Sit designers from Toyota and BMW down together and what do you get? A swift runaround with panache if few eco-credentials. Charlie Flindt eases himself in
It’s not winning any points with the eco-warriors, but Charlie Flindt finds the Toyota Supra 3.0 Pro to be a mile-eater and a smile-maker.
Does the all-new, high-tech Defender live up to the iconic original? Charlie Flindt finds out, read Land Rover Defender 110S.
TOYOTA SUPRA 3.0 PRO
You’ve got to hand it to Toyota. It’s not too proud sit down with another company (in this case, BMW) and thrash out some collaborative ideas. Such a process usually means that one company is somewhat on its uppers (Alfa Romeo/Nissan, Triumph/Honda), but that’s not a phrase that applies to either of these industrial giants. And the results of these collaborations often fail to set the world on fire (Alfa Romeo Arna and Triumph Acclaim).
The Toyota/BMW project was not even supposed to be primarily about the Supra. They’ve been diligently working away together for ages on ‘green’ fuels of the future, notably hydrogen. It seems they got distracted. I have a vision of a long lunch break, when someone said, “Sod this for a game of soldiers; let’s knock up a real car. You call it the Z4, we’ll revive the old Supra name.” Whatever way it came about, the result is proper old school. Two seats, minimal storage, BMW straight-six, ubiquitous ZF eight-speed box and rear-wheel drive. As simple as that.
While BMW continued the ‘simple’ theme with Z4’s exterior, the Supra bodywork is somewhat less than unobtrusive. There are low, swooping lines, fins, scoops, air intakes… It’s every schoolboy’s sports-car sketch made real.
Once you get in – and that’s not a mission for a 17-stone farmer and his 6ft 5in son to take lightly – the German influence becomes much more obvious in the design and layout of the interior. Apart from a few tweaks, the dashboard is pure BMW. That’s no bad thing, of course, unless you’re part of the worldwide Supra fanatic community, who have already been registering their horror. Apart from the Dan Dare dials, I found it fine.
The view out isn’t ideal. You’re low, there’s an awful lot of rear pillar and the front screen has an aspect ratio way beyond Cinemascope. In the wet autumn, the surprisingly weedy wipers struggled a bit to keep it clear.
Mind you, in wet weather, wiper performance is the last thing on your mind. There’s a mountain of power from the straight-six reaching two very wide rear tyres, and diplomatic right foot is in order. In the dry, it’s a different story and you can tread a bit harder. You’re still up against the eight-speed gearbox, which is too keen to change up. It makes you wonder how we got by with three speeds and an overdrive. Be more demanding and it will eventually let the engine fly. The next worry is your licence; the Supra is swift. You can change driving settings to ‘sport’ if you really want to scare yourself over the potholes as the suspension settings are firmed up – but that’s probably best left to the ‘track day’ enthusiasts.
Eventually – and it does take a few miles after weeks of driving a combine harvester – the Supra is a delight, a fabulously noisy grand tourer, a smile-maker and mile-eater. The greens and the Supra purists might be in unlikely agreement in not liking it – but the rest of us will love it.
TOYOTA SUPRA 3.0 PRO
♦ Engine: 2,998cc
♦ Power: 335bhp
♦ Max speed: 155mph
♦ Performance, 0 to 62: 4.3 seconds
♦ Combined fuel economy: 34.4mpg
♦ Insurance group: 37
♦ Price: £54,340