"Enthusiasts are finally getting the vehicle they've been salivating over for years with the debut of the new Supra," said Jessica Caldwell, head of analysis at Edmunds. "But the question remains ... will it really do anything to help Toyota attract new buyers. Having a flashy sports car in the window used to be a proven halo to lure buyers into the showroom, but with shoppers prioritizing technology over horsepower, it remains to be seen how long that bait will work."
Other analysts believe the traditional U.S. car market, dominated by sedans, is evolving into specialty niches, such as convertibles, wagons and performance coupes such as the Supra.
With a low center of gravity, wide track and short wheelbase for crisp handling, the 2020 Supra boasts a 50-50 front-rear weight ratio and body rigidity on par with the carbon fiber Lexus LFA. The car is code-named the A90, following the previous A40 through A80 models.
Powered by a twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0-liter I-6 engine from BMW mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and augmented with direct fuel injection and continuously variable timing on both camshafts, the 3,397-pound 2020 Supra generates 335 hp and 365 pound-feet of torque.
The Supra, built to double as a track car and tested at the Nurburgring by Toyoda himself, features a stiffened rear structure and a new front suspension to improve performance. It also boasts four adaptive dampers as standard equipment that automatically lowers the car 7 millimeters (a little over a quarter inch) as needed for better handling and grip while cornering.
An electronically actuated active differential sends power to either rear wheel as needed for better traction. Stiffer wheel bearings increase rigidity and large-diameter disc brakes with robust four-pot Brembo calipers provide high-strength stopping power.
Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada told Automotive News last month that the Supra's design was begun on purpose at the track, forcing some decisions which otherwise might not make sense in a market where sports car sales are always fickle. Last year, automakers sold just 61,226 compact sporty cars in the U.S., down 17 percent from a year earlier. With deliveries of 28,730, the Subaru WRX accounted for almost half of the volume in the segment last year.
"We focused on making this car as small as possible. It comes in a small package, and the driver can always feel the corners of the four tires," Tada said. "That, in turn, determined the width of the car, which made it impossible for us to create the rear seat. So we have created a two-seater car despite opposition from our sales department."
Toyota killed off the Supra in North America in 1998 but the car remained in production for other markets until 2002. Toyota has struggled with sporty coupes ever since.
The last-generation Supra offered a twin-turbo six that gave what was then near supercar performance of 0-to-60-mph times under 5 seconds and a top speed of more than 150 mph. That car was also pricey, selling for more than $50,000 in 1996, the equivalent of more than $80,000 today.
Toyota says it will go on sale in the summer and will be available in two grades: 3.0 and 3.0 Premium, as well as a limited Launch Edition version of the 3.0 Premium trim.
Pricing for the 2020 Supra starts at $50,920, including shipping, for the 3.0 model. The special launch edition, limited to 1,500 cars, will be priced from $56,180.