The Featherweight Toyota MR2

Get This Affordable Alternative to the Porsche Boxster

March 13, 2019 Cars By

As far as the best bang-for-your-buck mid-engine sports cars go, the Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman are tough to beat. At $56,900, however, the entry-level Porsche is still out of reach for some, but the Toyota MR2, like the one above, is a perfect affordable alternative.

The MR2, which stands for “mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive, two-seater,” made headlines at the 1983 Tokyo Motor Show as the SV-3 concept car, Japan’s first-ever mid-engine car. The MR2 went into production in ’84 and promptly won Car of the Year Japan for 1984-1985.

The little mid-engine car ironically started life as a concept for an economy car, but the design philosophy behind the handling and the lack of weight translated into the ideal sports car. Over 23 years, Toyota built three generations of the MR2, and, going against the natural way of most cars, it gradually lost weight from one generation to the next, ending with the W30 at a scant 2,195 lbs in 2007.

This particular MR2 up for auction is from that last featherweight generation and comes with a 1.8-Liter inline-four engine good for 138 horsepower and 126 lb-ft of torque. Now, this doesn’t sound like much by today’s standards, but considering that the MR2 weighs as much as a first generation Mazda Miata but packs more power and comes with the natural balance of a mid-engined car, it does not lack in entertainment.

If you’re on the market for a seriously fun car, the Porsche Boxster should be high on your list. But, if you don’t want to spend nearly $60,000 to own a German mid-engine sports car, the 2002 Toyota MR2 makes a great Japanese substitute at almost one-tenth the cost.

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Bryan Campbell

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