New Toyota Supra 2018: hybrid power for new sports car

New Toyota Supra front

Senior Toyota sources have given the strongest hint yet that the company’s new Toyota Supra sports car could feature hybrid power.

The new Toyota Supra is likely to sit above the GT86 when it arrives in 2018 and is being developed in conjunction with BMW’s next generation of Z4. The cooperation between the two companies is said to have focused on chassis development, so engine and transmission choices will likely differ and that’s where the possibility of a Toyota petrol/electric hybrid engine comes in.

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When asked if Toyota’s quest to have a hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicle in every market sector would extend to sports cars, Toyota Europe president and CEO Johan van Zyl said: “I would imagine that in the future that will definitely happen.” “We already have some sporting models with hybrid powertrains on the Lexus side. But on the Toyota side, I think we will find that if we can have a World Endurance Championship racing car with hybrid technology, it can happen on a road car.”

He added: “I do not have any doubt whatsoever that in the longer-term future there will be a real Toyota sports model using electrification.”

Toyota Supra 2018 spy shots

The rumour mill has been stirring for years, but Toyota’s new Supra is finally nearing the showrooms. The hybrid sports car has been pictured undergoing testing in disguise with the images giving us a clear view of of its coupe shape. 

An enthusiast’s favourite, the last Supra went out of production in 2002, so the return of the iconic name is big news. Earlier this year we learnt that Toyota and BMW were to partner up and develop an all-new sports car together, which would become both the new Supra and the replacement for the Z4. 

New Toyota Supra rear

It was first believed that the styling of the new Supra would be heavily inspired by the Toyota FT-1 supercar, but these camouflaged spy images show a toned-down design. Still, it looks shorter than the prototypes of the Z4 test cars we’ve seen so far.

A long bonnet features a front bumper jutting out from beneath the headlights, while a sculpted rear-end is clearly evident. This test mule also features a hard-top rather than the Z4’s fabric roof, and it’s believed that the Supra will be strictly offered only as a coupe. 

Earlier in 2016, Toyota made new trademark applications in Europe and the US for the Supra name, casting a fresh spotlight on the project. BMW and Toyota announced their joint venture all the way back in 2011 – declaring hydrogen fuel cells, shared battery tech and a new sports car platform were included in the deal.

While the BMW Z4 and new Supra will take advantage of the shared technology, the Supra will likely be the bigger car of the two. That will allow the Supra to sit above the GT86 model that’s already a key part of the Toyota line-up, and offer much more in terms of performance.

New Toyota Supra side on

Rumours suggest the new Supra will come fitted with a straight-six engine from BMW’s powertrain stable, forgoing the four-cylinder engines of lesser Z4s. Whatever the engine the Supra’s ace card should come in the form of hybrid-electric tech to boost performance. 

It’s likely that the Toyota hybrid tech will have much in common with its Le Mans race cars. The new sports car will use electric motors on the front and rear axle, with a petrol engine driving the rear wheels. Electric power will come from regenerative braking, and will be stored in a lithium ion battery. This will allow both brands to eventually offer plug-in hybrid versions of their new sports cars.

Interestingly, the system will implement Toyota’s first-ever dual-clutch transmission, in place of the CVT gearboxes we’re accustomed to in existing Toyota and Lexus hybrids.

By designing the motors in-house, and taking advantage of BMW’s carbon-fibre reinforce plastic weight-saving methods, Toyota is thought to be targeting a kerbweight of less than 1,400kg. However, it’s expected that the BMW will be the lighter of the two models. Both cars are expected to debut only a few months apart, but expect the Z4 to break cover first at the end of 2017.

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