Tetsuya Tada is the head engineer behind the Toyota 86, a series of sports cars jointly developed by Toyota and Subaru. He recently spoke to Car Advice about how Toyota could create a performance rival to BMW and Audio, and his dreams of conjuring up a new Toyota Supra and even a new version of the Celica GT-Four.
Tada-san is pushing for a performance brand in the future, and he is not letting go of the idea. “BMW has its M Division, Mercedes-Benz has Mercedes-AMG, Audi has quattro GmbH, so they have a stance of a sports car, but Toyota hasn’t,” Tada-san told Car Advice. “So I would like to build that major sports car brand within Toyota, like BMW’s M.”
Toyota’s Racing Development arm TRD does have a long history of working directly with Toyota, but Tada-san says that the company could also look to beef up its relationship with Gazoo Racing, the team that led racing assaults by the Toyota 86 and Lexus LFA during the 24 Hours Nurburing. “BMW and M and Audi and quattro GmbH used to be like the Toyota relationship with Gazoo – it wasn’t really one body, it was two separate things. But because of the time and the continuous effort, now they are together. So, I’m wishing that Toyota puts effort continuously, and then someday later, Toyota and Gazoo will be one body.The important thing is to keep putting in the effort and continue – never give up.”
Tada-san has noticed the success of the Nissan GT-R and Honda NSX, which are both getting high marks. Both cars were rivals to he Supra, which of course begs the question: could Toyota revive the Supra? “Ah, new Supra…,” said Tada-san. “It’s waiting for you in Japan,” he joked, noting the continued presence of the car in Japan. “We’re putting all the effort into making it happen. There is so much gossip about it may be happening or it may be produced, but amongst Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), much of the things people think, have already been tried. But trying [‘things’] and trying to reach production, are two different things. So, of the ideas from our team, maybe one tenth is the production car.”
There are some rumors and spy shots that seem to confirm Supra’s return, including the shots of the BMW Z4 successor, which is said to share a platform with next-generation Supra. However, Tada-san did not have a timeframe he could point to regarding the return of the production model. Previous Supra successor concepts – like the Toyota FT-1 concept that debuted at the 2014 Detroit motor show – have not yet materialized.
As for that other iconic Toyota, the Celica GT-Four, Tada-san is also a big proponent of its return to production. “Production car would be preferred [not a concept],” Tada-san said. The Celica GT-Four was launched in 1986 with the original intent of competing in the World Rally Championship (WRC). The Celica GT-Four was a homologation special manufactured until 1999. It paired a turbocharged 2.0-liter 3S-GTE four-cylinder with a five-speed manual transmission and four-wheel drive, giving the car outputs in the vicinity of 180kW of power and 300Nm of torque (depending on year, specification and market sold).
“I would prefer a new Celica GT4 – turbo, four-wheel drive. [It’s a] really fun car and really fast. And [it was fast on] every type of road. [A new one is definitely] one of my dreams.”