Mr. Toyoda, please bring back the Toyota MR2 – The Lohdown


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Dear Akio,

Congratulations on your quest to reinvigorate the Lexus and Toyota brands with renewed passion and much needed injections of driving excitement. Since the launch of the Scion FR-S, we have greatly enjoyed the affordable, fun-to-drive approach to a sporty coupe America now known as the Toyota 86.

We also look forward to the return of the iconic Supra. I know you can’t comment much about that, but the time is right for the return of this legend. When the Supra first made its debut, it found its niche between American muscle and expensive European sports cars. Since the Supra’s departure, both segments have made huge strides but none more significant than the Mustang and Camaro nameplates. It will be great to see how Supra challenges these icons because it has built a legend all its own.

Read our comparison of a 1986 Toyota MR2 and 1985 Ferrari 308 GTSi QV right here.

But something is missing. Back when you were working your way up in the family business, Toyota had a troika of sports cars that captured the hearts and minds of generations of automotive enthusiasts. The 86 takes over the spot held by the Celica, and we are thankful for the return of the Supra, but what about the true purist? Isn’t it time for the return of MR2?

Other brands have had success in reviving mid-engine sports cars, primarily as halo vehicles. Honda has revived the NSX globally, and Ford is bringing back the GT as we speak. All signs point to Chevrolet expanding Corvette to include a mid-engine super sports variant to challenge both. And of course, there are the traditional mid-engine super- and hypercar offerings from Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Pagani, and Koenigsegg. I’m not suggesting Toyota follow suit because your company has always had great success by doing things its own way.

Last year, Toyota launched a formidable, near-term strategy of rolling out 37 variants of 19 models by 2021, all underpinned by Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA). Plus, pursuing the joy of cars while realizing a strong commitment to the environment via continued development of hybrid and fuel cell technology is a laudable dual-pronged approach every thoughtful car guy can appreciate.

In fact, much of your plan sounds like it could be perfectly encapsulated in a mid-engine, rear-wheel drive, two-seater. The foundation of TNGA is built on concepts including a lightweight, compact, low center of gravity, while the powertrain presentations by your senior engineers Kishi and Mizushima are rife with the kind of goals that get real car enthusiasts excited: Ideas such as linear and highly responsive driving and pursuing a driving experience that evokes a sense of wanting to keep driving. The one that really stood out to me is achieving performance exactly as the driver intends…

If your product plan does not already include a lightweight, rear-drive, two-seater powered by one of Toyota’s new, highly efficient, direct-injection Driving Force engines (displacing, say, 1.6 or 1.8 liters) mounted behind the driver, why couldn’t it be added? This MR2 would be for the purest of the pure driving enthusiasts, with a standard six-speed, close-ratio stick shift and the option of one of your new Direct Shift automatic transmissions. Too costly? Perhaps spread costs to include a hybrid Lexus variant complete with F Sport trim.

Your five-year plan includes introducing nine engines in 17 variations, four transmissions in 10 variations, and six hybrid systems in 10 variations by 2021. Surely there is room for a mid-ship runabout two-seater that embodies Toyota’s goals of environmental responsibility and driving joy or an MR2 that could be spiritually and technologically linked to Toyota’s World Endurance Championship campaign and stunning TS050 LMP1 hybrid racer?

With Scion now gone, maybe there is room to launch this vehicle under a global performance banner, perhaps the GAZOO Racing brand your alter ego Morizo has been so great at promoting?
Please consider it. I know many passionate enthusiasts in America have fond memories of the three generations of MR2 and would love to see a fourth.


Ed Loh

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