The revived version of Toyota's beloved classic should have been a runaway success. It has the name value of a brand that's etched into the consciousness of every petrolhead who's under 35 at least. The oily bits are already proven components too, given that the car was extensively developed in partnership with BMW. The retail price is pretty reasonable and, although it's not the most powerful car in the world, it does have some decent grunt thanks to the BMW straight six it shares with the BMW Z4 M140i and the Morgan Plus Six. It doesn't even look that bad either, although I know that's somewhat of a controversial position to take. So, with all that taken into account, why isn't it selling that well?
The new Supra's already been out for a good few months in my home country. I've seen it written about loads in the car magazines and through the other typical journalistic outlets. I've seen plenty of videos about it. Yet, puzzlingly, I've only ever seen one of them out in the wild so far, a light grey example that was in a line of traffic in front of me as I was going about my daily business. I've actually seen more examples of its BMW Z4 twin than the Supra! I don't hear any excited stories about anyone wanting to buy one or getting to buy one either through the various places I'm active online and I don't know anyone in person who's actively looking to buy one. So, what's the issue with the Supra? It seems like a decent enough car!
I guess the biggest problem the rebirthed Supra has to contend with is its German heritage. The BMW components in the Supra don't stop at the mechanicals. The infotainment system and a lot of the interior components and switchgear are lifted straight out of the BMW parts bin too, although the infotainment system has been altered to a more Toyota-like setup. The end result is something that doesn't exactly scream "Toyota" at people who idolise the earlier Supras or even loyal Toyota customers. This may be a small price to pay for getting a Toyota sports car of that performance level that's affordable (the higher ups at Toyota have stated that if it was developed exclusively in-house, it could have ended up in a car that cost into the $100k mark), but for Toyota elitists it could be a price that's too much.
The second biggest issue the new Supra faces is, honestly, the way it looks. It's a design that's really divided opinion ever since it was revealed to the public. People were hoping for something that was more akin to the concept car that Toyota showed us originally. When the final result was revealed as what we have now, with its slightly odd proportions and double bubble roof, people experienced puzzlement at first and then erupted in raucous disappointment later. I can quite honestly understand why people don't like the design, even though I am personally a fan of it somewhat. It is a very daring and bold looking car. Unfortunately, a lot of people have very negative reactions to bold and daring looking cars - you only have to see what happened with something like the Pontiac Aztek, for instance. The balance between interesting and alienating is a very precarious one. Maybe the Supra would have been a better seller if the design was toned down a bit? It's impossible to say at this stage, really.
Thirdly, the new Supra suffers from exactly the same problem the GT86 suffered at its launch. It's a car that isn't set up from the factory for blowaway levels of performance. It's fast, sure, but it's not going to break any records or get up into Porsche 911 Turbo levels of speed. In the real world, that may not be such a bad thing - let's face it, the majority of people aren't going to be going that fast anywhere and the aforementioned GT86 now has a big reputation for being really fun at sensible speeds. Like the GT86 too, the Supra's been engineered to be easy to modify, with spaces for aftermarket parts and an engine that'll be no doubt very easy to tune as it's all off the shelf BMW stuff. But that initial perceived lack of performance is probably not doing the car any initial favours and it might put some prospective new buyers off the car, pointing them more towards something like a used Porsche 911 instead for more performance for a similar price.
Finally, there's one more elephant in the room regarding the Supra. As things currently stand, it doesn't have a manual gearbox option. There's only one transmission available and it's the BMW-sourced automatic that's also used exclusively in its BMW and Morgan siblings. For many enthusiasts of the original Supra, this seems like a bit of an insult. The older iterations of the Supra were always available with a manual gearbox and it was the preferred drivers' choice, especially in an era when an automatic meant a jerky four speed unit (or five speed if you were lucky!). Even though the BMW automatic unit is actually a very good gearbox and it's likely a lot of buyers won't mind not having a manual option in the real world, there's still a lot of that demand from enthusiasts and it wouldn't be rash of me to speculate that it's a big reason why the car isn't selling as well as it could be. Toyota have responded to that criticism though, saying that they would sell a manual version if there was enough demand. Maybe that's what will help the car to not be stuck in the doldrums on the new car forecourts? Who knows.
What do you think Toyota needs to do to make the Supra more of a showroom hit? Let me know in the comments!