Toyota has revived the name and spirit of its most celebrated sportscar, confirming that it plans to produce a new generation of the legendary Supra. The carmaker made its long-awaited commitment to reviving the famous nameplate when it unveiled the GR Supra Racing Concept at the Geneva International Motor Show. The ‘GR’ in the name of the concept comes from Toyota GAZOO Racing, the international umbrella organisation for Toyota’s global motorsports program and producer of performance-focused GR-branded cars.

The GR Supra Racing Concept provides a huge visual clue to the fact that it heralds Supra’s return: the large ‘90’ race number on its doors is known to be the project codename for the fifth generation; earlier generations of the Supra were designated A40, A60, A70 and A80, produced between 1978 and 2002.

The diminishing market demand for coupes was one reason Toyota ceased production of the Supra but since becoming President of the company, Akio Toyoda – a racing driver himself who grew up during the ‘golden era’ of Japan’s sportscars – has been bringing back sporty models that are fun to drive again.

The 2-door concept, with its front-engine, rear-wheel-drive configuration, demonstrates the potential for a fun-to-drive car that can deliver high performance both on road and track. The racing concept’s dramatic bodywork makes extensive use of strong but lightweight composite materials for elements such as the wide front and rear bumpers, front splitter and rear diffuser, side skirts, door mirror housings and the large rear wing. The bonnet is made from the same materials and features louvred air inlets. The windscreen and side windows are made of plastic.

The chassis features lowered front and rear suspension using Toyota components. BBS racing wheels with centre-nut attachment are fitted with racing tyres, while the brake system uses Brembo Racing calipers and discs and there is a racing exhaust.

The cabin is entirely competition-focused and is fitted with a racing dashboard and OMP driver’s seat and safety harness. OMP has also supplied the quick-release steering wheel, mounted on a racing column and equipped with a paddle-shift system. The doors are lined with carbon fibre panels and the dashboard includes a racing display.

Competition safety requirements are met by a full roll cage and fire extinguishers, and the fuel and brake lines, pedal box, battery and wiring looms are all designed to competition standard.

The debut of the GR Supra Racing Concept is similar to Toyota’s reveal of the C-HR Racing at the 2016 Geneva show, almost a year ahead of the launch of the production version of the compact SUV. The GR Supra Racing Concept will also be featured in an update of the Gran Turismo Sport videogame and scheduled for release in April 2018.

The Supra badge first appeared in 1978 on a larger and more powerful version of the second generation Celica (above) before becoming established as a successful model in its own right. The front engine, rear-wheel-drive GT sportscar, in its final generation in 2002 (below), was Toyota’s most powerful production model.

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[Chips Yap]

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