Shortly after the GR Supra Racing Concept debuted at the Geneva Motor Show, Toyota brought us to a roundtable to talk to the man behind it, Tetsuya Tada. If Tada-san sounds familiar, it's because he led development of the Toyota 86. And interestingly, he revealed that the 86 and the upcoming Supra have more in common than you might think. At least philosophically.
"When we launched the [GT]86, the fun-to-drive element and the ease of maneuverability was more important to us than quantifiable figures," Tada-san said through an interpreter. "The element that was lacking was, perhaps, the power, and I've heard about a million questions about 'when we will we be launching the turbo version?'"
His answer? "It's not that easy to boost up the engine—if you just increase the horsepower, that creates an unbalanced car, so we have to start from redesigning the platform to accommodate more horsepower.
"So, when we started the Supra project, we kept this lesson in mind, and saw that this car can have more power, while keeping the fun-to-drive element."
So in a twisted sort of way, the Supra will be a response to those who wanted more power from their 86s. But, Tada-san thinks the Supra will be a lot more than just an 86 with more horsepower.
The production Supra will offer a perfect 50-50 front-to-rear weight distribution—the 86, by contrast, carries —and twice the rigidity of the 86. Amazingly, Tada-san promises that the Supra's center of gravity will be even lower than that of the 86, which already had a low center of gravity, thanks to its flat-four engine.
And while we're on the subject of engines, Tada-san wouldn't confirm rumors that the Supra would be offered with an optional inline-four, but it will definitely get an inline-six. Tada-san said he and his team asked Supra fans around the world what they wanted in the MkV, and an overwhelming majority wanted a turbocharged inline-six. Interestingly, Tada-san says these same fans weren't pining for a manual gearbox, and while he wouldn't confirm it, he made it seem unlikely that the MkV would receive one.
Tada-san did, however, reveal that the Supra race-car concept displayed at Geneva is built to LM GTE specs, so there's a very strong possibility a car very similar to this might go racing in the near future. The Supra's debut race will be virtual, though, set for next month in Gran Turismo Sport.
Obviously, there's a lot we still don't know about this car, but the racing concept and Tada-san's words give us a nice preview of what's to come. But until the real-deal makes its debut, we'll just have to race the concept in Gran Turismo.