back on the drawing board and will inherit more than a few of the design hints from the FT-HS, especially the edges and sharp angles.

In Japan, there is a group named GRMN, for Gazoo Racing Meister of Nurburgring. The group takes it’s name from Hiromu Naruse, Toyota’s previous head of sports car development and a Nurburgring guru.

GRMN races the Lexus LFA and the Scion FRS at the demanding German track. They also produced a specialist MRS Chassis that was a revolution in terms of mid-engined handling, but was considered too expensive to make for use in a production vehicle.

The converted 4WD MRS was powered by a 3.3-litre V6 from Toyota’s Harrier SUV and mated to Toyota’s well-known THS hybrid system. The coupe was exceptionally quick in a straight line, while its 4WD system delivered phenomenal grip in the corners.

In a meeting of the concept vehicles, the new Supra’s body will look similar to the FT-HS, but will be dropped on to the GRMN chassis.

Unlike Supras past, which were RWD, the new coupe will use GRMN’s 4WD drivetrain. In this state of tune, the system is focused on higher performance, with the rear wheels driven by the engine, while in-wheel electric motors power the fronts.

In a further seperation from Supras past, the new car will abandon the front mounted inline 6 it has used for motivation since the model’s inception. Instead there will be a 3.5L V6 hybrid mounted mid-ship to a CVT taken from the Lexus RX series.

Power and torque predictions are in the order of 360kW and 500Nm, or slightly higher and slightly lower respectively than Nissan’s R35 GT-R. But with a significantly lighter projected weight than that car.

The company’s CEO, Akio Toyoda is a sports car addict and weekend racer who was behind the LFA and put himself directly in charge of the team responsible for the GT86. He has similarly put himself in charge of the new Supra team.

If Toyoda-san has his way, the new Supra will be on showroom floors by late 2015.

Incredibly, sources within Toyota suggest pricing for the new model is expected to be less than $60,000 Australian dollars on the road.

To put that into persepective for the rest of the world, that is less than a Nissan 370Z, BMW 320d or STi WRX and half the price asked for a Porsche Cayman. It’s also 40 grand cheaper than a GT-R.

Sources also tell us that the Hybrid part of the driveline is easily removed. A move which reduces grip and power, but also reduces weight and price. Can anyone say “MR2”?

We’ll keep you posted as we learn more of Toyota’s upcoming sports line.

Michael Adams for Infinite-Garage
Article Originally Produced for World Car Reviews