Toyota and BMW’s joint sports car project is set to spawn two different-sized four-wheel-drive hybrids that won’t be direct rivals for each other

BMW and Toyota are planning to spin two different sizes of vehicle off their ongoing joint sports car project, allowing engineers from the two companies to deliver the next generation of Z4 and the return of the Supra name respectively.

The original deal to work together on a mid-size sports car was announced in 2012. Few details have been released since then, but BMW did confirm late last year that the project had entered the “concept phase” and that a technical feasibility study had been “successfully completed”.

Senior sources have now confirmed further details, including where the car Toyota produces will sit in the firm’s product line-up.

Speaking at the Geneva show, Toyota Europe vice-president and product planning chief Karl Schlicht said: “The intention with the new car is for it to sit above the GT86. It doesn’t replace that model; the GT86 goes on with its own mission.”

That positioning tallies with the return of one of Toyota’s classic sports car names. While the Celica badge has traditionally been used for models of the GT86’s size, the Supra name would give the firm a mainstream sports car flagship. It also allows the new car to be considerably more expensive than the GT86, reflecting what is likely to be a complex powertrain and high-tech construction.

As Autocar revealed last year, the two models are likely to feature a hybrid four-wheel drive set-up incorporating a BMW petrol engine and electric motors whose energy is stored in supercapacitors.

BMW is understood to be bringing its expertise in construction to the project, with the new sports car likely to follow the existing i3 and i8, and the forthcoming 7 Series, by making use of carbonfibre in its architecture.

Toyota’s most recent sports car concept, the FT-1, could be seen as a preview for the Japanese brand’s offering. Its 4.6m overall length is broadly the same as that of the last Supra, which was withdrawn from sale in 2002.

A model of this size would also be significantly larger than the existing Z4, but Ian Robertson, BMW’s board member with responsibility for sales and marketing, has stated that the two manufacturers have come up with a proposal that can satisfy different areas of the sports car market.

“The one thing we’re clear on now is that a platform for both companies can work,” he said. “The cars in themselves don’t actually need to be positioned the same. The platform can spawn two positionings.

“The concept works, the platform can deliver and now we have two proud sets of engineers - one group German, one group Japanese - who are each fighting and arguing for the car they want.”

When asked if the platform was scalable, to allow for the sort of difference in wheelbase that there could be between a Supra and a Z4, Robertson said: “Gone are the days when one platform was one platform. Most of our platforms are scalable these days.”

Robertson also said that no decision on production had been taken, but he suggested that a single factory would be used for both cars. “One part of the next phase will be deciding who builds the car - which company and in which country. We need to find out where the markets are and whether the biggest markets are the same for both companies.” It’s thought that a plant in the United States or Europe is more likely to be used than a facility in Japan.

Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus, does not currently have access to the joint sports car program, but senior company officials have refused to rule out the idea in the longer term. “Toyota is next door,” said Lexus’s European boss, Alain Uyttenhoven. “We are one company and our head is Akio Toyoda, and we could do it. Right now, we are not going to have a common platform between BMW and Lexus. Purely speaking, though, we have access to everything which is Toyota.”

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Our Verdict

The BMW Z4 has more comfort and added practicality, but has it gone soft?

The BMW Z4 is a fine-looking two-seat roadster with indifferent driving dynamics

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24 March 2014
Don't know what to make of it, i like the look,but, is it saying BMW,it's a bit over the top style wise,which isn't BMW ethos,loose the wing,smooth it out a bit,here comes the back lash.....! eeoouch!

Peter Cavellini.

24 March 2014
Build it BMOTO & we will buy it !

 Offence can only be taken not given- so give it back!

24 March 2014
the Toyota one please, so im not fleeced for a "premium" badge and other drivers will let me out of side roads.

24 March 2014
the Toyota one please, so im not fleeced for a "premium" badge and other drivers will let me out of side roads.

24 March 2014
to be a blend of the BMW and Toyota styling. It is interesting that Toyota is once again taking the sport segment seriously. Hope some sportiness trickles down to their stock cars, Auris, Yaris, Avensis. Who thinks up these names? It's even worse than Scirocco, Up, Rabbit and Caddy.


24 March 2014
Apart from the OTT rear wing, that is a tasty looking BMW. As for the Toyota version, the present range is largely devoid of desire, so this could be a win for them too.

24 March 2014
....... it adds a bit of sparkle to the Toyota range, it can only be good. Think I agree with other views that the Toyota version will be more 'socially acceptable' to other motorists though ! This BMW looks a bit too extravagantly styled to my eyes. If they make it as good as the FT86 to drive it should be a cracker.

Enjoying a Fabia VRs - affordable performance

19 July 2014
BMW is a very popular luxury and sports car brand in the Automotive industry. BMW sports cars are more efficient and also very stylish in looks. All car models are more lengthy and wide in their shape. BMW repair and maintenance are also very much useful for the good performance.

29 August 2014
Hybrid car's are the demand of the time. World is becoming technology oriented in that context it's quiet better to add the machine's to the catalog which are more user friendly.

20 March 2015
Talking about heritage, a four-wheel-drive Supra doesn't sound right. It should strictly be a RWD sportscar. Celica nameplate on the other hand, is more famous with the 4WD drivetrain. Toyota should mind this. But wouldn't it be a great prospect if Toyota could seriously consider producing successors of both Legends - the new RWD Supra & 4WD Celica sportscars?


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