Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Test: Supra Mk.IV – Toyota's last action hero

The Toyota Supra epitomized what a Porsche 911 is today: the safe, reliable and usable sports car with built-in ferocity wrapped in an elegant design.

Fuck that! We don't have to pay for the petrol ourselves," shouted Flemming and kicked the accelerator down. In the passenger seat, my head was thrown into the headrest behind me, Bil Magasinet writes. The hair stood vertically out of the targa roof, and a furious hiss drowned out everything but Flemming's shouts. The sun gray Toyota Supra exploded in a forward kick I was not at all prepared for, and right there on the odious North German highway the acceleration seemed astronomical. This was one of the wildest things I had tried after working two years at Bil Magasinet. THE TOP OF TOYOTA'S HISTORY The episode took place in September 1993, and the car was the all-new Toyota Supra, which had been presented in its fourth generation. Flemming was the information manager for Toyota Denmark at the time, who had invited Bil Magasinet to the presentation, which took place in the Hamburg area. Flemming later became a director at Toyota and then Peugeot in Denmark, so the Supra presentation was hardly the peak of his career. In retrospect, it was the pinnacle of Toyota's history, at least from the eyes of a Danish car enthusiast. The driver's seat was Toyota proper with a low seating position, a tall center console and a tachometer mounted right in the middle of the field of vision. Toyota was among the first to use a sequential turbo system, working with a cunning system that set the impellers of the number two turbo in rotation before it had to perform. CLOSEST COMPETITOR: HONDA NSX You couldn't hear anything about it in the cabin, however, and the 3-liter inline six didn't make unnecessary amounts of noise either. It was because engine sound became a sales parameter in itself. Zero to 100 km/h was over in a wild 5.1 seconds. The nearest competitor, the Honda NSX, introduced three years earlier in 1990, took a whopping 5.9 seconds, and the Porsche 911 couldn't keep up either. Still, the Supra was a good-natured creature at low speeds. The wildness developed linearly together with the accelerator cable without the turbo rope and with the calmness that the decent cabin provided even before the car was started. The Supra was truly a standout in Toyota's model range. Yes, there were the Celica models that Toyota ravaged the international rally scene with in the 90s, but with the Supra in the fourth generation, it was Toyota that set the standard for a beautiful and useful supercar. After the motorway trip outside Hamburg, the Toyota Supra stood at the front of my drum garage. In fact, it was even ahead of the then Porsche 911, ahead of the delicate and unreliable Ferrari 348, ahead of the Jaguar XJ220 with the bad brakes and next to the Bugatti EB110 that I had tested. The Toyota Supra was the epitome of what a Porsche 911 is today: the safe, reliable and usable sports car with built-in ferocity wrapped in an elegant design – albeit with a giant rear spoiler that divided the waters. While the design of European and American cars is often attributed to one person, no one other than Toyota as a brand has acknowledged the design of the Supra- the model from 1992. The fact is that although a car's design is often attributed to one person, there is always a larger team behind it. 20 YEARS LATER This realization is fundamental in Japanese industry, which is why the successful Supra design is not attributed to one man, but to a team – Toyota's team. It was a unique car and the crowning achievement for the ever-advancing Japanese car brand. The Supra was a hit from the first second and hit the spot in a way that the brand has not achieved since. A good 20 years later, I'm looking at a sun gray Supra again. Now with anthracite gray wheels and paintwork in a slightly darker shade. The wheels in TTE design reveal that Stefan, who owns the car, has done as virtually every other Supra owner: Optimized the beast a bit. That would have been sacrilege in 1993. A Supra was perfect as it stood. But the potential of the car is emphasized by the fact that, ever since its presentation, it has been the subject of continuous development by both Toyota itself via Toyota Team Europe, TTE, and Toyota Racing Development, TRD. STREET CARS WITH 1,600 HP However, countless engine tuners around the world have also done their bit to force extra power out of the straight six. The 3-litre in-line engine is particularly easy to tune, and there are street cars with up to 1,600 hp. The inevitable result is that there are very few original cars left. Perhaps that is why the unoriginal has been recognized as acceptable solutions. In the case of the Supra, it may be due to the desire for more horsepower, but for many Supra owners it is also about updating the bulletproof Supra to modern standards. That has also been Stefan's goal. In 2006 he bought a Supra with a manual transmission that was as original as possible. This kind exists in Japan, and with professional help he brought a fine, original model with 83,000 km on the odometer to Denmark via England. In addition to the fact that the steering wheel is on the right, the Japanese origin is revealed by the fact that the car has a fixed roof. Click 'NEXT PAGE' to read on

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