Toyota has been sprung secretly testing its upcoming Supra sports car in country Victoria a month before its official unveiling at the Detroit motor show.
The top secret $80K-plus two-door sports car that will be powered by a BMW six-cylinder engine was spotted in the Yarra Valley east of Melbourne.
A top secret media event attended by a handful of motoring scribes took place at the same hotel – the RACV Resort outside Healesville – as Ford was using to launch its new Focus and Endura to other motoring media.
Those specialist automotive media are bound by an embargo that prohibits them talking about the car's Australia visit and its purpose until December 19.
However, the camouflaged Supra was on display and was spotted driving on roads through the Yarra Valley during the soggy Melbourne day.
A Toyota spokesman refused to detail why the car was in Australia, instead releasing a brief statement that said: "Toyota Australia can confirm an A90 Toyota Supra prototype was in Australia this week."
The Supra's chief engineer, Tetsuya Tada, was also secretly flown to Australia to shed more light on the project, providing key details.
It's understood some Australian media were invited to get a closer look at the car and speak to executives bringing the highly anticipated sports car come to life.
Toyota is expected to confirm the car was undergoing testing and validation in Australia as part of its global tour and ahead of its worldwide reveal in Detroit in January.
Toyota has long tested four-wheel drives and utes in Australia – using the outback and bush as a test ground – but sports cars have typically not been developed locally.
It demonstrates the importance of the car to Toyota Australia – and how widely Toyota head office in Japan is spreading the development of what is a crucial image car for a company once criticised for creating whitegoods on wheels.
The Supra was developed in conjunction with BMW; it shares its rear-drive architecture with the upcoming BMW Z4.
Like the BMW, the Toyota will be powered by a 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder turbo engine.