Doomed if you do, damned if you don’t.
If you were an automaker and you let a certain Japanese corporate partner and indirect competitor, with whom you have an amiable and multi-faceted technical relationship, access to one of your newest sports car platform and as well as a tried and true engine, you’d be a little wary if the car they create upstages your own.
That’s the situation that BMW may have found itself in with the Toyota GR Supra being such a darling of the media and community of enthusiasts both, and eclipsing the virtually identical third-generation Z4 upon which it is based. Would you then allow them to slot in an even better engine, one you yet again were responsible for?
Of course, the answer isn’t answerable until multiple analyses are done, inspecting the pros and cons on a number of fronts and projecting future outcomes with multiple variables at play. However, on the face of it, our gut would reject the idea.
History has been witness to a great many, more mad engine swap stories than this. And technically, there’s no reason why the 3.0-litre S55 twin-turbocharged inline-6 (most recently used in the M2 Competition) wouldn’t be suitable for fitment in the confines of an A90 Supra, and at a large scale. In that case, why not the purported S58 that will be powering the next-generation M3 and M4?
The idea of a more ferocious BMW engine being paired with the ‘Zupra’ been floating ever since it was confirmed that the A90 would be co-developed between the folks at Munich and Aichi, but neither company has uttered a word either way about its real-world prospects.
Until, that is, BMW M division president Markus Flasch commented on the matter to while in conversation with Autocar. In fact, while he doesn’t confirm nor deny the project’s existence or possible current status, he does seem open to the idea:
“We’ve certainly made no offer to supply the engine to Toyota – and no request has been made, as far as I know. But it’s an interesting idea, if unlikely for now. It would be a lot for us to give away, you might say. But I’d never say never.”
Currently, the all-new 5th-generation Supra makes use of a pair of BMW turbocharged petrol engines, a 190kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder (B48) and a 250kW 3.0-litre straight-six (B58), though the latter has been proven in independent dynamometer tests to produce higher figures than quoted.
With some tuning work, elevating that closer to the 331kW found in the M3 and M4 Competition wouldn’t be all that hard, enough to satiate the die-hard fans of the A80’s legendarily tunable 2JZ engine, though you would be risking that comprehensive warranty should something go wrong.
Access to the next-generation of fire-breathing inline-6 units from BMW’s M divison would give Toyota and their GR performance sub-brand the headroom necessary to give the A90 Supra the kind of stratospheric outputs its predecessor was capable of handling with aplomb, but at what expense to BMW’s pride?
Depending on how successful the tuning community is in unlocking the S58’s potential in a possible range-topping Supra, direct comparisons with BMW are sure to follow, and those might highlight the relative strictness to third-party tampering the German automaker practices, potentially driving even more sales to Toyota.
So, if you were BMW, would you let Toyota have the S58 to slot into the Supra?