Fashion, as described by Oscar Wilde, is a "form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."
Unfortunately car manufacturers are not as agile to reimagine their wares in such a quick timeframe, as once the fabrication process is underway, they're pretty committed to churning out the same panels for quite some time.
As always, time will be the ultimate judge on which designs date horribly and those that become a new icon. Which is why I have some trepidation on drawing the comparisons between the BMW Z4 and the fresh new Toyota Supra. Both are stonking machines, by all accounts, yet one appeals to me more than the other.
There have been a number of architectural constructions in history that have been condemned upon opening day (and during building, but in time have become icons, for example the Sydney Opera House was once called a monster that crawled out of the bay, or the Eiffel Tower, which was labelled, "... useless and monstrous."
Time will also be judge as to whether my preference on this occasion ages well.
There's no disputing either the Z4 or the Supra's heritage. They both come with a storied history, albeit one younger than the other's. I do not deny that the Supra's absence from the market does make its re-entry a difficult manoeuvre to perform. It couldn't be shy, but it also needed to embody that which made the original an icon. When the wraps came off the FT-1 Concept, I could only describe my reaction as one of a raised-brow surprise before eventually lowering tide to being nonplussed.
The FT-1 didn't seem to me as much a modernisation of the old fourth-generation A80 Supra, as it was some other creature; something that I immediately ascribed to Toyota's determination to discard the boring moniker that had been dogging the brand for years, nay decades. It was a concept that could not be called boring, but I was hesitant at calling it attractive, or even a homage. There was little, apart from the elongated snout, that made me associate this car with the Supra of old.
But, I told myself, it was a concept only, and things could change.
And, like the Lexus LF-LC Concept before it, Toyota brought the car to market with four-fifths of Stuff-All changed.
I will admit to knowing precisely zero about the car manufacturing process, so I will refrain from making any claims as to how the Supra's design might have been curtailed or dictated by the underlying platform that it shares with the Z4. Considering the similarities between the Z4 and the new Supra in sticker price, and without drilling down into features and options, the only distinction to really make between the two cars is with their aesthetics and my own personal self-analysis.
In contrast to the Supra, the BMW Z4 carries no expectation from a fan base with a fond heart swelling from a lengthy separation. The new version of the Z4 is iterative, and not a complete reintroduction of a long-lost friend.
In Australia the Supra and the Z4 are priced, for all intents and purposes, the same. It could be argued that these two cars are vying for two different markets; the Supra pointing at the sports car enthusiast, and the Z4 skewed toward the drop-top Sunday driver. If I had to pigeon-hole myself into a demographic, it would be to the latter category.
Yet I can also accuse myself of badge snobbery in this case - because I am a simple person. All other factors being equal, I will lean toward a brand (and vehicle) that I feel is reflective of myself. Compared to the Supra, the Z4 seems understated, content to do its business without much bother to anyone else. The Supra is a little more extroverted, with a styling that is eye-catching, even if it's not particularly eye-pleasing.
The BMW is sharp like a classic suit, whereas the Supra is daring, and looking to set a trend. The Supra is cradled in the hand of fate, with time being the ultimate judge on whether its shape is either brash and tasteless, or insightful and bold.
I am not a daring man, and my preference in this case reflects my yawnsome and unfashionable nature.
There is, in my mind, a threshold that exists with peoples' hearts and head, particularly when it comes to spending money on something they want. It's a threshold that, once crossed, the heart takes over and thinks, "I'm spending this much, so I might as well get what I want, rather than what is the best value. I am getting what I feel is best for me."
Your threshold may be higher than mine. It may be lower. The Z4 and Supra are above my line, so in the event that I had the luxury to be spending circa AU$85000, the car that best reflects me, particularly in this two-door, driver-oriented category, would be the Z4.
I might change my mind. You'd have to ask me in six month's time.