Home » The Toyota Soarer Z20: Luxurious Performance Grand Tourer

The Toyota Soarer Z20: Luxurious Performance Grand Tourer

toyota soarer z20

In the mid-1980s, the Japanese automotive landscape was undergoing a revolution. Performance cars were capturing the imagination of enthusiasts worldwide, and Toyota wasn’t about to be left behind. Enter the Toyota Soarer Z20, a grand tourer (GT) that offered a unique blend of luxury, comfort, and surprising power. Launched in 1986, the Z20 marked the second generation of the Soarer nameplate and carved its own niche within Toyota’s lineup.


A Platform Shared with a Legend

The Z20 Soarer wasn’t built in isolation. It shared its platform with the iconic Toyota Supra A70, a relationship that would become a defining characteristic. However, while the Supra embraced its sporty personality, the Soarer took a more sophisticated approach. Its design, though sharing some elements with the Cressida and Mark II, leaned towards a more elegant and streamlined look. This distinction was clear: the Soarer was a car meant for effortless cruising, not weekend track days.

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Engineered for Power and Comfort

Despite its focus on luxury, the Z20 Soarer wasn’t a slouch in the performance department. Toyota offered a range of engine options, catering to a variety of driving styles. The base model featured a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter engine, but the real excitement came with the higher trims. The 3.0-liter naturally aspirated engine provided a satisfying blend of power and refinement, while the crown jewel was undoubtedly the 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged 1G-GTE engine. This powerhouse delivered an impressive 222 horsepower (depending on the market) and 275 Nm of torque, propelling the Soarer with exhilarating acceleration.

However, the Z20 Soarer wasn’t just about raw power. Toyota engineers also prioritized a smooth and comfortable ride. The suspension system was tuned to absorb bumps and road imperfections, while the luxurious interior provided a haven for driver and passengers alike. Plush leather seats, advanced climate control systems, and a plethora of technological features like an electronically adjustable steering column and a digital instrument cluster all contributed to the Soarer’s luxurious feel.

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Technological Innovation

The Z20 Soarer wasn’t just about comfort and performance; it was also a showcase for Toyota’s technological advancements. Features like an electronically controlled air suspension, a traction control system (TEMS), and an electronically controlled automatic transmission (ECT) were all cutting-edge for the time. These innovations not only enhanced the driving experience but also foreshadowed the technological prowess Toyota would become known for in the years to come.

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Toyota soarer z20 Engine and powertrain

The Toyota Soarer Z20 (1986-1989) offered a range of exciting engine and powertrain options, catering to both performance enthusiasts and everyday drivers. Here’s a breakdown of the key setups:

Variety of Inline-Six Choices:

The Z20 boasted four distinct engine options, all utilizing a 2.0-liter inline-six-cylinder configuration. This provided a solid foundation for both power and handling.

Naturally Aspirated Power:

For those seeking a balance between performance and fuel efficiency, the 1G-E and 1G-GE engines were available. The 1G-E prioritized fuel economy, while the 1G-GE offered a more spirited driving experience with its dual overhead camshaft (DOHC) design.

Turbocharged Options for Performance:

Stepping up the power game, Toyota offered two turbocharged variants: the 1G-GTE and the 3.0L 7M-GTE. The 1G-GTE, the crown jewel for many Soarer enthusiasts, packed a twin-turbo punch, delivering impressive acceleration thanks to its intercooled setup.

Transmission Options:

The power from these engines was channeled through either a 4-speed automatic or a 5-speed manual transmission, depending on the chosen engine and trim level. This allowed drivers to tailor the driving experience to their preference, with the manual offering a more engaging connection to the car’s performance.

Rear-Wheel Drive for a Dynamic Experience:

Adding to the sporty character, all Soarer Z20 models came exclusively with rear-wheel drive (RWD). This layout provided a sharper handling experience and a sense of connectedness to the road.

In conclusion, the Toyota Soarer Z20 boasted a diverse selection of engines and powertrains, catering to a wide range of driving styles. From fuel-efficient options to exhilarating turbocharged beasts, the Z20 offered a compelling package for those seeking a stylish and powerful coupe.


A Turning Point for Lexus

While the Z20 Soarer remained exclusive to the Japanese market, it played a crucial role in the birth of Lexus, Toyota’s luxury brand. The Lexus SC series, introduced in 1991, was essentially an export-oriented version of the Soarer. The success of the Soarer in Japan helped pave the way for Lexus to establish itself as a major player in the global luxury car market.


A Legacy of Style and Performance

Production of the Z20 Soarer ended in 1991, but its legacy lives on. It’s revered by enthusiasts for its unique blend of luxury and performance. The Soarer’s timeless design, powerful engines, and innovative features continue to impress even today. While it may not be as widely known as its Supra sibling, the Z20 Soarer holds a special place in automotive history as a luxurious grand tourer that offered a thrilling driving experience.

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Finding a Z20 Soarer Today

For those seeking a slice of Japanese automotive history, the Z20 Soarer presents a compelling proposition. However, due to its limited production run and right-hand-drive configuration, finding one in good condition can be challenging. Potential buyers should be prepared to look for imported models and factor in the additional costs associated with registration and maintenance.

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Toyota soarer z20 interior and driving experience

Stepping Inside the Toyota Soarer Z20: Luxury and Tech Galore

The Toyota Soarer Z20 wasn’t just about impressive performance; it was a luxurious grand tourer designed to cosset its driver and passengers. Slide behind the wheel, and you’re greeted by a distinctly 80s atmosphere – plush upholstery, sweeping curves, and a focus on driver comfort.

One of the most striking features is the instrument cluster. Unlike many cars of the era, the Soarer Z20 often featured a digital gauge cluster, offering a futuristic feel and displaying vital information clearly. Additionally, some models boasted a  remarkably advanced infotainment system for the time. Complete with a  tiny CRT touchscreen nestled under the climate controls. This let you control the radio, adjust settings. And even interact with a rudimentary navigation system – a true marvel of its day.

But luxury wasn’t just about gadgets. The Soarer Z20’s seats were designed for long-distance comfort, offering ample support and generous legroom. High-quality materials like leather and wood trim further enhanced the sense of occasion.

Taking the Wheel: Power and Control

Fire up the Soarer Z20, and a throaty growl emanates from the engine bay. This wasn’t a car built for subtlety; it promised power, and it delivered. Put your foot down, and the Soarer surges forward, propelled by a potent engine that offered exhilarating acceleration.

However, the Soarer Z20 wasn’t just about brute force. Advanced suspension systems, like the Toyota Electronic Modulated Suspension (TEMS). Allowed drivers to adjust the car’s handling characteristics for a more comfortable ride or sharper handling on twisty roads. Precise steering provided a reassuring sense of control, even at high speeds.

In conclusion, the Toyota Soarer Z20 offered a compelling blend of luxury, technology, and thrilling performance. It was a car that turned heads, delivered an unforgettable driving experience, and coddled its occupants in style.


A Collector’s Item or Daily Driver?

The decision of whether to own a Z20 Soarer as a collector’s item or a daily driver depends on individual needs and preferences. Its parts availability can be limited compared to more common cars. So owning one as a daily driver might require a certain level of mechanical aptitude or access to a specialist mechanic. However, for those willing to put in the effort, the Soarer can be a rewarding and head-turning daily companion.


The Toyota Soarer Z20 was more than just a car; it was a statement. It offered an escape from the ordinary, a chance to experience luxury and performance in a way that