By Kathy Moran
Photos by BENING BATUIGAS
It was a hot, hot afternoon — as sizzling as the mood of the car enthusiasts, car dealers and media present in the cool venue was, when the top automotive manufacturer Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) officially launched its flagship sports car, the all-new Toyota GR Supra.
From where I sat, I listened to the sports car geeks — yes, mostly male — as they regaled each other with knowledge of how fast and pleasurable the GR Supra driving experience was. As they waited impatiently for the unveiling of the new GR Supra, they snacked on canapés available for afternoon merienda.
“This launch is different because it is the iconic Toyota Supra,” said TMP marketing services department vice president Elijah Sue C. Marcial. “It’s the first GR product here and globally. GR — or Gazoo Racing — is the motor sports or racing development arm of Toyota. Most of the Toyota models are on the conservative side but this is an exciting sports car.” The target market: affluent males in their late 30s and early 40s. “They are looking for luxury and, at the same time, fun and excitement,” adds Marcial.
LET THE FUN BEGIN
“It feels good to drive… That is the essence of the Supra.” So the opening video informs us. “The history of Supra’s performance is the history of its driving pleasure created by the relationship between driver and car. It’s as though driver and car become one…”
That video was making the target audience salivate even more; soon they’d see and maybe even experience the cockpit of this iconic car themselves.
Out pops the host Sam YG.
This is the most exciting launch for this year,” he began. “ I am not gonna lie. I have been to different launches this first half of the year and I have not seen as many excited faces on people.”
And then on it was to the launching of the icon as Toyota president began with his remarks.
“Today we are making history together,” began TMP president Satoru Suzuki. “The all-new Toyota GR Supra has finally arrived on our shores.”
To celebrate its return to the world stage, Suzuki announced that Toyota Motor Philippines would now bring in the legendary model.
“This will be the very first time that the GR Supra will be retailed in the Philippines, and only a limited number of units will be available through 16 of our certified GR Performance dealerships nationwide,” Suzuki added. “The all-new Toyota GR Supra is TMP’s new flagship model. We are confident that the Philippine market will be receptive, considering how we have steadily recovered for the first half of 2019.”
His confidence stems for the fact that Toyota Motor Philippines has already sold 73,454 units. As TMP approaches its 31st anniversary this coming August, the arrival of the GR Supra is the perfect cap to three decades of meaningful partnership, setting standards for the entire automotive industry.
The all-new Toyota GR Supra, known as the A90 or Mk. V, was actually trotted out by Toyota as a teaser at the recently concluded F Vios Racing Festival. For its first appearance in this market, it will be available through 16 of its certified GR Performance dealerships nationwide.
“Bringing the legendary Supra here is something we have always wanted to do, and we are positive that there are countless Toyota fans out there who share the same enthusiasm,” said TMP first vice president Cristina Arevalo. “The Supra, above and beyond, embodies Toyota’s pledge of making ever-better cars.”
Having been around for more than half a century now, and being a car lover myself, I am familiar with the previous incarnations of Toyota Supra. From its status on the automotive scene as a symbol of genuine performance, the model is also ingrained in popular culture. Through four generations, the Supra was widely recognized by fans everywhere.
“It is a car we love — and no one is more dedicated to its revival than Toyota Motor Corporation president Akio Toyoda,” quipped Suzuki. “With the help of Toyota Gazoo Racing, a fifth generation model was developed, and the result is a modern evolution of a timeless classic.”
SIT BACK AND RELAX
After many “hard motoring” questions from media, we were asked to wait a bit before the GR Supra was unveiled. As I sat and cooled my heels I read up a bit more about the Supra.
Like: did you know that following a 17-year hiatus, the legendary Supra made a comeback and took the motoring world by storm with its international debut in Detroit? Now in its fifth generation, the new Supra is the first global Toyota Gazoo Racing model, with all units being manufactured at the Magna Steyr plant in Graz, Austria. Toyota GR is Toyota’s performance development arm, which aims to produce ever-better cars through motorsports. The GR Supra is the culmination of Toyota’s racing expertise.
True to its Japanese DNA, which includes early grand tourers like the A40 to the futuristic concept car FT-1, the All-New Toyota GR Supra is now ready to be tested — right here.
During its development, the Supra was road tested on a range of surfaces — such as snow-covered terrain in Northern Europe, the Autobahn in Germany, highways in the United States, and winding routes in Japan. The result is careful tuning that emulates the racing spirit, allowing drivers to experience the joy of driving even in everyday situations.
WELCOME TO THE PHILIPPINES
The Philippine variant of the Toyota GR Supra is powered by a twin-scroll turbocharged, in-line six-cylinder engine that produces a maximum output of 335 hp and 500 Nm of torque. A flagship sports car through and through, the GR Supra is a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive coupe that comes exclusively in three-liter engine displacement and 8-speed automatic transmission.
Both chassis and body frame are crafted to enjoy; evenly distributed front-rear weight is crucial in achieving optimum cornering performance. Its wheelbase-to-tread ratio is one of the smallest among mass production sports cars, contributing to its renowned responsiveness.
The all-new Toyota GR Supra is also armed with Adaptive Variable Suspension. Its front wheels are equipped with double-joint type MacPherson Strut, while the rear wheels come with Multi-Link suspension. The Supra features a Limited Slip Differential and ventilated disc brakes. Its high body rigidity, low center of gravity and aerodynamics all combine to give the driver ultimate driving speed and precision.
As a testament to Gazoo Racing’s commitment to performance, the All-New Toyota GR Supra was recently driven by none other than Toyota Motor Corporation president Akio Toyoda in the world-renowned 24-hour endurance challenge at Nürburgring, Germany.
IT’S GOT THE LOOK
The all-new Toyota GR Supra is the modern evolution of its rich Japanese lineage: the model inherits key styling features from both the Supra A80 (1993) and the Toyota 2000 GT (1967). Starkly noticeable at the onset is the double-bubble roof and expressive curves in the sheet metal — two elements that exceed mere aesthetics, contributing to its racing potential by reducing lift and drag.
Set as low and wide as possible — just as all sorts car should be — the all-new Toyota GR Supra has an athletic stance that evokes a dynamic look referred to by Toyota engineers as “Condensed Extreme.”
Its front grille is flanked by large air intakes on both sides, with character lines that meld seamlessly down the flared spoilers and trapezoidal bumper with dual exhaust pipes plus diffuser. The silhouette profile is perfectly accentuated by 19-inch forged aluminum wheels, with custom-made tires by Michelin.
And, just to make this baby complete — the Toyota GR Supra has a distinct illumination setup: the front features six-lens LED headlamps that integrate daytime running lights and turn signals, while the rear lamps combine turn, tail, and stop into one stylish main ring. The dot-type LED backup lamps are located in the center of the lower bumper. A Follow-Me-Home lighting feature is also present.
Beautifully engineered and functional by design, the all-new Toyota GR Supra sets the bar high for sports cars in the years to come.
Processing all this, I headed for the Polo field where the launch was to be held. The ballroom was festive and loaded with dealers, enthusiasts, media and other guests. Then, as the sun began to set at 6:15 p.m., we made our way to the stage outside the ballroom.
Suzuki welcomed us all. “To our valued customers, dealer principals, and esteemed guests, I would like to thank everyone for coming to witness yet another important milestone for Toyota.
“The GR Supra is TMP’s new flagship model. It comes with an impressive 3-liter twin-scroll turbocharged engine that can go from zero to 60 miles or 96.5 kilometers per hour in just over four seconds.”
TMP chairman Alfred Ty offered a toast as the GR Supra was unveiled. “We are all here not only to celebrate the birth of the legendary Toyota Supra — this occasion is a coming together to celebrate Toyota’s love for making cars that are fun to drive, safe and dependable to ride, and which bring a car ownership experience that makes you want to come back for more. Let us raise our glasses and drink to the new Toyota Supra.”
With that the GR Supra zoomed out to the platform — amid “ooohs” and “aaahs” from the crowd. Inside the ballroom two Supras were unveiled and people began taking selfies with the iconic model. It was an evening of fun and car-loving joy. Kat Agarrado crooned onstage, but the real swooning took place over the Supra. Just super.
JUST WHAT I WANT
I edged closer to the stage to get a good look at the cockpit of this beauty. I had to be restrained, because I really wanted to start its engine. Inside, the all-new Toyota GR Supra is built to provide the best insulation and cruising experience for its driver. The interior of the Philippine variant comes purely in black, with muted carbon accents for an understated luxury feel. The Alcantara sports seats are equipped with lumbar support and eight-way power memory adjust, and the three-spoke leather steering wheel has both manual tilt and telescopic adjust for optimum ergonomics.
Aimed at driving precision, the all-new Toyota GR Supra has a narrow-sectioned dashboard that offers expansive forward visibility. The vehicle intuitively assists its driver in focusing on the road through an advanced Heads Up Display (HUD) plus responsive Paddle Shifters, complemented by 8.8-inch TFT-LCD Multi Information Display gauge.
A fresh approach on the center console has been adapted to fully envelop the driver with its new asymmetrical design, adding a padded pillar to cushion the right leg while still maintaining roominess for the passenger.
The interior stays cool with a dual-zone, push-type air conditioning, and you’ll stay entertained with an 8.8-inch TFT LCD touchscreen display with Bluetooth and USB connectivity that synergizes with its 12-speaker, High-Fidelity surround sound system powered by JBL.
The all-new Toyota GR Supra has seven SRS airbags, three-point Pre-tensioner and Force Limiter seatbelts, as well as Traction Control, Vehicle Stability Control, and an Anti-Lock Brake System.
It was getting late and time for me to head home. I gave the GR Supra one last loving look — indeed, it was built for the driver to fall in love with — not just for its looks but for its driving pleasure as well.