We’ve always been a fan of the Supra TT and always keep our eyes open for clean ones. And we’ve driven them at full speed at Texas World Speedway, once attaining almost 170 MPH on the main straight. We love them, Toyota did a fabulous job engineering them, and with the most minor preparation they make a great track car. And as many of our readers know, they are nearly indestructible.
At the Cobb Tuning First Thursday event in Austin, Texas on May 3, 2012, we ran into what we consider to be the perfect Supra TT. Perfect because it was immaculately clean, perfect because we lust after it, and perfect because it was exactly how we would have done it. If we had been smart enough to get one originally.
Single turbo, sheet metal intake, 6-speed manual. 1200 horsepower. Well integrated rollcage. Intelligently built, and in immaculate condition. And we understand that the owner also has an older model Nissan GT-R. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Do you want to get picky? We’d do three more things. First, we’d replace the hood with a vented hood and make sure it is more secure. We know that the stock hood starts to flutter over 170 and up. Second, we’d put a barrier around the air cleaner, since we don’t need it sucking in hot air from the engine compartment. And third, we’d probably replace the stock Supra brakes (4/2 piston fr/rr) with 6/4 piston fr/rr Brembos. For track use, and with 1200 HP, this car needs all the braking ability it can get.
And that’s it.
The latest here on DrivingEnthusiast: a new gallery of 96 high-res images of the Toyota FT-HS Concept from 2007!
FT means “Future Technology” and HS stands for “Hybrid Synergy”. The FT-HS is a concept of a 370Z-sized gas/electric hybrid.
Our new gallery has everything from action shots set on public roads:
to images of the wild interior:
to evolutionary concept drawings straight from the design studios:
The FT-HS is a pure concept, not built on a production car or prototype platform. As a concept, certain shapes and features are wildly speculative and impractical. Nonetheless, the concept was intended as one possible interpretation of what a future Supra might look like, and especially how it would be powered. The FT-HS is powered by a gas/electric hybrid, with a 3.5 liter DOHC V-6 coupled to an electric hybrid drive (similar to the design used by Lexus on it’s high end models) yielding 400 horsepower total.
Unusual and innovative features abound, from an impractical sliding/drop roof:
to an interior driver-centric design concept labelled ”Solo Space ”:
AutoWeek believed that it would go into production in the summer of 2009… but of course the economy and other issues at Toyota got in the way. As well as issues around the battery technology. Because of these issues, Toyota will start at the lower end of the market, with the FT-86 concept, which has been approved for production. And, while the FT-86 concept has often been referred to as the prototype for a new Celica, it appears that it will be sold as a Scion instead (a move that has not at all been well received from potential buyers – in fact this writer believes it to be an unbelievably bad decision given the rich and long history of the Celica brand). We also know that Toyota has been working with a hybrid MR-2/MR-S type of car, and from spy shots of that prototype, it would appear to be a near-term production candidate as well.
So if we do see a new Supra, and if it is based on the FT-HS concept, given the more immediate issues at Toyota it would probably be 4-5 years out. But we know that the appreciation of performance cars is alive and well in Akio Toyoda, and that creativity at Toyota is certainly not dead, as evidenced by the FT-HS and FT-86. We want to see Toyota get thru the quality questions, then use ecologically-responsible performance cars to revitalize the image of Toyota.
Akio Toyoda, CEO of Toyota, has strongly hinted at an all-new Supra in a recent interview: http://www.autocar.co.uk/News/NewsArticle/AllCars/251326/
While nothing else is known, Toyota has already shown a concept of the type of car he is speaking about.
This concept car, the FT-HS, first shown 4 years ago, is a 370Z-sized car with a 3.5 liter V-6 and electric assist, yielding 400 HP. It was styled with the design language of the time. That language has since been updated, and has most recently been seen in the FT-86 concept.
Interestingly, Nissan is in position to do something very similar. An electric G35 sedan, which uses similar technology, was first shown 2 years ago and it’s thought that a 3.5 liter V-6 with electric assist is coming for the G37 sedan in the next two years. 400 HP had been discussed from this too. Since the Z is built on the common FM platform used by the Infiniti, an easy fit would be assured.
Given Toyota’s current troubles, an image car would be a great help to draw new buyers into worldwide showrooms. And one that showcases new technology would be even better. Nonetheless, Akio Toyoda has placed engineering quality at the top of the list and that means that a new Supra, if there is to be one at all, would probably be at least 3 years off. Or even further out given the recent 1 year delay of the FT-86.
We first speculated about what this car would be like in May 2007: http://www.drivingenthusiast.net/sec-blog/?p=2155
The 4th gen Supra is of course one of our all-time favorite cars. It was a showcase for Toyota engineering when it came out, featuring a twin turbo 3 liter inline DOHC 6 cylinder engine and Getrag 6-speed manual transmission.
This was a complicated engine, but was engineered extremely well. It was known as a “detuned 500 HP engine”, and may very well have been.
It also featured a state of the art coilover suspension, with lightweight aluminum components.
And a driver-centric interior, with everything close at hand.
This was the Japanese supercar of it’s age, and even better was a platform that could be easily – and reliably – modified to well over 500 horsepower with very little effort. Soon after it’s release, 600 HP became the new tuner target – and was exceeded. Then it was 800, and then 1000 horsepower.
Efforts like this came into reach: 241 MPH in the Texas Mile:
The 4th-gen Supra will be a difficult car to better. It was a car for it’s age. The new Supra, if there is one, will be a car that will address the goals and aspirations of today’s age. The combination of a flexible V-6 engine and electric assist will produce a car with uncommon torque and drivability. State-of-the-art Lithium-Ion batteries will be the main frature this time, and enthusiasts will have to learn a new technology before successful tuning can take place. The only question is: are we up to it?
Resources on DrivingEnthusiast.net:
- Supra blog archive: http://www.drivingenthusiast.net/sec-blog/?cat=682
- Supra blog RSS feed: http://www.drivingenthusiast.net/sec-blog/?feed=rss2&cat=682
- Toyota FS-HS Concept: http://www.drivingenthusiast.net/sec-toyota-lexus/concepts/FT-HS/index.htm
- Supra section: http://www.drivingenthusiast.net/sec-toyota-lexus/supra/index.htm
Toyota announced this week that litium-ion battery production would begin in 2009, and that 2 brand new hybrids (all-new cars, additions to the line) would be announced next year in addition to the on top of the already announced next-gen Prius. One of the 2 is a Lexus, the other a Toyota.
You’ll remember that in August of 2007, AutoWeek reviewed it’s understanding of Toyota’s plans for the next few years and said that production of the next-gen Supra, based on the FT-HS hybrid sports car concept from the 2007 Detroit show, would go into production in the summer of 2009.
While nothing in the way of prototypes has been spotted yet, and while it’s not confirmed that the car will be named Supra (but the statements of several Toyota Executives confirm that a response to the 350Z is very desirable), production of a new generation of high-energy batteries would be a key and necessary step in the production of a sporting hybrid.
The concept is shown below, it is roughly 350Z-sized and is powered by a combination of a hybrid powertrain and a 3.5 liter V-6. The net yield is 400 HP.
Jumping the gun (since there isn’t anything announced), but a nicely done personal site with a good compendium of speculation images to date. No blog or RSS feeds at this early point…
Also reference: the incomparable 4th gen Supra site: http://www.mkiv.com/
There is a lot of discussion on various websites and in magazines worldwide about what might be a new Supra, thought to be announced at the Tokyo Auto Show this year. Enthusiasts are eagerly awaiting – or hoping – for a new Supra.
Note that it’s only discussion – other than the concept car shown to the right there has been zero official word from Toyota – and zero spy photos of running prototypes (which there should be by now if production is indeed planned).
So take all of these reports from all of these sites for exactly what it is: speculation.
So lets have some fun and speculate.
SPECULATION MODE: ON
Toyota has taken a very brave step. This is a car that will be the same size as the current 350Z, and aimed at the same market. There will be a base engine of 3.5 liters that will directly compete with the 2009 370Z. That makes sense, and this would fill one of the holes in the traditional sporting Toyota (MR2, Celica, Supra) lineup.
The brave step is the optional hybridengine – where Toyota is using technology to increase total available power rather than just build a car dedicated solely to fuel economy. The output of 400 HP is plenty for what will be a fairly small car. More importantly, it’s the torque curve and drivability of that engine that would be of interest to enthusiasts. There will be lots of power and torque across the board, delivered nearly instantaneously. 0-60 MPH times will be fabulous.
Why do I like this idea? First, the bravado of Toyota in bringing it to market. But second the strategy: performance enthusiasts don’t like hybrid cars currently because none of them have been built forenthusiasts. The current crop of hybrids is largely (and necessarily) econo-boxes or small SUVs – many with unusual or downright weird styling in our eyes. And all of them easily out-performed by otherwise equivalent but conventionally-powered vehicles.
The market is absolutely moving towards hybrid or alternative powerplants. We all need to accept that fact. Toyota’s forward-looking vision tells us that driving enthusiasts have something to look forward to – that performance is not dead under any circumstances and can indeed be improved. And that we can reduce our dependency on unreliable middle eastern countries and still have our fun.
This could be an autocross car: imagine the instantaneous torque of electric assist. The car would be well-balanced because a ground-up design could optimize the weight of the battery packs in the back and the electric motor in the front. Yes, it will be heavier than the base V-6 car, but the trade-off will be significantly increased performance.
This could be a track car: imagine seamless, smooth, and linear flow of power across a wide range of RPM, available for long blasts down the straight and at any point in a turn. Couple that with balance and it’d be a good car for events for people who want to drive their daily driver to the event and then back home again.
Everything that we know about suspensions and driving dynamics applies equally here as it does anywhere else. Optimizing springs, bushing, swaybars, damping, and tires applies just as much here as it does anywhere else. Likely – speculation again – the car uses the same double A-arm suspension and multi-link rear as does the IS series. That is a very well designed chassis that would make an excellent basis for the Supra (it’s also an evolutionary offspring of the last Supra!).
Very possibly first true hybrid sports car wil be the start of something great. There will be issues with it, things not entirely mature, and it will be a bit heavy for it’s mission (but still less than a V-8). All that will optimize as evolution proceeds and probably picks up the pace. But it’s very clearly the future, very clearly a brave move, and the only question now is which of we enthusiasts will be brave enough to buy one?
SPECULATION MODE: OFF
Road & Track has the full story on the FT-HS concept car in the February 2007 issue. Of course this raises the big question – what is the relationship of this to any kind of production car?
The enthusiast web is full of speculation that this is somehow a Supra replacement… even with the hybrid engine. Of course, everybody wants a new Supra. But we want solid evidence… not further speculation such as the last two years of outright guesses in Road and Tracks annual future prediction issues.
I think we need to get real here. This is clearly a concept. It has angles which cannot be punched out in sheetmetal. It has an engine and drivetrain which are a logical next step from the existing production GS450H. Nothing remotely like it has been spotted testing in Japan, or at the Nurburgring (unlike the upcoming Lexus 2-seat sports car – under test at the ring for the past two years) and the IS-500 (oops, IS-F) which has been shown testing at the ‘ring for two years as well. The FT-HS has godawful aerodynamics and ergonomics. And it has all-but-blocked views out the sides to the back. Toyota couldn’t build a car like this.
That’s not to say there isn’t a platform underneath which could be used to build a sporting Supra-type car. That car would likely use the same engines and drivetrain as the IS350, IS-F, and GS450H. That would present a wide range of powerplants, make the green necessary statement, and keep development costs down.
But what is wrong with Toyota over the past several years? Celica? Gone! MR-2? Gone! Supra? Gone! As of this moment there isn’t a single sporting car in the entire lineup… and the upcoming IS-F will probably cost 60-70K USD. This is the largest car company in the world… and they have nothing for enthusiasts – at the moment.
In light of the new twin turbo 335i from BMW, here’s a look at the Supra TT – a *very* different turbocharger system.
Compare and contrast this to the much cheaper-to-produce – and much lower power – BMW twin-turbo. The BMW engine is of course modern and up-to-date, while the Supra engine would be dated in this day and age (it’s a very early 90s creation). If it were brought up to modern standards (and didn’t have to face the Japanese HP limit), it would probably make 450 horses. It was certainly built for it, and as my readers know there are any number of 500-600 HP examples running around – with many approaching 1000 HP. When Toyota says this engine was developed to 500 HP, then detuned down to 320, it’s the truth.
The BMW engine, by comparison, doesn’t have the internals to handle that, much less the flow. In fact, the internals were the main reason for the delay of the engine into production.
Here are three diagrams from the Supra shop manual. A very complicated engine, very expensive to produce (probably more than the BMW engine), but with enormous potential.