It wasn’t about convenience or money; it was about doing it the right way

Toyota’s decision to team up with BMW in the development of the Supra was never a popular decision. It wasn’t back when it was announced in 2012, and it still isn’t seven years later with the Supra’s imminent production launch. But Toyota had its reasons, or, more specifically, Tetsuya Tada, the car’s chief engineer, and Toyota’s performance boss, had his reasons. It wasn’t so much about the convenience of working with BMW as it was realizing his vision for the Supra. This is, after all, the same man who was supposed to develop the successor of the MkIV Supra back in the ’90s before those plans were scrapped. But Tada eventually got his chance, and he wasn’t about to throw it away, even if it meant looking elsewhere — hello, BMW — for help in building the sports car he waited almost two decades to bring to life.

There's a Good Reason Why Toyota Teamed up With BMW to Build the 2020 Supra
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A big part of what makes the Toyota Supra a legacy car is the tremendous amount of attachment people have to it.

Fair or unfair, that attachment comes with expectations, and for a model that hasn’t been around for almost two decades, the expectations surrounding the Supra’s return were, to put it mildly, sky-high. This is the reason why, no matter what Toyota did, people would still find reasons to complain about something.

As expected, that’s exactly what happened when the new Toyota Supra finally made its long-awaited debut at the 2019 North American International Show. To be fair, I’m part of the contingent of people who found something to complain about when I first saw the Supra. Skepticism came in many forms; some, myself included, weren’t too fond of how it turned aesthetically. Others lamented the lack of engine options, particularly in the U.S. market. Others questioned where the manual transmission option was. There were those who felt aggrieved at Toyota’s $50,000 asking price. Then there’s the elephant in the room, the one aspect about the new Supra that enthusiasts still can’t fathom to this day.

There's a Good Reason Why Toyota Teamed up With BMW to Build the 2020 Supra
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Why, oh why, did BMW have to get involved in this development?

It’s a tricky question to ask, especially with so many layers attached to this question. But the man who does have the answer isn’t shying away from answering it. More than anyone, Tetsuya Tada, Toyota’s performance boss, and the Supra’s chief engineer, knew what was at stake when it came time to develop the Supra and the involvement BMW had in its development. Still, Tada isn’t about that revisionist history lifestyle. In his mind, the whole process played out as it should because the alternatives would’ve resulted in a completely different car.

There's a Good Reason Why Toyota Teamed up With BMW to Build the 2020 Supra
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According to Tada, the whole goal of the A90 Supra project was to create a sports car that was attainable to a lot of people.

A number of discussions took place within Toyota on how it could accomplish that and part of those discussions ended up with Toyota and BMW forging a partnership to help create the underpinnings for the Supra and the BMW Z4 Roadster, the car that BMW was developing at that time. Despite the fruitful returns of that partnership, Toyota still faced criticism from purists who were seemingly appalled that the Japanese automaker would let another company get in on the development of its legacy sports car. People have even taken to calling the Supra a “BMW parts bin car,” a characterization that Tada understandably disagrees with it because, well, it’s not true.

There's a Good Reason Why Toyota Teamed up With BMW to Build the 2020 Supra
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Toyota’s performance boss says that BMW’s involvement was born out of necessity, in part because it had the equipment Toyota needed for Supra, specifically Bimmer’s roaring 3.0-liter inline-six engine.

Now, Toyota could have developed one on its own, but doing so didn’t make sense because of the costs of building one and the time and resurrect it would take to get the job done. Even if Toyota created a modular inline-six engine from scratch, it would’ve done so knowing that applications for such an engine are no longer as wide-ranging as they would’ve been in the past, especially with the industry already set on hybridization and electrification. Even if that wasn’t a factor, building an engine specifically for the Supra would have taken a lot of time and money, two fundamental resources that Toyota could better allocate on other aspects of the project. It certainly helped, too, that BMW already had an inline-six engine that fit Toyota’s requirements for the Supra.

2020 Toyota Supra drivetrain specifications
Engine 3.0-liter twin-scroll turbo six
Horsepower 335 HP
Torque 365 LB-FT
Transmission 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters
0 to 60 mph 4.1 seconds
Top Speed 155 mph
There's a Good Reason Why Toyota Teamed up With BMW to Build the 2020 Supra
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Tada also dismissed notions that BMW’s fingerprints were all over the development of the Supra. While that is true in some sense, the same can be said for Toyota’s influence in the development of the Z4. Both automakers benefited from one another in the capacities they agreed to, but once it came time to actually design the two cars, Toyota acted independent of BMW, and vice versa.

2019 BMW Z4 drivetrain specifications
BMW Z4 sDrive30i BMW Z4 M40i
Engine type B46 B58
Cylinders 4 6
Valves per cylinder 4 4
Stroke mm 94.6 94.6
Bore mm 82.0 82.0
Displacement cm³ 1,998 2,998
Compression rate :1 10.2 11.0
Engine power 255 HP @ 5,000 - 6,500 RPM 382 Hp @ 5,000 – 6,500 RPM
Engine torque 295 LB-FT @ 1,500-4,400 RPM 369 LB-FT @ 1,600 – 4,500 RPM
0 to 60 mph 5.2 seconds 3.9 seconds
Top speed 155 mph 155 mph
It would’ve been a nice thought to see the new Toyota Supra as a car that was built by Toyota from the ground-up.

The nostalgic in me prefers it that way, too. But there is something to be said for the increased instances of automotive collaborations happening between automakers in the sports car sphere. The market, as it is, doesn’t paint a particularly flattering picture of sports car demand. But automakers still need to put their best foot forward in the segment because it remains home to some of their rabid loyalists. There have to be compromises along the way, though, and the Toyota-BMW partnership is a good example of that. It’s not just these two, either. The Fiat 124 Spider Abarth, for example, shares its underpinnings with the Mazda MX-5. Even the Toyota-Subaru partnership that yielded the 86 and the BRZ came from a similar arrangement. As the automotive landscape continues to evolve, automakers need to evolve, as well, particularly when it comes to the development of models that aren’t included in the hybrid and electrification revolution. That’s why the Toyota-BMW partnership was born. It might not be to our convenience, but it is to theirs.

There's a Good Reason Why Toyota Teamed up With BMW to Build the 2020 Supra
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Besides, would you be willing to pay over $100,000 on a Toyota Supra? That’s the price point Tada estimated for the Supra had Toyota gone solo in its development.

The car’s price may not have been at the crux of Toyota’s development strategy for the Supra, but in the end, who’s to say that it wasn’t an important factor?

So, how about this? How about we stop with the nitpicking on how the Supra came to be? Everyone has his own gripes, but at the end of the day, would you let those grievances get in the way of actually enjoying the Supra because here’s one inescapable truth about the car that nobody can argue against.

The new Toyota Supra is here. It has arrived. How about we enjoy it for what it is, not for what we hoped it would be?

Further Reading

2020 Toyota Supra Exterior
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Read our review of the 2020 Toyota Supra

2020 Toyota Supra Exterior
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How Much BMW DNA Can Be Found In The 2020 Toyota Supra?

2020 Toyota Supra Exterior
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14 Little-Know Facts About The 2020 Toyota Supra A90

There's a Good Reason Why Toyota Teamed up With BMW to Build the 2020 Supra
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The 2020 Toyota Supra Is Surprisingly Small In Person

2019 BMW Z4 Wallpaper quality High Resolution
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Convertible Top Can be Stowed in 10 Seconds

Read our full review on the 2019 BMW Z4.

Source: Jalopnik

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