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Something unusual happened on the launch of the Toyota Supra in Spain a few weeks back.

Tetsuya Tada, the Supra’s chief engineer, openly expressed his admiration for Porsche. This doesn’t happen. Representatives from one company scrupulously avoid talking about another’s product, let alone praise it. Yet here was Tada-san saying he admired Porsche’s attention to detail, citing an instance where he knows they made a minute adjustment to the brake software, and openly saying he was disappointed Porsche had moved away from the flat six to the turbo four, but that the Cayman was still the only rival that mattered, the car they had benchmarked.

He was pricking the balloon. Until he mentioned it, the Cayman was the tensioned elephant in the room. Of course it was. The Cayman is the default answer to every “I want a proper sports car” question (at least it was until they threw out the flat six and replaced it with a turbo four). Did he believe, I asked him, that he had built a better sports car than the Cayman? The usual pragmatic answers: it’s nice to be considered alongside it, it’s a shame they’ve lost the six cylinder, we have done our best. But behind it, a quiet confidence.



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