MR2 Revival Underpinned By Toyota GR Yaris?

Toyota is reportedly developing a small, affordable, mid-engine sports car that will be cheaper than the 2nd generation Toyota GR86.

Forbes recently reported that Toyota, it’s subsidiary Daihatsu, and manufacturing ally Suzuki are teaming up to build a new mid-engined sports car. It will reportedly be based on Toyota’s GA-B platform (used in the GR Yaris), and powered by a 998-cc turbo three-cylinder engine supplied by Suzuki. Rather than the 109 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque, it makes currently in the Suzuki Swift, the engine is expected to make around 150 horsepower. From there, it’ll apparently travel to the rear wheels through a six-speed torque converter automatic transmission. The car may arrive in 2025 with a price tag somewhere in the mid-$20,000s.

This development expands on a collaborative sports car rumor that circulated last December, suspiciously absent however were details on the platform, pricing, and an anticipated delivery to market. It fits a recent pattern of Toyota splitting the development of new models with other makes, such as the somewhat notorious joint effort on the GR Supra, or the far better received Toyota GR86 / Subaru BRZ wonder-twins.

Toyota MR2 EV Concept – December 2021

Unfortunately, as pragmatists, this rumor does not align with Toyota’s known plans for its sports car lineup. In 2019, the Supra’s program lead said there isn’t room below the GR86 in Toyota’s “Three Brothers” sports car lineup. Since then, Toyota has muddied the waters on whether a third member (like a rebooted Celica or MR2) is actually coming, or is already here in the form of the GR Yaris or GR Corolla. Unfortunately given global markets and continued supply chain issues, compounded by weak consumer demand for anything other than SUVs and crossovers, means the business case (no matter how much we may want it) for a cheap, mid-engined sports car is economically unappealing at present. 

To us, this sounds more like a Kei car, a JDM toy that is something not destined for western markets. Additionally, at that low of a price point, and with such little horsepower it is hard to see this car as a spiritual successor to the AW11 much less the SW20 MR2. If there is to be a Toyota mid-engined driving renaissance, it’s most likely going to arrive in the form of a much larger, much pricier electric sports car like the one Toyota hinted at last December.