Sorry, Supra Haters: Toyota Will Keep Teaming Up to Make Sports Cars

If the MR2 or Celica does make a comeback, don't be surprised if it follows the Supra or GR86 formula.

Toyota

The GR Supra may be no more within a couple of years as BMW and Toyota’s partnership reportedly comes to a close, but the Japanese auto giant fully intends to partner with other automakers again to bring enthusiast cars like the Celica and MR2 to the masses. Or at least to the relatively small group of people who buy a car to have fun, rather than just get around. Gazoo Racing President Tomoya Takahashi says the only way for Toyota to keep making purpose-built fun cars in the future is to collaborate with other carmakers, according to Carsguide.

It seems vehicles like the fifth-gen Supra would’ve been killed in committee, never making it to production due to the cost of developing a whole new chassis and engine without the help of a partner like BMW. The cost of going it alone would have been too much for Toyota to sink into a low-volume car that would have failed to recover the investment. Love it or hate it, the platform and powertrain of the BMW Z4 are largely responsible for the release of the GR Supra in 2019. That collaboration with BMW always struck me as a natural branching out of the Supra family tree. Who better to help build a sports car powered by an inline-six than BMW?

Toyota has also long relied on the help of Subaru to make the GR86, reaping the lion’s share of rewards for joint production of the beloved twin to the BRZ. Toyota is once again looking for that kind of symbiosis in order to split the cost of development for upcoming models in the GR lineup. Takahashi tells Carsguide it’s not necessarily for the sake of continued survival for one manufacturer, “but to protect car enthusiasts.” He goes on saying, “Our mission is to make car guys smile, so we need to collaborate sometimes.” Takahashi adds, “The sports car market is shrinking in the future. We cannot maintain sports cars as one brand, Toyota. Collaboration between brands will increase in the future. We don’t know with whom we’re going to collaborate.”

Toyota

Takahashi also says that GR’s target is not to make fast cars, but fun ones. That is, the bonkers acceleration of EVs isn’t reportedly a concern for Gazoo Racing. Of course, Toyota is capable of making fun cars all by itself, as the GR Corolla and GR Yaris can attest to. But even those are souped-up versions of models originally conceived as commuter vehicles, rather than models made solely for enthusiasts. In the case of the Yaris, there was previous overlap with Mazda, which sold its own model as the Mazda2. Given their partnership, a Mazda and Toyota collaboration for a GR model in the future seems plausible. And Mazda’s commitment to electrification of the upcoming Miata also bodes well for a possible collaboration between the two brands.

For now, it’s unclear if Toyota will partner up, let alone who it would join with, to develop the rumored return of the Celica or electrified MR2. The only thing that seems clear is that Takahashi believes another GR SUV is necessary to grow the performance arm of Toyota. Takahashi told Carsguide that an SUV “may be needed in the future if GR is to expand.” Smart money is on something like a GR RAV4 (or RAV4 Prime) but in this new, stronger spirit of collaboration, I would love to see a Suzuki and Toyota collab yield a GR Jimny. It’s next to impossible, and a GR Century is way more likely when you factor in the monumental margins the automaker could reap, but a guy can dream. Look, Chairman Toyoda loves the Jimny, and an off-roader with the GR seal of approval would totally rule.

Got tips? Send ’em to tips@thedrive.com