Among baby convertible sports cars, it’s usually the Mazda Miata, Honda S2000, and alike the first-gen Audi TT that tend to get all the love. Cast abreast like an automotive reject, though, is the third-generation Toyota MR2 Spyder, and—after accepting apprenticed one for a month—I’ve absitively that this is aloof unfair. Here’s why.
Over the accomplished month, I’ve been blockage in Nürnberg, Germany, commuting 15 afar one way to Erlangen (to fix my alarming agent Chrysler minivan) in my acquaintance Andreas’ blooming Toyota MR2 Spyder. It’s a apparatus that I’ve developed acutely addicted of not aloof because of its administration prowess, but because of its hasty practicality.
The little blooming frog I’ve been aerodynamics about 30 afar a day has accurate itself affably usable, abnormally for a convertible its size. I anticipation daily-driving this car would get tiring, but no, it’s been awesome. Aloof apparent awesome.
Okay, so I’ll activate by acclamation one of the better complaints about the MR2 Spyder: There isn’t bags of accumulator space. But it’s not absolutely that bad; if two bodies went on a weekend break and arranged efficiently, they could accomplish this car work. I was by myself the added day, and I managed to boost a big check-in bag and a haversack on the passenger’s side:
In the Midship Runabout 2-seater’s frunk, I blimp four caster hubs and two shock absorbers:
And afresh abaft the advanced seats there was alike added room. Calmly abundant for two baby backpacks:
So the accumulator amplitude is aloof adequate, but there’s still affluence that makes this car practical: namely, the car’s automated simplicity.
There’s absolutely not a accomplished lot that can go angrily amiss with the MR2. Sure, some archetypal years are decumbent to an affair involving bankrupt agitator actuality ingested into the agent through the bankrupt gas recirculation system, but still, what admiral the third-gen MR2 is a adaptation of the 1ZZ 1.8-liter four-cylinder agent begin in your average, accustomed Toyota Corolla of the era. The C-family five-speed chiral manual anchored to that motor is additionally agnate to the Corolla’s.
This is a acceptable thing; these are allegiant components, acceptation you should apprehend to be able to drive an MR2 day in and day out for abounding years, raking up 200,000 afar on the aboriginal drivetrain if you booty appropriate affliction of the vehicle. But alike if you don’t booty acceptable affliction of the MR2, and you accept to antecedent a new manual or clean the old one (as the antecedent buyer of Andreas’s car did), genitalia are abounding and cheap.
On top of its simplicity, the MR2 I was active has auto captivated in tires with appealing alpine sidewalls, and the vehicle’s arena approval isn’t bad, either. This, accumulated with a adequately abbreviate sub-13-foot all-embracing breadth agency action into bound parking spots that crave active assimilate curbs is no affair at all.
Not to mention, at about 30 MPG, ammunition abridgement is decent, too, which is acceptable accustomed the $5-per-gallon ammunition costs actuality in Germany.
So what we accept in the MR2 Spyder is a practical, reliable, efficient, and easy-to-maintain mid-engine sports car, and while it’s not decidedly able at ~140 horsepower, the car alone weighs aloof over a ton, and with the agent abaft the driver? Well, that brings me to my abutting point.
The MR2 isn’t about power, it’s about Fahrvergnügen, a chat that you could altercate belongs to Volkswagen, but look, I’m in Germany and this is a absurd little mid-engine sports car. This adorable MR2 deserves the appellation “Fahrvergnügen” for aloof this one article, I think. [Wolfsburg badge knocks on door].
The 190,000 mile car I’m active (with an 80,000 mile backup engine—and yes, I apprehend I aloof negated one of my capital credibility by pointing out that this car has a backup agent and transmission! But aloof assurance me; they can be reliable little cars.) has Koni “Sport Kit” adjustable dampers with 30mm blurred springs and Yokohama semi-slick tires that are a tad bit added than banal up front. Otherwise, the car is as it came from the branch in Japan.
Ride affection is absolutely appropriate alike with the aftermarket springs and dampers, but what affairs is the grip; there’s lots of it. With the semi-slick tires, throwing this blooming lidless two-seater about turns yields centripetal armament that will accelerate the caster bearings and shocks you accept in the frunk bouncing about in a frenzy. But admitting the anarchic abeyance movement in the burden area, the abeyance movement area it matters—under the car, anchored to the unibody—is composed. The car leans a bit, but it holds assimilate the pavement aloof as able-bodied as the decently-bolstered bolt seats (surrounded by a rather simple, but well-laid-out interior) authority the driver.
I’ve alone gotten abutting to the crabbed absorption banned maybe already or twice. And while the internet is abounding with altercation of the car’s addiction to snap-oversteer, the Blooming Machine’s appendage absolutely stepped out in a adequately anticipated address back I took it conceivably a bit too bound through a few roundabouts and assimilate some Autobahn on-ramps. I apperceive if I collection a bit harder, things could get wild, but this is my acquaintance Andreas’ car, and friendships are added important than acceptable my age-old admiration to do impaired being with machinery.
But that’s okay. You don’t accept to be at the absolute to accept fun with the MR2. The naturally-aspirated agent feels able abundant accustomed the car’s ablaze weight, and it’s acknowledging and has no agitation revving over 4,000 RPM all day. It doesn’t complete amazing, with its aerial pitch, but it’s fun to choke out all the same.
More importantly, we accept to allocution about the shifter. It is fantastic. The throws are not too long, and not too short. They’re notchy, but in the best of ways, and the clamp offers the optimal akin of acerbity and travel. I would change absolutely annihilation about the car’s five-speed transmission, because it makes active the car fun in about all conditions, alike burghal driving.
I don’t anticipate the electrohydraulic ability council is the best satisfying, and again, the car is absolutely not fast, but amid the accomplished shifter, the bashful but fun engine, the absurdly ablaze barrier weight that—along with the multilink rear abeyance and advanced MacPherson strut setup—yields a hell of a lot of fun in the corners, and the convertible top that unlatches calmly (see above—yes, that’s basically the aforementioned as an old Miata latch), the MR2 proves itself to be aloof authentic automotive joy.
Okay, so it’s an alone modestly-quick sports convertible with a Corolla drivetrain that doesn’t absolutely complete all that exciting. What’s the big deal? The big accord is the price.
My acquaintance Andreas snagged his alarming blooming mid-engine convertible for 2,500 Euros, or about three admirable in Americurrency. That’s a absurd accord for a agent that you can circadian drive, cruise in on brilliant days, and batter about a racetrack.
Admittedly, Andreas is a adept negotiator, so his was the cheapest arrangement around, and it appears these ability be be that arrangement in the U.S. anymore (really nice ones assume to be listed at about $6,000 in the U.S.), but for a agent this able and fun?
The MR2 Spyder is still account it.
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