Rumor: Toyota and Suzuki Developing Another Lightweight Sports Car

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Toyota and Suzuki are rumored to be collaborating on another lightweight, mid-engine sports car with some help from Daihatsu. While nothing has been confirmed, the model is presumed to be a successor to Toyota’s MR2 (pictured) – as the automaker has offered numerous hints in the past that the little two-seater (or something inspired by it) would eventually enter into production.

Following the joint development of the Subaru BRZ and Toyota GR86, the latter brand suggested it would eventually offer a trio of sporting options that paid homage to some of its most iconic performance models. It was suggested that one would probably slot in beneath the Toyobaru twins. Considering we already have the Supra and 86 on sale, the MR2 feels like the obvious choice.

A report by Motor1 has cited numerous Japanese outlets claiming the three companies were actively developing a two-seater equipped with a centrally mounted 1.0-liter three-cylinder motor producing somewhere around 120 horsepower. Best Car magazine has said the car is basically being designed with Toyota in mind.

From Motor1:

The Japanese magazine claims the three domestic automakers are working on an affordable mid-engined Toyota sports car with a turbocharged 1.0-liter engine. The three-pot is said to produce nearly 120 horsepower and 200 Newton-meters (147 pound-feet) of torque. It is believed the ICE will have a mild-hybrid setup to provide a small boost and improve fuel economy.
While the rumored output is not exactly impressive, the "Midship Sports" mentioned by Best Car is said to weigh just 1,000 kilograms (2,204 pounds). That would make it just about as light as the base Mazda MX-5 with the 1.5-liter engine, which has 129 hp and 150 Nm (111 lb-ft). It's said to be significantly bigger than the Miata and the third-generation MR2 by measuring 4,200 millimeters (165.3 inches) long, 1,720 mm (67.7 in) wide, and 1,220 mm (48 in) tall, with a wheelbase of 2,550 mm (100 in).
Suzuki is reportedly developing the engine while the front suspension will be adapted from the current-generation Yaris. The styling is said to take cues from the Daihatsu Copen although the rendering published by Best Car shows a sleeker sports car that takes itself more seriously. It would be strictly a two-seat affair and carry the Toyota badge.

While your gut is correctly telling you that’s probably not going to fly in North America without the mystery model seeing a bump in power, keep in mind that the base MX-5 produces significantly more oomph on our shores than it does in Japan. It’s not inconceivable that Subaru could spice up the powertrain when-and-if Toyota ships the model our way. However, it’ll probably cost a bit more than what’s being suggested right now.

Motor1 stated that the new model would cost between 2.2 to 2.8 million yen on the Japanese domestic market, depending on trim level and options. That’s just $16,500 to $21,000 when converted to U.S. dollars. But it also warned that these are just rumors and rumors often don’t make it into the world of facts. As things currently stand, we don’t even know how far down the path of development the hypothetical MR2 happens to be or if it has any real chance of making it to the finish line.

[Image: betto rodrigues/Shutterstock]

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Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Randy in rocklin Randy in rocklin on Feb 19, 2023

    I have a 2004 and 1991 MR2. The 91 was a barn find with only 52k miles.

  • El scotto El scotto on Feb 20, 2023

    -darts eyes- imagine one one of these with a tune and tires that are the equivalent of gum erasers. Casual Friday and weekend car. My local coffee and cars is across the street from Wallyworld.

  • Tassos Obsolete relic is NOT a used car.It might have attracted some buyers in ITS DAY, 1985, 40 years ago, but NOT today, unless you are a damned fool.
  • Stan Reither Jr. Part throttle efficiency was mentioned earlier in a postThis type of reciprocating engine opens the door to achieve(slightly) variable stroke which would provide variable mechanical compression ratio adjustments for high vacuum (light load) or boost(power) conditions IMO
  • Joe65688619 Keep in mind some of these suppliers are not just supplying parts, but assembled components (easy example is transmissions). But there are far more, and the more they are electronically connected and integrated with rest of the platform the more complex to design, engineer, and manufacture. Most contract manufacturers don't make a lot of money in the design and engineering space because their customers to that. Commodity components can be sourced anywhere, but there are only a handful of contract manufacturers (usually diversified companies that build all kinds of stuff for other brands) can engineer and build the more complex components, especially with electronics. Every single new car I've purchased in the last few years has had some sort of electronic component issue: Infinti (battery drain caused by software bug and poorly grounded wires), Acura (radio hiss, pops, burps, dash and infotainment screens occasionally throw errors and the ignition must be killed to reboot them, voice nav, whether using the car's system or CarPlay can't seem to make up its mind as to which speakers to use and how loud, even using the same app on the same trip - I almost jumped in my seat once), GMC drivetrain EMF causing a whine in the speakers that even when "off" that phased with engine RPM), Nissan (didn't have issues until 120K miles, but occassionally blew fuses for interior components - likely not a manufacturing defect other than a short developed somewhere, but on a high-mileage car that was mechanically sound was too expensive to fix (a lot of trial and error and tracing connections = labor costs). What I suspect will happen is that only the largest commodity suppliers that can really leverage their supply chain will remain, and for the more complex components (think bumper assemblies or the electronics for them supporting all kinds of sensors) will likley consolidate to a handful of manufacturers who may eventually specialize in what they produce. This is part of the reason why seemingly minor crashes cost so much - an auto brand does nst have the parts on hand to replace an integrated sensor , nor the expertice as they never built them, but bought them). And their suppliers, in attempt to cut costs, build them in way that is cheap to manufacture (not necessarily poorly bulit) but difficult to replace without swapping entire assemblies or units).I've love to see an article on repair costs and how those are impacting insurance rates. You almost need gap insurance now because of how quickly cars depreciate yet remain expensive to fix (orders more to originally build, in some cases). No way I would buy a CyberTruck - don't want one, but if I did, this would stop me. And it's not just EVs.
  • Joe65688619 I agree there should be more sedans, but recognize the trend. There's still a market for performance oriented-drivers. IMHO a low budget sedan will always be outsold by a low budget SUV. But a sports sedan, or a well executed mid-level sedan (the Accord and Camry) work. Smaller market for large sedans except I think for an older population. What I'm hoping to see is some consolidation across brands - the TLX for example is not selling well, but if it was offered only in the up-level configurations it would not be competing with it's Honda sibling. I know that makes the market smaller and niche, but that was the original purpose of the "luxury" brands - badge-engineering an existing platform at a relatively lower cost than a different car and sell it with a higher margin for buyers willing and able to pay for them. Also creates some "brand cachet." But smart buyers know that simple badging and slightly better interiors are usually not worth the cost. Put the innovative tech in the higher-end brands first, differentiate they drivetrain so it's "better" (the RDX sells well for Acura, same motor and tranmission, added turbo which makes a notable difference compared to the CRV). The sedan in many Western European countries is the "family car" as opposed to micro and compact crossovers (which still sell big, but can usually seat no more than a compact sedan).
  • Jonathan IMO the hatchback sedans like the Audi A5 Sportback, the Kia Stinger, and the already gone Buick Sportback are the answer to SUVs. The A5 and the AWD version of the Stinger being the better overall option IMO. I drive the A5, and love the depth and size of the trunk space as well as the low lift over. I've yet to find anything I need to carry that I can't, although I admit I don't carry things like drywall, building materials, etc. However, add in the fun to drive handling characteristics, there's almost no SUV that compares.