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Toyota Supra Sales Slump: Can the GRMN Revive an Icon?

From tuner legend to sales disappointment – what went wrong with the new Supra? BMW parts, a lack of soul, and the Nissan Z's arrival have tarnished its shine. But there's a last hope...

The Supra Conundrum: From Icon to Underdog

Say the word "Supra" to a car enthusiast and the first thing that comes to mind is the Mk.IV is immortalized by films from the early 2000s like the Fast & Furious franchise. With it, the Mk.IV Supra also immortalized the 2JZ engine, a tuner's paradise, a Fast & Furious icon, and a machine that could outrun others, twice its price. In typical Toyota fashion, it was the definition of over-engineered, a testament to the brand's ambition in its prime.

Cut to today, and the Supra name is back, but the magic isn't quite the same. Sure, the new Mk.V looks the part with its swoopy curves and aggressive stance. But beneath that Toyota body lies a BMW heart. This partnership made sense on paper as Toyota got a sports car platform, and BMW filled a gap in its lineup. Everyone wins, right? Wrong.  

Toyota Mk.IV Supra - Toyota Official Media

The current Supra has been a sales disappointment. The hype-fueled initial demand fizzled out quickly, and year after year, the numbers have been on a downward slide. Adding a manual transmission, a move lauded by purists, did little to reverse the trend. And then came the final blow: the Nissan Z. With its retro charm and potent turbocharged V6, the Z stole the Supra's thunder and reminded everyone what a true sports car should feel like.

Here's what Supar's current stand looks like:

  • The Supra's Identity Crisis: It's a performance car, but is it a true Toyota? BMW's partnership made sense but diluted the brand's appeal.
  • Mk. IV Magic vs. Mk.V Meh: The legendary Supra was overbuilt and tuner-friendly. The new one is competent but lacks that spark.
  • Nissan Z - The Final Knockout: The Z's retro charm, potent engine, and affordability stole the Supra's thunder.
  • GRMN: Last Chance for Glory? The hardcore limited-edition model could change the Supra's narrative... or be too little, too late.
  • Did Toyota Miss the Mark? Focus on performance figures may have overshadowed the emotional appeal sports cars need.

Is the GRMN Supra's Last Dance?

Toyota Mk.V Supra - Toyota Official Media

Toyota isn't giving up on the Supra without a fight. Rumors are swirling about a high-strung limited-edition model dubbed the GRMN. The "MN" stands for "Meister of Nürburgring," hinting at its track-focused mission. Think of it as the Supra's last major revision before this generation likely bows out.

And make no mistake - the GRMN is aimed squarely at gaining respect from the hardcore Supra and JDM fans that the Mk.V failed to do in the first place. It's expected to pack a version of BMW's S58 engine, the same one found in the M3 and M4, making close to 500 horsepower. Combine that with serious suspension upgrades, lightweight materials, and sticky tires, and you've got a recipe for a seriously competitive machine.

The BMW Factor and the Nissan Z's Knockout Blow

Nissan Z official press footage

By now, it's a well-established fact that the current Supra's biggest hurdle is its identity crisis. Enthusiasts see it as a "BMW in disguise," lacking the unique Toyota personality that made the Mk.IV is so special. While there's nothing inherently wrong with platform sharing, the Supra feels like it lost a bit of its soul. It performs well, sure, but it's missing that certain spark that makes a sports car truly captivating.

Then came the Nissan Z. While not without its flaws, Nissan nailed the intangibles. It looks fantastic, paying homage to classic Z-cars while feeling fresh. Its twin-turbo V6 has plenty of punch, and the six-speed manual is a purist's delight. Most importantly, it feels distinctly Japanese – a worthy successor to the iconic lineage.

The Z's success further highlights the Supra's missteps. Toyota focused on performance figures, may have forgotten that sports cars are as much about emotion as they are about lap times. The Z proves there's still a huge appetite for affordable, rear-drive, analog-feeling coupes. Toyota seemed to miss that memo.

Can the Supra GRMN Turn Things Around?

Toyota Mk.V Supra - Toyota Official Media

So, the question is: can the GRMN change public perception and revive the Supra's dwindling sales? It's a gamble, but it could pay off.

A true M engine would give the Supra something it desperately needs: bragging rights. Suddenly, it's not just a rebadged BMW but a car with unique performance credentials and that special BMW 'M' sauce. The GRMN's track focus could also win back purists who were turned off by the standard car's somewhat numb and Germanic driving experience.

But the GRMN will cost you a pretty penny and it will be produced in very limited numbers. This exclusivity may increase its desirability but won't do much to boost overall Supra sales figures. It might win battles on car review YouTube channels, but it's unlikely to reverse the Supra's lackluster sales performance.

The Supra's Crossroads – GRMN Glory or an Electric Future?

Toyota Supra MKV official toyota press footage

The Toyota Supra GRMN feels like a Hail Mary pass. It's Toyota throwing everything they've got at making this generation of Supra a critical darling, even if it might be too little, too late for broader market success. It's a car for hardcore enthusiasts, the folks who always thought the Supra needed more soul and less spreadsheet-driven engineering.

But the GRMN's very existence raises a more significant question about the Supra's future. With the automotive world rapidly switching to electric powertrains, will the next-generation Supra abandon its combustion heritage entirely? The signs point to yes. Toyota has ambitious electrification plans, and a high-performance EV sports car would be excellent PR for their tech.

An electric Supra might seem blasphemous to some, but it could be the right move. Think about it: instant torque, low center of gravity, and the potential for truly insane power figures. A well-executed electric Supra could outperform its gas-powered predecessors in every measurable way, and potentially win over a new generation of enthusiasts.

The Supra GRMN marks the end of an era – the last hurrah of the BMW-derived, gas-powered coupe. It's a swan song for a generation that never quite lived up to its legendary name. But it's also a hint at Toyota's ambition. The Supra nameplate isn't dead; it might just be evolving into something faster, sharper, and more shocking than any iteration that came before.

Bhavik Sreenath is an automotive expert, writer, and founder of Motolog Studio. With a Master's in Automotive Journalism and experience in publications like Bodyshop Magazine, he delivers compelling stories about the cars we love. From designing magazine layouts to reporting on eco-conscious practices, he brings a multifaceted perspective to automotive writing. His experience in Automotive Journalism makes him a vocal voice for car enthusiasts and industry insiders. Follow Bhavik on XLinkedInInstagram, and Facebook, to stay in touch and up-to-date with the latest EV and battery development news.


No (not verified)    April 12, 2024 - 10:44AM

The Supra's Identity Crisis: It's a cutprice BMW or a Toyota with BMW parts. BMW is a luxury sports car brand and Toyota is a maker of people movers. If the car was built by Toyota it would likely have been a (much bigger) disappointment.

The Legendary Supra: The MKIV is and always was overrated. Like the awful movies it appeared in. And as for overbuilt, have you even looked at a B58 engine?

Nissan Z: Are you serious. A car built on 10 year old tech that has been smashed in every metric not only by the Supra but in some cases by the lowly 86/BRZ. What an absolute joke!

GRMN: Stop using the same Best Car article from last year to create an entire article. The Supra will have a mildly tuned B58 with largely cosmetic changes, ala GRMN Yaris. Get a grip.

And just a note on sales dropping sharply. Almost every Supra around the world is pre-sold with up to a year of wait time in some regions! With the Z4 picking up steam it has left the Supra production line with less capacity as they are both coming of the same line.

This isn't journalism.. its regurgitation of non-facts and weirdly biased Nissan Z love.

Bhavik (not verified)    April 12, 2024 - 3:49PM

In reply to by No (not verified)

It's okay mate, I understand your frustration I guess you are just a fanboy and not an unbiased car person (which is a rare breed nowadays). Here's a somewhat detailed response to your passionate feedback. While I respect your love for BMW engineering (who doesn't admire a well-built engine?), here are a few things to consider:
Toyota OWNERSHIP, BMW ENGINEERING: Like it or not, the Supra is a Toyota, and some folks yearn for a true in-house Toyota sports car (clearly not you since you just called it a people mover brand), I guess you haven't heard of Crowns, Centuries or even the Chaser. It's not just about raw specs, but the experience.
NISSAN Z: Yes, older tech, but sometimes simple is better, and at least it's honest and not pretentious. The Z proves there's still a market for fun, affordable, RWD coupes. It's outselling the Supra despite being arguably less sophisticated.
MK.IV LOVE: Love it or hate it, the Mk.IV has a cult following the current car lacks and I think that's a hard pill for you to swallow. It's okay I am sure they run support groups for people like you. That over-engineered 2JZ engine became a tuning legend for a reason and no I am not talking about the movie franchise that's "all about family".
HYPE VS. SALES: Pre-sold cars don't equal long-term success and this is something a journalist knows better. The initial buzz fades, and that's when a car needs to stand on its own merits, not just be "the new thing" which the Supra lacks big-time as of now.
Bottom line, enjoy your BMW-powered Supra – it's a capable machine, no two ways about it. But don't fault others for wanting the real Toyota deal, or for appreciating the Z's old-school charm, you need a certain level of maturity to do that. How about you check out other sites, they will tell you the same thing about dropping Supra sales - FYI.
And hey, at least you didn't knock Toyota's reliability. That's a battle even die-hard BMW fans know they can't win 😉