Engineer flags end of road for sports cars

Toyota's chief engineer and creator of the latest Supra model is in Australia working with the car maker's Australian engineering team to do last-minute fine-tuning to the A90 prototype for local conditions.
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Engineer flags end of road for sports cars

Toyota's chief engineer and creator of the latest Supra model is in Australia working with the car maker's Australian engineering team to do last-minute fine-tuning to the A90 prototype for local conditions.

Tatsuya Tada has arrived along with the long-awaited sports coupe prototype (pictured) to make sure all is right ahead of production, scheduled to begin in the first half of 2019. It's been a long road for Tada who has been working on this model since 2012. Production will follow after the car's big reveal at the Detroit Motor Show in January.

Tada has been driving around with the Australian engineering team in Victoria for the last week, putting the six-cylinder car with its front-mounted engine and rear-wheel drive through its paces. They have been assessing the vehicle's reaction to Australian roads around Mount Buller, Bendigo, the Yarra Valley and along the Great Ocean Road.

Paul Diamandis, who leads Toyota Australia's vehicle engineering and development team, said the focus in testing of the prototype has been on urban agility, rough cornering stability, ultra-high speed agility, driveability, braking and seat comfort.

“Working on aspects of handling and other details here in Australia allows us to make refinements that will result in a better car right up until production starts,” Tada said.

Forty years on from the original model launched in 1978, this Supra heralds a new generation of sports cars with a special focus on cornering and enhanced performance, Toyota said. For Tada, this model is a much more serious sport car than the GT86. He referred to its 50/50 weight distribution, track width and a shorter wheel base. Tada also revealed that for this prototype, Toyota used BMW parts which presented many challenges for the Japanese car maker. 

“The direction of ideas, the cars are different, and because we are using BMW parts, and then you have to develop the Toyota-taste car using the BMW parts," Tada said.

As for what the future holds for sports cars and the people who love to drive them, Tada indicated it may be nearing the end of the road.

“Looking at the current automotive industry, the talk is all about autonomous driving, electrification and artificial intelligence. What that’s doing is giving rise to a lot of strict regulations, and that limits our capacity to make emotional sports cars; it’s getting much more difficult to do that," he explained.

"I think the new Supra will be the last present from Toyota to those who enjoy hearing the pleasing sound of a pure petrol engine at high revs."