Toyota Mulling a Return of the MR2

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
toyota mulling a return of the mr2

Starting with the introduction of the 86 (Scion FR-S in North America) in 2012, Toyota began spicing up a brand viewed as being more synonymous with bulletproof reliability than fun. While this manifested itself primarily through more expressive exterior design choices, the brand also introduced performance-tuned GRMN variants in Europe and Japan. It’s also bringing back the Supra, arguably the brand’s most iconic sports car.

Still, a subset of the population looks back at Toyota’s history with a particular fondness for the mid-engined micro machine known as the MR2. Discontinued in 2007, the model was as endearing as it was fun to drive — especially those earlier incarnations, when it looked like a pint-sized Lotus Esprit. And, as luck would have it, Toyota’s European vice president of sales and marketing Matt Harrison says its return isn’t beyond the realms of possibility.

Speaking to Autocar at the Paris Motor Show, Harrison admitted the MR2 is in the “discussion stage” and is a favorite contender among the company’s development teams. Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda previously referred to the Supra, Celica, and MR2 as the “Three Brothers,” noting that he’d like to see them all return — but only if a business case can be made.

That’ll be the tough bit. While we’re happy to see the Supra again, we don’t know if the current consumer climate will give it a warm reception. Meanwhile, the 86 went from 18,327 U.S. deliveries in 2013 to just 6,846 last year — and that was a model everyone seemed to be clamoring for. The MR2 would be even more of a niche automobile.

However, if it remained true to form, it would have its odd place in the market all to itself. There’s not a lot of mid-engined two-seaters priced the same as a Honda Accord in production right now. If only there was some way for Toyota to mitigate the risks involved with producing a fun car that almost nobody is going to buy…

Platform-sharing as part of a joint venture might work. After all, Toyota’s partnership with Subaru delivered the 86 and a deal with BMW is what made the Supra possible. But who else would want to build a petite, affordable laugh with the engine in the wrong place?

Toyota might be stuck trying to build this thing on its own and, if that’s to be the case, Autocar suggests it could emerge as a hybrid or pure electric vehicle. Normally we’d cringe over such a suggestion, but the MR2 might be the perfect candidate for electrification. Since it’s sure to be small and lightweight, it’ll have the most to gain from a battery pack and e-mill. It doesn’t have to be practical or excel at long road trips, it just needs to be quick and fun — which an electric motor provides through gobs of instantaneous torque.

Obviously, we’re getting way ahead of ourselves here. Toyota hasn’t confirmed anything and the MR2 doesn’t seem like it’d be a high-volume vehicle in even our wildest fantasies. But the brand has said it wants to build several new BEVs by the mid 2020s and Harrison doesn’t seem opposed to the idea of one of them being an MR2. Would you be interested?

[Images: Toyota]

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  • Master Baiter It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future. It will be interesting to see if demand for Ford’s EVs will match the production capacity they are putting on line.
  • Brett Woods 2023 Corvette base model.
  • Paul Taka Hi, where can I find 1982 Honda prelude junkyards in 50 states
  • Poltergeist Make sure you order the optional Dungdai fire suppression system.
  • Prabirmehta I charge my EV at home 100% of the time. The EV is used for in-town driving and the gas guzzling SUV is used for out of town trips. This results in a huge cost saving and rare trips to the gas station.