Let’s just say the guy has some serious influence.
In the very near future, Toyota will gift the world with an all-new Supra sports car. Like its predecessors, it will retain its front engine setup, but that almost didn't happen. In a recent interview with Top Gear, Gazoo Racing chief and Supra program leader Tetsuya Tada admitted that "in the planning stages we suggested a mid-engined layout and BMW was happy to go with it."
BMW, of course, was Toyota's sports car platform development partner. The all-new Z4 roadster is BMW's version while Toyota will build the Supra coupe. But what or, more precisely in this case, who stopped any idea of a mid-engined platform? That would be Akio Toyoda himself.
"I took the idea to Toyoda and he told me off," Tada admitted. So why was the Toyota and current CEO so against going mid-engined, especially when "the Porsche Cayman has been (Toyota's) dynamic benchmark from the start"? The answer is quite simple. "We stuck with front engine because of feel and control. We know how to control a front-engined car, we already have that capability."
Despite BMW being game for something mid-engine, the final decision to stick with the front-engined layout did not affect the agreement to use the German automaker's 3.0-liter straight-six with around 300 hp and eight-speed automatic transmission for both sports cars. Tada also told Top Gear that a stripped-out, track-focused Supra is already planned.
Set to be called the Supra GRMN, this racing version could shave off over 200 pounds compared to the road going Supra. "We know if you take out 100 kg (220 lbs) it's a completely different car – you don't even need any more power." But will the Supra GRMN be track-only? "We're investigating both avenues, there's always a trade-off because being road-legal brings restrictions."
Considering Toyota has already confirmed the new Supra NASCAR, it makes sense for the company to explore additional motorsport opportunities, such as the LM GTE category. A few participants already include the likes of the Ford GT, Ferrari 488, and Porsche 911.