The making of the MR2


Stories go around of the product invented in the backroom - In the case of the MR2 the story is true

After the Tokyo Motor Show in 1995 the future of the MR2 was not at all certain as no concrete plans for a small sports car had been finalized. There was also speculation that the tradition of a Toyota sports car would not be continued.

Toyota's Chief Engineer Tadashi Nakagawa knew that the next-generation sports car had to incorporate a high level balance of stability and agility, coupled with the pursuit of fun in driving.


However, it was also common knowledge that although, a long wheel base gave straight line stability, agility was reduced as cornering power was effected. The designer team headed by Tadashi Nakagawa recognized that weight reduction was the key.

At that time no commitment to a new sports car had been made. Nevertheless, the team began applying all their ingenuity, determination and technical skills to develop a sports car weighing less than a thousand kilos. Various technical changes were made, for example, the rear and front overhangs were shortened, and the engine was made lighter by concentrating on torque rather than power.

No written plans were made as they worked in secret, in their own time and in their own garage. Even top management were unaware that a new MR2 was being designed. A car soon to represent the new challenging and innovating image of Toyota.


Now in 1999, the current MR2 is driving proof that those determined designers succeeded in building a sports car which reflect the dynamic forward looking feelings of the new millenium driver.


The search for perfection and the challenge of developing a totally new type of sports car were the driving forces behind the successful launch of the MR 2. This car offers not only sporty lines and performance, but impressive comfort as well as a comprehensive passive and active safety package.


Pride in the MR 2 is generated by merely looking at the superior aerodynamic designed body - exuding roadster temperament. The front boasts an aggressive design, incorporating a wide and low grille. Not forgetting the hood profile with air intake and graphically designed headlights. This combination of aerodynamics and aggressive front design simply allows the appetite to drive this truly sporting sports car to grow.
That sporty feeling really comes to the fore on entering the cabin, which gives a spacious feeling, even when the roof is shut. Eye-catching bucket seats with Whiplash Injury Lessening system, not only enhance the sporty nature of the MR 2 but underline safety and comfort. Moreover, the ergonomic designed dashboard, incorporating a free rack system to accommodate individual tastes, conveys an open functional feeling , highlighting the "feel good factor".

On starting the 1.8 litre VVT-i engine the exhilaration of sitting in a real sports car is experienced. The light alloy VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing with intelligence) engine is an in-line, double overhead camshaft 4-cylinder. It has four chain-driven valves, two intake and exhaust valves each per cylinder. To increase its output, exclusive Toyota's VVT-i technology and the TDI (Toyota Direct Ignition) system are used - producing a maximum power output of 140/[email protected] (hp/kW/rpm) with a maximum torque of [email protected] (Nm/rpm). However, VVT-i technology is not just about feeling great acceleration, loads of torque and superb sports agility. It is also about optimising fuel consumption and lowering emission levels. All of which go along way to increasing quality of life.

Along side the exciting performance produced by Toyota's advanced engine technology is the sporty yet safe handling of the MR 2. Mid-engine configuration-producing low gravity centre- allows the MR2 to drive around corners like a Go-kart, whilst offering sports car road holding when accelerating and braking. Still greater road holding is provided for by wheelbase/length ratio and the short overhangs- the overhang is only 3885 mm, the wheelbase 2450 mm. Whilst, the fun to drive and safety feeling is reinforced by the wide tracks, making the car look lower, more stable and sporty.

In addition, a comfortable, controlled, stable ride is ensured by the electric hydraulic light weight steering. This system results in lower power consumption and optimises support when needed. And to ensure controllability, comfort and agility, not forgetting a good conscience at high speed, McPherson suspensions are fitted. At the front one can rely on the L-shaped suspension arms adopted to balance the straight and turning stability, as well as providing ample stroke. To the rear, the dual-link McPherson strut-type rear suspension permits easy and exact handling with ample stroke.

Allowing even more sport handling and producing optimal traction, the Limited Slip Differential ensures that the rear axle differential slips only up to a fixed value. Dangerous wheel spin is prevented, especially when cornering at speed or under wet conditions. Thereby, increasing performance and safety.

The MR 2īs low weight makes it the car it is.

Weighing in at a mere 975 kilos and powered by 140 hp/103kW, it has the best power to weight ratio in its class. This means superb driving dynamics in acceleration, braking and cornering, contributing to good road holding and a comfortable ride. And as it is so close to the ground, boasting the lowest in its segment at only 1235 mm, road holding is again improved, making it sporty and safe.

Made for driving

The MR2 is a sports car made to be pushed to its limits. And driving with a safe confident feeling at your side lets you discover the true performance potential of this car. That is why safety is taken seriously at Toyota. Beginning with the crash safety body with energy absorbing structure. Impact beams in the doors and rear upper and side members make up an effective crash-able zone. Furthermore, the MR 2 has a straightened main frame and optimised sectional structure. And for added stability main supports and larger and thicker sheets have been used. Additionally, cross members and reinforcing braces are optimally located to really give the best possible protection.

Driver and passenger SRS airbags lie in the steering wheel and dashboard, supplementing the restraining function of the seat belts. The belts themselves incorporate pre-tensioners with force limiters, thereby, protecting from injury in an optimal way. Naturally, driving a high performance sports car requires not only confidence in an advanced technology engine, but security when braking. The MR 2 has the advantage of electronic ABS and four ventilated disc brakes.

What is a sports car without a soft top?!

The perfect functioning soft top, provides both comfort and space. With ease, the top is opened and closed, folding down to prevent water from entering the cabin. And as the soft top enjoys a real glass rear window with defogger, safety and comfort are further enhanced as noise is reduced, whilst maintaining good visibility. A hard top is optional allowing for even more flexible use.


Exhilaration behind every
change of gears.

With the optional Sequential Manual Transmission (SMT) you can add excitement to your driving by changing gears in an instant -- without ever touching the clutch. Click here to find out more about SMT.
Attention To Detail

Details have not been forgotten in the MR2 as they go along way to underwrite the comfort and safety experienced in driving this car. For example, the clear acrylic wind deflector protects passengers from stormy windflows, whilst allowing perfect rear visibility. Peace of mind is also provided, even when the hood is down, by the well positioned lockable double luggage compartments behind the seats, as well as the front bonnet box. Combined with the open soft top anti-theft locking system, one has perfect security.


Last but not least

Refinement and a "Proud to Own" feeling is given to the MR 2 by the outstanding quality in fit and finish. Vibration and noise levels are minimised, thereby enhancing the good drive feeling anticipated. 

Now just enjoy those exciting confident driving moments.