The Toyota Supra is set to return as a plug-in hybrid sports car using BMW underpinnings, Auto Express can reveal. And our exclusive image shows how the radical styling will be influenced by the FT-1 supercar concept seen at this year’s Detroit Motor Show.
The ‘BMW Supra’ has been born out of a technology-sharing deal announced by the two companies in 2011. At the time they confirmed a number of projects, including hydrogen fuel-cell development, shared battery tech and a joint sports car platform.
It’s understood that the underpinnings for the next-generation BMW Z4 will also form the basis of a new Supra. The new BMW roadster will use lightweight know-how gleaned from the i3 and i8 plug-in range, with extensive use of aluminium and carbon fibre aimed at reducing weight and upping the roadster’s stiffness.
But while the new Z4 is expected to use turbocharged, direct-injection four-cylinder engines and remain rear-wheel drive, Toyota will borrow the same engines and instead use electric power to unlock all-wheel-drive traction.
Above: The Toyota FT-1 concept car
Toyota is thought to be employing drip-down tech from its Le Mans race cars, although unlike the TS040 Hybrid, the ‘new Supra’ will use twin electric motors on the front axle, together with an engine-supplementing e-motor at the rear, rather than purely rear-wheel drive. This will allow a greater degree of regenerative braking, plus the handling benefits of torque vectoring, by instantly shifting drive or retardation between the car’s wheels in hard cornering.
Interestingly, the system will implement Toyota’s first-ever dual-clutch transmission, in place of the slow-witted CVT gearboxes we’re accustomed to in existing Toyota and Lexus hybrids.
By designing the motors in-house, and taking advantage of BMW’s weight-saving methods, Toyota is thought to be targeting a kerbweight of less than 1,400kg. However, it’s expected that the BMW will be the lighter of the two models, on account of its simpler drivetrain.
The cars are expected to debut within a few months of one another, but not until 2017 at the earliest.