At Toyota all eyes remain on the upcoming Supra â€” a long-departed model returning to the automotive landscape with some help from BMW. The Supra, however, isn’t exactly a sports car for the masses. No more so than the co-developed BMW Z4 is.
Once upon a time, Toyota fielded a slew of fun, compact coupes that tickled performance itches further down the income ladder. It’s something the automaker hasn’t forgotten, as the slow-selling but genuine 86 shows. The automaker wants more of those type of vehicles, apparently, and it could result in the return of another long-lost nameplate.
According to the Supra program’s assistant chief engineer,Â Masayuki Kai, market demand compelled the automaker to get the Supra back into production. Once that 2019 model bows, it’s on to the next project. Well, potentially.
“We want to have Celica back, we want to have the MR2 back,” Kai told Road Track. “The biggest was Supra. Supra was number one, the biggest demand from the market,” he continued. Now that we’ve brought Supra back, what will come next depends on the market needs.”
Kai claims a future Toyota sports coupe might break with the brand’s heritage and appear with an all-new name.
Given the middling demand for the low-priced 86, one wonders if market demand for a coupe positioned between it and the Supra even exists. None of those potential vehicles will boast third-row seating and a raised ground clearance, which seems to be the only things American consumers demand in their lives. Even if demand does exists, making a business case for the vehicle’s development could prove difficult.
“Sports car are becoming more and more expensive to develop,” Kai said. “So a single company cannot afford to invest in all the tooling for parts and components, because the volume of sports car is quite small. A sports car requires a lot of specific components that you cannot share with other cars. The suspension components we’re using on the Supra, you can’t use on a sedan like Camry or Corolla. And as you know, all the homologation issues are also getting more and more complex and difficult.”
The only solution, he claims, would be another partnership, just like the Supra/Z4 and 86 (nee FR-S)/BRZ.
Toyota discontinued the lacklustre seventh-generation Celica and mid-engined MR2, then in its third generation, in the U.S. at the end of the 2005 model year, citing declining sales in a shrinkingÂ market.