What if Akio Toyoda heralds in an all new era of openness in the automotive industry? Where we will see more and more successful collaborative projects from car makers, allowing us to have more and more unique propositions? A Toyota open top off roader partnered with Jeep? Or maybe the next Toyota Celica, Caldina, Charger, Mark, Altezza, Aristo, Verossa?


Now would you like to be on board Akio Toyoda’s vision of Toyota’s future?

There’s a saying that you will only dream so hard on something that you seem to have a chance to obtain. And the evidence is clear with young working adults snapping up the BRZs and 86s that they’ve waited patiently since school days. And for those who’re in school back in 1990s and are now in their late 30s, they can finally tell their younger self that they’ve bought that very car that used to hang on their bedroom wall.


And with this strategy slowly educating the automotive world, we will then see true innovation likewise that of the mobile phone industry, focus on features and solutions and leave the camera sensors to Sony, the batteries to LG, the semiconductors to Samsung, the processors to Qualcomm etc.

It’d be quick to pass Akio Toyoda off as the grand-scion of the family bloodline, thus allowing him to run whichever viscosity of racing oil through his veins he wished to make such bold statements. Moreover, it is easier said than done as the automotive industry’s current era of cut throat margins, increasingly costly legislative procedures, environmental concerns, increasingly competitive markets can render the slightest balance sheet cough-ups to sneeze into a financial pandemic that risks millions of employee’s livelihoods.


Moreover, unlike his grandfather’s time, the company now exist in an era where it is the mundane family sedans and SUVs that determine the fate of sports and enthusiast cars, a far cry from the old mantra of "Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday” where car makers need to prove their worth on the race tracks to be able to sell their regular family cars.

Few noticed that when the latest GR Supra was officially launched in January 2019, it also marked the 10th year anniversary of Akio Toyoda’s appointment as the president of the world's largest car company. Yes, Toyota is a behemoth larger than that of Honda and Ford combined.


I can't say Akio’s leadership didn't start off without skepticisms from with-in and with-out. Eyebrows frowned from the old guards when Akio went racing for the Toyota team under a pseudonym, and eyebrows raised internationally when Akio claimed that under his watch, every single Toyota will be exciting to drive from then onwards.

If it weren’t for Akio Toyoda and his team that believed in his capacity, Toyota wouldn’t have had the opportunity to resurrect the 86 and the Supra at all, not that they couldn’t technically, but it wouldn’t make sense for a car maker to make monetary losses just to satisfy a handful of enthusiasts do they?


But why is it so important for car makers to indulge themselves into these sports cars that are rubbish in day to day practicality? They have lesser seats, they have lesser doors, they have rubbish boot space, they’re almost always low riding, bad visibility, difficult to park, they’re uncomfortable, and you can’t have your Starbucks Marchionne Ghosn latte venti in those tiny shallow cupholders too. What do they do in the real world? Who do they serve in the real world? Why make them anyway?

Yes, if not for the front wheels of the Vios, Altis, Yaris or Camry pulling their rears off the showroom floors, enthusiasts of the world will not have the opportunity to counter the rear wheels of the GT86 with the fronts while pointing into the apex. That's the cold hard truth of today's automotive world. It wouldn’t be fair for me to lay claim that Akio Toyoda as a hardcore enthusiast and all he cared for while moving his stocks off the showroom floor and upon justifying the figures to his share holders is then to rub his palms together wishing for the next sports car to make.


Akio seems to know exactly when to go all out for intangible gains, case in point the building of a carbon fibre loom just to weave the structure of the Lexus LFA, which got all fanboys wanking themselves off the redline. And Akio also knew when to give up on senseless romanticisms such as the teaming up with Subaru for the revival of the Hachiroku and then spurred up controversy when he announced the collaboration with BMW for the revival of the legendary Supra.

What this cultivates in modern Japanese society, is the assimilation of cars to appliances rather than objects of desire. Cool kids no longer associate their family cars in the same sphere as their G-Shocks, Gundam figurines or Lebron James sneakers. Cars were grouped alongside that of the refrigerators, microwave ovens and vacuum machines, where their sole existence is only meaningful until they stopped functioning and will then be swiftly discarded away.


This dilution of interest in cars is slowly sucking the life out of Japanese youngster’s desire to own cars, lest to even see it as an object of desire, of pride and joy. I believe Akio Toyoda sees this, and is pursuing this with a strategy that is working, both for the kid’s wallpaper, and the board’s accounting papers.

This is the exact reason why no child would ever place a Vellfire as the wallpaper of their iPads, nor the countless four wheeled instant cup noodles littering Japan that people buy, drive, and throw away later on. These K-Cars had for a few decades eaten away the imagination of young Japanese children, one that happens every morning when the kid observes his father making minor adjustments to his corporate Japanese attire of black suit and red tie, along with his deep fatherly tone lecturing his kid to be a good boy as he glanced from the mirror’s reflection. Just as daddy picked up his briefcase from the gently bowing mummy still in her breakfast apron, this manly fatherly scene took a quick turn of event as the kid unbearably turns his line of sight away as daddy beeps his Daihatsu Wake and buzzes away in the most emasculating vehicle. Every. Single. Morning.


The 86, Supra, and LFA wouldn't have been possible without Akio Toyoda fighting Toyota.


Our visual perception of physics, be it judging whether we’d hurt more from falling onto grass or spiky rocks, or paddling water with a broad wooden plank or a slender branch, or whether our primordial self will be able to cut open a hunted prey with a sharp or blunt rock is forever at work intuitively. In essence, we’re all genetically coded to know a sports car cuts through wind better than a boxy bread van, and that fundamental understanding of nature cultivates our yearn for objects of dominance.

You see, we humans are genetically programmed to seek dominance. Try and give a 2 year old toddler the choice between a little load and shoot Nerf gun and a gattling Nerf gun with 12 rounds, you know which she’d pick. Show them pictures of a puffin and a bald eagle, they’d knew which one’s faster and and stronger. It’s just human nature to seek for semblance of power and dominance. And I believe I can lay claim to something as yet proven scientifically, in that the same toddler will be able to tell whether a bread van or a slender sports car will win in a drag race.



For this shoot, I took a gamble with natural light. On our first day with the car, I had aimed for sunset, which didn’t happen. So, the next day, I woke up early with friend in the 86 and headed up to Bukit Tinggi only to find our location to be too cloudy with insufficient sunlight. We ended up spending most of our time chit-chatting whilst waiting for the lighting to be right. For any photographer wanting to take good photos, the right location and lighting helps tremendously in taking great shots! - TJ

On the road, the Munich-sourced 3.0-litre straight-six delights with resoundingly strong acceleration delivered with buttery smoothness. Alongside it, the ZF 8-speed ‘box continues to make us wonder what’s the fuss with dual clutch transmissions – here’s a torque converter auto that’s smooth, quick, never puts a foot wrong, and has a robust operating track record to boot.


Its chassis, meanwhile, is delightfully playful – front end reacts immediately to steering inputs, whilst the rear dances happily to the flexing of your right foot. Not so lairy as to be frightening, but just naughty enough to keep you on edge. This goes hand in hand with a ride that a Camry owner may find busy, but one that is surprisingly plush in the context of this particular car.



The latest Supra, as we all know, is based on the Z4 and that, for some critics apparently, is not good enough; though I’m not sure since when was having a car with BMW engineering a bad thing.


In any case, you can barely tell the Bavarian bits from the outside. The side mirror, door handles, and, if you look sharp enough, the brakes rotors, are the only items from the BMW parts bin. Every external panel is unique for the car’s Toyota application.


Inside, the BMW DNA is way more obvious – if you didn’t get the hint from the switchgear, take a scroll on the iDrive. Effort was taken to craft a unique digital instrument cluster, but the unique fonts wound creating an appearance at odds with the rest of the Bavarian-flavoured cabin.

Toyota injected just enough of its own DNA into the Supra both in styling and tuning that this car proudly carries its own identity and is more than just a coupe version of the Z4. In fact, there’s something special about the Supra that most people I surveyed would choose the Toyota over the BMW even if money is not a factor. The few who went with the Z4 did so solely because #dropthetop. – Kon

Does it drive like a BMW? Mostly, but not entirely. In fact, I struggled to pick up any BMW-ness in its behaviour on my first acquaintance with the car, which amazingly reminded me more of a meatier and brawnier 86 than any Bimmer I’ve driven in recent memory.





6-cylinder, In-line, 24-valve DOHC, Twin Scroll Turbo


Displacement cc



Max. Output (kW (PS) / rpm)

250 (340) / 5,000 - 6,500


Max. Torque (Nm / rpm)

500 / 1,600 - 4,500


Acceleration (0-100 km/h)


Top Speed (km/h)

250 (Electronically Limited)

Olympus OMD Mark III, f/2.8, 1/15 sec, ISO 400, 0 step, 22mm

Olympus OMD Mark III, f/2.8, 1/25 sec, ISO 400, 0 step, 36mm

Olympus OMD Mark III, f/2.8, 1/50 sec, ISO 400, -0.7 step, 40mm

Olympus OMD Mark III, f/2.8, 1/500 sec, ISO 400, 0 step, 50mm

Olympus OMD Mark III, f/2.8, 1/20 sec, ISO 400, -0.3 step, 12mm

Olympus OMD Mark III, f/2.8, 1/250 sec, ISO 400, -0.7 step, 40mm