Toyota’s influence can be found from the ground up

Like death and taxes, Internet comments asserting that the 2020 Toyota Supra isn’t a “real” Toyota seem inevitable. On the surface, the accusation seems justified. After all, the Supra and 2019 BMW Z4 share the same platform, engine, and transmission. Hell, even the switchgear is similar. So where exactly does the BMW end and the Toyota begin?

Well, according to Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada, Toyota’s influence can be found from the ground up. I recently got a chance to climb behind the wheel of the 2020 Toyota Supra during a ride-and-drive event in Virginia, and Tada-san was in attendance to help answer our questions, providing clarification on the nature of Toyota’s partnership with BMW during the A90 Supra’s development.

Building A “Pure” Sports Car

This Is Why You Should Stop Calling the 2020 Toyota Supra a “Rebadged BMW”
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During the pre-drive presentation the morning of the event, Tada-san spoke on how the Supra project came to be. He seemed eager to shed some light on what drove the fifth-gen Supra’s development.

With the help of a translator, Tada-san began by talking about how Toyota initially approached the A90 Supra project. At the outset, Toyota wanted to work with BMW for its line of six-cylinder engines, rekindling a relationship that started with an effort to build a series of diesel engines.

However, despite Toyota’s admission that a BMW six-cylinder was sought for the new Supra, the rest of the package was very much a collaborative effort between the two automakers.
This Is Why You Should Stop Calling the 2020 Toyota Supra a “Rebadged BMW”
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“Tada-san is very well aware of, let’s say, on the Internet right now a lot of people are just saying ‘Oh [Toyota] just put a shell on top of an available BMW platform, and it’s not like that. If you take a look at the previous Z4 specs, you’ll notice that the new specs are completely different, so it’s been re-thought from the ground up.”

From the word go, Toyota’s intent was to create a focused performance car. “[The new Supra] is world class, the shortest wheelbase, widest track production sports car, so [Tada-san] is very proud of it.”

The ratio between the wheelbase and track width on the A90 Supra is meant to mimic that of a racing kart, which, as you can imagine, offers some truly amazing handling benefits. This is where Toyota’s influence starts.
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Later at dinner, Tada-san was able to elaborate a bit further. After getting to go-ahead from Toyota headquarters to develop a new sports car with BMW, Tada-san first had to pin down the nature of the relationship between BMW and Toyota.

“We talked about all kinds of things. It was very difficult for both teams to see eye-to-eye on a lot of issues because the development process was completely different for both companies. They tried many times, but there wasn’t any specific progress that was made, and for us at Toyota, we were intent on making a pure sports car.”

Exterior Dimension Comparison

Measurement 2020 Toyota Supra 2019 BMW Z4 M40i (difference)
Wheelbase 97.2 inches 97.2 inches (identical)
Overall Length 172.5 inches 170.7 inches (- 1.8 inches)
Overall Height 50.9 inches 51.4 inches (+ 0.5 inches)
Overall Width 73 inches 73.4 inches (+ 0.4 inches)
Overall Width (including mirrors) N/A 79.7 inches
Track Width (front) 62.8 inches 62.8 inches (identical)
Track Width (rear) 62.6 inches 62.6 inches (identical)

This desire to create a “pure sports car” was the chief motivator behind the new Supra’s development, and Toyota’s ambition wouldn’t be satisfied by any existing BMW product. When BMW and Toyota launched their new partnership, the new 2 Series and 4 Series had just been released, and Tada-san thought that both were not as exciting as they could be, especially given BMW’s sports car history.

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“They told [Tada-san], ‘What’s the purpose of making a hardcore sports car?’ That came up constantly in conversation.”

“Even when you talk to BMW staff, they will say, under their tone, ‘We’ve never built a pure sports car before.’ ‘What are you talking about? You have lots of M cars, lots of performance cars.’ They said, ‘No, no, no, for us, those are highly modified passenger cars in our view. As far as we’re concerned, we’ve only had the M1. And there’s been a lot of time in our hearts since the M1. And so you at Toyota, you’re talking about pure sports, maybe we should use you guys as a trigger and create a good convertible sports car and a coupe sports car project.”

BMW and Toyota decided to set their crosshairs on the Porsche Boxster and the Porsche Cayman, with BMW taking on the former with the Z4, and Toyota taking on the latter with the Supra.

This Is Why You Should Stop Calling the 2020 Toyota Supra a “Rebadged BMW”
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With that in mind, BMW admitted that the previous Z4 platform just wouldn’t cut it.

As such, Toyota convinced BMW to collaborate on something entirely new. Both teams worked together to create the Supra/Z4’s underlying platform, with Toyota bringing a greater focus on performance to the project.

“And so we all got together and we really discussed the current wheelbase, and the dimensions, and the center of gravity, and that outline was a really collaborative effort on both sides.”

Once the basic package was determined between BMW and Toyota, the two teams split entirely. For years, there was no communication between the two development teams.

This Is Why You Should Stop Calling the 2020 Toyota Supra a “Rebadged BMW”
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“[Tada-san] purely and honestly and earnestly just worked on Supra, and [Tada-san] was able to have that leeway with the company, and the tuning and the setting of the Supra, engine and transmission, body solidity, and vehicle weight distribution, suspension… all the tuning, all the setting was given to [our chief test driver Herwig Daenens], and he was the one that really gave it the flavor.”

Toyota spent five years developing the Supra, working with the goal of creating a “pure sports car” every step of the way. By comparison, BMW sought to build a sports roadster. While the two might share the same platform, calling the Supra “just a rebadged Z4” is far from accurate.

This Is Why You Should Stop Calling the 2020 Toyota Supra a “Rebadged BMW”
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By our approximation the underlying platform is a 50/50 split between Toyota and BMW.

The engine is mostly BMW, but Toyota also a hand in making sure the B58 was up to standards in terms of durability and reliability.

The transmission is from ZF, and can be found just about everywhere in the industry, including in the Alfa Romeo Giulia, Aston Martin DB11, Jaguar F-Type, and Lamborghini Urus.

Performance And Drivetrain Specs

2020 Toyota Supra 2019 BMW Z4 M40i 2019 BMW Z4 sDrive30i
Engine turbo 3.0-liter six-cylinder turbo 3.0-liter six-cylinder turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Transmission eight-speed automatic eight-speed automatic eight-speed automatic
Horsepower 335 hp 382 hp 255 hp
Torque 365 lb-ft 369 lb-ft 295 lb-ft
0-60 mph 4.1 seconds 3.9 seconds 5.2 seconds
Top Speed 155 mph 155 mph 155 mph
Weight (lb) Per Horsepower 10.14 9.01 12.89

The electronic differential is from BMW, as is the suspension design, but the tuning for both is 100 percent Toyota.

This Is Why You Should Stop Calling the 2020 Toyota Supra a “Rebadged BMW”
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What’s more, regardless of who built what, all this ignores how the Supra actually feels to drive. And in the end, isn’t that what matters most?

Further Reading

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

2019 BMW Z4 Wallpaper quality High Resolution
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0-to-60 mph in 4.6 seconds

Read our full review on the 2019 BMW Z4.

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

This Is Why You Should Stop Calling the 2020 Toyota Supra a “Rebadged BMW”
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The 2020 Toyota Supra Is Surprisingly Small In Person

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