There were lots of cool cars and cool people in attendance at this year's Goodwood Festival of Speed, but few were more exciting than the new Toyota Supra and its chief engineer, Tetsuya Tada. We've already seen the Supra as a GTE race-car concept before, and we've spoken to Tada, but this was our first opportunity to pick his brain with the real street car in the metal. Here's what we learned.
In person, the Supra is tiny, but with a muscular stance—Tada actually notes that it has a shorter wheelbase than the 86, another car he masterminded. You also notice tons of cool aerodynamic components throughout the car, which here, are covered up with fake plastic vents.
There's a vent just under the headlight, which seems to direct air over the front wheels. Tada says this will be removable in the production car, "in case the user wants to make a racing version." Additionally, there's a vent just above the front wheel on the hood, that Tada says is there to increase downforce. To us, it looks like a smaller version of what you'd see on a Porsche 911 GT3 RS or a Dodge Viper ACR.
On the door, there's an upswept line that flows really smoothly into the rear fender. That's also a vent, one that Tada told us will help with brake cooling, and "maybe downforce too." There's a big diffuser, which is functional. And that double-bubble roof design isn't just a callback to Toyota's first inline-six sports car, the 2000GT; it helps get air to the integrated spoiler mounted on the hatchback trunk lid.
Tada noted that the Supra was designed with GTE racing in mind, as shown by the race-car concept we saw earlier this year, and all these aero devices will help make it competition-ready. You'll also notice that the Supra has a very small frontal area, and a wider rear, just like another car designed with GTE regulations in mind, the Ford GT. Tada wouldn't confirm where the Supra will race, but we wouldn't be surprised to see it in the World Endurance Championship. Possibly even the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as soon as next year.
While aero was our main focus, Tada also shared some other details on the Supra. The tires are being developed by Michelin for the Supra (and its BMW platform-mate, the Z4), and they're 275mm wide at the back and 255mm wide at the front. Wheels are 19 inches all around. Interestingly, the brakes don't use slotted or drilled discs, as so many sports cars do today. Tada says this improves durability, but eventually, Toyota will offer some sort of upgraded brake package with drilled discs.
Tada wouldn't pop the hood, but he assured me that the Supra's BMW-sourced straight-six sits well behind the front axle, giving the car 50-50 weight distribution. And speaking of BMW stuff, we weren't allowed to take pictures of the interior, but from what we could see, there was lots of hardware from the German brand.
Talking to other Toyota personnel at Goodwood, it becomes clear that the Supra won't be a twin of the Z4, though. The Supra will be much more hardcore and track-focused, and Tada added that it'd be "more serious" than the drift-happy 86. And even though it's front-engine, Tada is benchmarking it against the mid-engine Porsche Cayman—he thinks you'll be able to compare the two, in terms of feel.
And, of course, we asked if there'd be a manual transmission. Tada wouldn't say one way or the other, but it doesn't seem like it's happening. But, you can hold out some hope, as , so it's mechanically possible for the Supra to get one at some point. That doesn't seem to be in the plans, though.
There's still a lot to learn about the Supra, and Toyota will tease out more details over the coming months. Regardless, a picture is emerging, and it's one of a very serious sports car. Tada said we need to drive it, and we couldn't agree more.