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Potential Toyota MR2 Return Galvanizes Japanese Sport Compact Segment

Image Source: Walter Eric Sy @ShutterStock

As we approach the end of the 2024 calendar year, rumors are still circulating within the automotive community about the resurrection of Toyota’s iconic ‘MR2’ nameplate.

We’ve seen several impressive renderings over the past few years, which have kept the discussions alive among enthusiasts. While not official, these creations were expertly crafted and sparked excitement as a talented artist’s interpretation rather than a confirmed reality from Toyota.

Things Are Starting To Get Real

Earlier this year, it seemed possible that an MR2 revival, if it were to happen, would likely steer towards electric vehicles, considering the current trends. However, Toyota’s FT-Se concept car left a lot to speculation, as its mid-ship design strongly hinted at the possibility of a gasoline or hybrid engine being positioned behind the cabin.

The FT-Se concept (above) has been marketed as one of Toyota’s future EV sports cars, with a design that also appears to make considerations for a possible petrol-powered MR2 rebirth

While younger car enthusiasts would surely welcome its return, an electric version does not capture the essence that gave the MR2 its name. Official records state that “Midship Runabout 2-seater” is the origin of this esteemed Toyota acronym, though it’s more universally interpreted as a nod to the sports car’s mid-engine and rear-wheel drive layout. A smaller crowd amicably refers to it as “mister two”, in a playful manner.

The most recent industry buzz indicates that the MR2 is more likely to keep a close tie with its heritage, and two potential scenarios are emerging from the discussion. One is that the new MR2 will feature some form of the 1.6L turbocharged 3-cylinder engine used in GR Corolla, which seems like a sensible choice.

Teamwork Makes The Dream Work

Latest developments suggest that the development might become a joint effort involving Toyota and two subsidiary companies—Suzuki and Daihatsu—with the former known for building both compact cars and compact engines. This latest news also suggests that there will be the option to offer the platform with a manual transmission. Exciting.

These aspects will be crucial from both an emissions and performance perspective, as Toyota aims to address both aspects with equal dedication. Daihatsu is said to play a key role in the general design process, while some speculations have suggested that a partnership with Porsche is also under consideration. Now, wouldn’t that be interesting?

Rendering by carscoops – nothing official yet with regards to how it might look, but here’s a wonderful interpretation of the upcoming MR2 complete with all the GR fixings

The Future Is What They’ll Make Of It

At this point, we can say that there are pretty good odds that the ‘MR2‘ name plate will make its return for a 5th-gen run, with certain sources saying it could arrive as soon as the 2025 model year. It’s a little bit harder to predict in earnest how closely it will embody the spirit of MR2s gone by, but the latest news indicates that we can expect good things from Toyota. The aforementioned collaborations leave the door open for a variety of engine and trim options. Don’t be surprised if there’s a Lexus spin-off down the road either.

Can the new Toyota MR2 be as charismatic as its predecessors? We’ll just have to wait and see…

Car enthusiasts have eagerly awaited the return of an affordable mid-engine performance car since the  last MR2. While some may argue that the MR-S should be considered, it never quite reached the same level of success and status as the MR2.

It’s worth noting the Pontiac Fiero as a crucial contributor in this category. It wasn’t until Toyota incorporated their reputation for superior build quality that we truly experienced exceptional mid-ship performance at a reasonable price. It appears that those days may be returning, if everything falls into place as planned. Stay tuned!

Image Source: Walter Eric Sy @ShutterStock

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