30 Years This Year: Toyota MR2, The Japanese Mini-Ferrari

What better time than confinement to dream of a summer at the wheel of a Youngtimer? Here’s one that makes you want to ride in the sun.

The Toyota MR is a special case in the history of the automobile, since it is, with the Fiat X1 / 9 for example, one of the few affordable small sports cars to benefit from an architecture usually reserved for supercars: the rear mid-engine. The MR lived from 1984 to 2007 in three generations, and it is the second, the MR2 (1990-1999), eligible for an ancestor registration since this year, that we are interested in today.

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The Toyota MR2 is a source of multiple pleasures. Pleasure of the eyes first, because if we find one that has not (too) suffered the pangs of tuning, it is a small car very nicely designed, which has something of an Italian sportswoman. We love its few typical 80-90 touches that we no longer find in current production, such as retractable headlights – now banned for safety reasons – and a T-Top roof. What is T-Top? It is a kind of targa roof, therefore removable manually, but which is here in two parts, leaving a crossbar above the heads of the two occupants Auto For Trade In Japan. The advantage is that this preserves the rigidity of the car, and therefore the quality of its behavior. However, behavior is the strong point of the MR2.

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Because with its engine in a central position and its transmission to the rear wheels, the MR2 indeed promises a very dynamic attitude on the road. And fortunately she has that because in reality, the performance of the Toy is not as brilliant as the look suggests. Its 2.0 16-valve 4-cylinder sends 156 hp (175 hp from 1994, more than 200 on the imported American versions) at 7,000 rpm, and barely 180 Nm at 4,800 rpm, to move some 1,260 kg all the same. You have to wring out the tachometer to take advantage of the thrust a little, but it will be a pleasure, since the short control of the excellent 5 manual gearbox is a treat to handle. And despite the modest and high torque, the engine shows surprising elasticity at low revs,

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If one wishes to immediately register an MR2 as an ancestor, the offer is rather meager. At the time of this writing, there are only 5 1990 specimens in Europe among the AutoScout24 listings, apparently all in fairly good condition and preserved from outrageous modifications, for prices ranging from € 5,900 to € 12,000.

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What about maintenance? Bad news: if we have a mechanical intervention carried out by a pro, it can be expensive in labor, the accessibility of a central motor being traditionally not terrible. Good news: it’s a Toyota. The MR2 is ultra reliable, does not suffer from any major weakness. If we carry out regular maintenance, we will not have any unpleasant surprises. And if, for example, you forget to change the timing belt (every 5 years), don’t panic, the engine is “non-interference”. Clearly, even if the belt gives up the ghost, the pistons will not hit the valves.

So, do you feel it, after confinement? toyota mr2 gt t-bar uk-spec 2
ToyotaMR2 1990
Engine4 cyl. petrol, central position, 1.998cc
Power156 hp at 6,600 rpm
Couple186 Nm at 4,800 rpm
0-100 km / h8.2 seconds
Point219 km / h
Consumption8.0 l / 100 km