The Toyota MR2 – History Toyota UK news, reviews, video…

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Toyota VM180 Zagato

The Toyota MR2 – History

We look at the Toyota MR2, a landmark car as popular today as it was when it back in 1983.


Toyota was not the first manufacturer to up with the idea of a small, mid-engine sports car. manufacturers from the late onwards had developed a number of exotic-sounding vehicles but they made much of an impression in of sales. Toyota’s landmark project officially commenced in but was delayed due to the worldwide oil crisis.

The was put back on track in 1980 a clear sense of direction: wanted to produce another sports car akin to its Sports 800 of the and had a hastened desire to pitch new models into the now rapidly North American car market. was the enthusiasm this project that many of the engineers gave up their summer to further its progress.


The public was first made of Toyota’s mid-engine project the SV-3 prototype was displayed on a lit turntable at the 1983 Tokyo Show. A major reworking of a prototype codenamed SA-X, the was so visually close to production that only the front and spoilers were redesigned for the car in order to better handle

Sales of the new Toyota MR2, a of Midship Runabout 2-seater, in Japan in June 1984 and six later in the UK, joining the Celica and in Toyota’s sporting line-up. Due to its powertrain layout, the car required a construction that contained a of five high-strength bulkheads, yet the car just 977kg split in a of 44:56 from front to

In Japan the MR2 was initially available in grades and two engine options, being the iconic 122bhp DOHC 16v 4A-GE engine the Corolla GT. Later in its life grew to include a T-bar panel and a supercharged 4A-GZE with 145bhp. Nevertheless, a top speed of 124mph and the ability to to 60mph in just 8.2 seconds, the aspirated MR2 was faster than the majority of its competition.

Corroborating the of contemporary road test which unanimously praised its athleticism and overriding sense of the MR2 was voted Japan’s ‘Car of the 1984-85’ ahead of stiff from the new Honda CR-X and Nissan Laurel.

Predictably, the racetrack handling also dividends in motorsport. It enjoyed race series in the US and UK, while Team Europe built a MR2 codenamed ‘222D’ to compete in the Group S category of the WRC, cars like the Peugeot 205 T16 and Quattro. Unfortunately this was cancelled when rally were banned.


was never any doubt that the MR2 stick to its mid-engine layout and fun to nature for the second-generation car. But for Engineer Kazutoshi Arima in command on the original MR2), the expanded to include a more and stylish design, improved higher quality interior, and a of larger, more powerful that would pitch the car upmarket.

As was common at the time, briefs were given to and teams within the Toyota Chief Designer Kunihiro (also credited with the LS400) then refined the design into a car that more than a passing to scaled-down Italian sports car

The svelte new MR2 went on sale in in October 1989, almost years after the launch of the car, but not before two prototypes had had suspension systems fine-tuned here in the UK, the MR2′s second export market. The car had grown in length, 30mm in width, and in wheelbase; the only measurement to was the height, now 10mm shorter. coupe or T-bar body were once again

Launch engines included 2.0-litre 16v powerplants: a base unit from the Carina available in the UK), the naturally 3S-GE with 165bhp, and a 3S-GTE with 225bhp was also used in the Celica A 2.2-litre 5S-GE engine was available Stateside instead of the 3S-GE. The improved torque of engines compared to the previous more than made up for the in kerb weight to 1160-1285kg on model). Indeed, Autocar (ital) magazine reported the new UK GT model had not ‘forsaken the original’s and finesse’ and that it was ‘an altogether assault on the senses’.

Minor occurred throughout this incredible ten-year lifespan. the enthusiast market, versions are more clearly identified by specific period they built in, from ‘Revision 1’ to ‘Revision 5’. In addition, Toyota’s arm, Toyota Racing developed and marketed two very versions of the car for the domestic market – saw the release of the soft-top TRD Technocraft MR swiftly joined by the wide-bodied TRD model in 1997 that included a gentle phase one tuning upgrade of the 3S-GTE This latter version was inspired by the broad-shouldered stance of the that had been competing in the Japanese GT Championship.


European sales of the MR2 continued into the New Millennium though production of the car’s replacement commenced in October Clues to its altered focus had revealed as far back as 1995 the MRJ concept shown at that Tokyo Motor Show. pundits were convinced the MRJ was the MR2 in all but name, even predicting its date and projected price But Toyota surprised everybody the debut of the MR-S (Midship concept at the 1997 Tokyo

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Technically an indirect replacement for the MR2, which had developed a grand tourer, the concept was a that Chief Engineer Nakagawa commented would “the cycle of growth”, to the habit of successive vehicle getting ever larger. about the car would be smaller – proportions, engine size, kerb weight and price. It also be much simpler to in that all markets would a similar specification.

Market was high that the next MR2 was to be a pure, genuinely exciting car geared toward a new generation and new


The third-generation car in Japan just a few days the 1999 Tokyo Motor and in the same month that cumulative passenger car production 100 million units. It bore the MR-S name as the earlier which seemed appropriate its new open-top construction. However, in markets such as Europe and the the car was respectively known as the MR2 Roadster and MR2

Incredibly, the new model weighed less than the first-generation car 960kg) while also a substantial specification level, a partly achieved by deleting the boot and therefore the fifth Instead, luggage capacity was by adding a full width, storage space behind the

Only one engine was offered the world, the all-alloy 1.8-litre 16v VVT-i 1ZZ-FE unit seen in the seventh-generation Celica. 138bhp on tap the new car was decently rapid, the highest power-to-weight ratio in its while it was particularly praised in the press for dart-like responsiveness the major control systems and its handling dynamics.

As seen in the generation car, the MR-S a fair amount of attention Toyota-affiliated tuners and the Japanese For instance, special editions the Modellista Caserta, VM180 VM180 Zagato, and TOM’S were produced in very runs.

However, the biggest change came in 2001 the manual gearbox was joined by an five-speed (and later SMT ‘Sequential Manual Transmission’. was the first time that a gearbox had ever been to any Japanese car, and because engagement was automatic it allowed the to change gear without to lift off the accelerator.


The New Millennium was notable for a slow, worldwide decline in the car market, which of course had a effect on the MR2. Annual figures that were counted in the tens of thousands dropped to thousands and then hundreds. Sales of the MR2 (and were concluded in the US and Australia at the end of the model year but carried on in Mexico and Europe until when production finally


Toyota VM180 Zagato
Toyota VM180 Zagato
Toyota VM180 Zagato
Toyota VM180 Zagato
Toyota VM180 Zagato
Toyota VM180 Zagato

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