In a climate where Ford F-150s are sold every 35 seconds, luxury brands are rolling out their 8th SUV model, and everyone in between is dabbling with electric/hybrid powertrains, the fun affordable sports coupes will soon become endangered animals. Ones so rare that they will force kids riding in the back of their mom’s Audi Q19 to roll down their windows and say, “Woah, what’s that!”
It’s no secret that the market is shifting. Boomers want Corvettes, Gen Xers want huge luxury SUVs, while Millennials want practical and fuel-efficient crossovers. Gen Z’s, most now college-aged, will all lean towards ride sharing until wages grow and student loans are once again affordable. On top of that, many people under 40, myself included, are flat-out living different lifestyles than their parents. We’re increasingly leaning towards gig-related careers, having fewer kids, looking for more affordable housing, and trying to be more environmentally friendly.
So what’s a guy (or girl!) to do when you want a fun, reasonably-affordable sports coupe? Well, that’s not really the question anymore, so I’ll rephrase it: What’s an automotive company to do when they want to make niche sports coups even though everyone’s buying SUVs? The answer: Joint Ventures.
Since day one, the Subaru BRZ and Scion FRS—now the Toyota GT86—have been the poster children of “copping out” in the car community. Toyota teaming up with Subaru? “Blasphemy,” enthusiasts cried, “It’s not a true Subaru/Toyota!”
But they’re not the only ones guilty of this anymore. We have the Mazda MX-5 Miata/Fiat 124 Abarth collaboration, the Chevy SS/Vauxhall VXR8 (though that was more of a re-badging), and now, the most recent controversial mash-up, the 2020 BMW Z8/Toyota GR Supra.
I know the MKIV Supra was a legendary “supercar killer” built from the ground-up by the mad scientists at Toyota with one of the best engines of all time, but it didn’t really achieve that status until various tuners put 1000+ horsepower inside of it. Hell, I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t really know what it was as a kid until I saw The Fast & The Furious for the first time. And no one even talks about the MKI – III models. Still, there’s no doubt that the MKIV is, and always will be, an icon.
So how could they team up with BMW? Well, my biggest complaint with the 2020 Toyota GR Supra is the nose; I just think it’s ugly. What I don’t care about is what parts they borrowed to get there. But across Reddit, forums, and comment sections there are endless complaints that Toyota’s new car is “not a real Supra” or “just a BMW with a different body” or “will never be as great as the old one.” All of these petty comments are made by the same fans that wanted the Supra name to be revived! And now they’re complaining because Toyota made it happen the only way that was feasible in today’s market: a joint venture with BMW.
At the end of the day, automotive enthusiasts should be nothing but grateful that big companies are still making an effort to deliver some variety; especially when they absolutely do not have to. Toyota, Subaru, BMW, etc, could easily shut down their car manufacturing and make just as much, if not more, money focusing solely on SUVs and Crossovers. Those are what consumers are really buying, after all.
We now live in a world where the legendary Mitsubishi Eclipse is goddamn crossover and we’re complaining about Toyota creating a BMW Supra? So what if the Fiat 124 Abarth wants to be a Mazda MX-5 Miata with a black hood and a poppier exhaust? So what if the Subaru BRZ just wants an upside down Toyota GT86 grille? And so what If there are two versions of the new Supra: a comfy grand-tourer with a soft top and a rigid sports coupe? As far as I’m concerned, it’s all gravy.