Classic V8 muscle takes on new-age inline six-cylinder sports car. But is the new Toyota Supra a toothless tiger or a beast from the east?
When Toyota whipped the covers off its all-new Supra race car at Geneva overnight, it was all anyone was talking about. Yes, there were Lamborghinis and Bugattis, BMWs and AMGs, but the Supra racer stole the show, with a production version tipped to arrive Down Under in 2019.
It was like Kanye West appearing at a local karaoke night and not only stealing the show, but holding it to ransom with its star power.
You know what? It was reminiscent of when the Ford Mustang first launched, which was all anyone was talking about. The Mustang has since gone on to become a sales success, especially in Australia, but if – nay, when – the Supra comes to Australia, will it tame the Mustang or be quickly gelded by its own inadequacy?
Which of these two popular sports cars is your favourite — Mustang or Supra?
Ford Mustang: The upcoming facelifted 2018 Ford Mustang offers two options in Australia, a 2.3-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine (224kW/441Nm) or 5.0-litre V8 (339kW/556Nm). The four-cylinder Stang has pace but the V8 is proper tyre-shredder.
Toyota Supra: Given that the Toyota Supra is a joint-venture with BMW it’s widely expected to offer a BMW-built 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder turbo-petrol engine delivering 250kW/450Nm. Leaks from Japan suggest a smaller, cheaper 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine with 145kW is also coming.
Winner: At this stage the Mustang is the winner with its thumping V8 donk but don’t count the Supra out just yet. It’s smaller size and lighter weight may give it an advantage in the acceleration stakes and the hybrid trickery could be next level.
Comfort for the Mustang, roll cage and race wheel for the Supra race car
Ford Mustang: The Ford Mustang is a rear-wheel drive two-door coupe that’s offered with either 10-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmissions. A number of different modes are available, including a smoky burnout mode – although this has been disabled in Australia due to over-regulation.
Toyota Supra: The new Toyota Supra will also be a rear-drive animal but rumours from Japan suggest its inline engines will only be paired with automatic eight-speed transmissions from ZF, tuned by BMW. We certainly hope there’ll be a dual-clutch or manual option.
Winner: Mustang takes the driveline cake. But if the Supra has a drift mode we may have to revisit this exercise.
Will the Toyota Supra outpace the Ford Mustang at the drag strip?
SIZE & WEIGHT
Ford Mustang: Measuring 4784mm long and 1916mm wide, the Mustang is no Shetland Pony. It’s a big coupe, riding on a decent 2720mm wheelbase. Like all sporty coupes it’s quite low, at 1367mm. The V8-powered Ford Mustang GT weighs about 1700kg.
Toyota Supra: According to Japanese magazine Best Car, the new Supra measures just 4380mm long and 1855mm wide. That means it’s closer in size to a Porsche 911 than a Ford Mustang. Wheelbase is shorter at 2470mm and at 1290mm tall it’s significantly lower than the Mustang. It’s rumoured to weigh just under 1500kg.
Winner: Supra takes this one out, given that it’s shorter wheelbase will give it more nimble driving dynamics and its lower weight should improve all performance metrics, including braking, acceleration and cornering grip.
The Mustang is bigger and heavier…
Ford Mustang: The upcoming 2018 Ford Mustang — due in showrooms by August — has risen in price by a few thousand dollars in Australia. The entry-level four-cylinder turbo manual coupe will be pegged at $49,990, the V8 GT Fastback from $62,990.
Toyota Supra: Time for a bit of crystal-ball gazing. The Toyota Supra race concept revealed in Geneva provides a good look at the new model but little else. Factor in cutting-edge high-performance engineering and BMW components, and the Supra is almost guaranteed to be Toyota’s most expensive passenger car. But whether it’s line-ball or more expensive than Mustang remains to be seen.
Winner: Either way the Ford Mustang should remain a winner as the accessible sports car with a manual transmission. The Mustang also has a convertible body style. If Toyota’s 2.0-litre Supra eventuates with a manual transmission for dirt-cheap, it could be a different story. Watch this space.
History is on the Mustang’s side but the Supra is no Johnny-come-lately
Ford Mustang: Born in the swinging ’60s, the Ford Mustang concept made headlines in 1962 and was followed up by the production car in 1964. It’s always had V8 engines, coupe body styles and rear-drive power. Six generations later and the Mustang is still one of the most sought-after sports cars on the planet, with a rich heritage in automotive and popular culture.
Toyota Supra: When the new Toyota Supra arrives in 2019 it will be the fifth-generation vehicle, after the original A40 Supra from 1978, which was followed by the A60, A70, and A80 Series. Production ceased in 2002 but interest has always been maintained with appearances in The Fast and The Furious movies and prominent video games like Gran Turismo. The Supra has always been powered by inline six-cylinder engines, and like the Mustang has always been a coupe and rear-drive.
Winner: Although the Toyota Supra doesn’t have the pedigree of the Ford Mustang, it’s a car that could cut through to millennials and “the kids” more easily, especially if it’s loaded with high-tech doodads. This will certainly increase its overall value but the Mustang is steeped in history and its name is known by all and sundry, so it takes the win.
Ford Mustang wins! For now. There’s still a lot to learn about the Toyota Supra
Thus far, the Ford Mustang is the winner of this comparison. It’s likely to be more affordable, more practical and more powerful and global sales of the Supra will struggle to match the Pony car’s modern-day resurgence. That said, the launch of the Toyota Supra race car almost melted the information super highway we call the world wide web.