Toyota MR2 revival confirmed? Not so fast
Rumours have emerged of a potentially “confirmed” return of the Toyota MR2. But further investigation suggests it’s too early to get your hopes up.
New reports have emerged to suggest the iconic mid-engined Toyota MR2 sports car is on the verge of a comeback – but the latest rumour is not all that it seems at first glance.
Uncovered over the weekend, a new page on Toyota Australia’s website for service and repair manuals – used to help official and independent repairers fix Toyota vehicles – lists what’s described as an “MR2 New Air-Conditioner Kit”, published in late June 2022.
While attempting to view the attached dealer “service bulletin” results in an error message, the internet has been lit alight with speculation a new MR2 could be in development, particularly the inclusion of “new” on the webpage.
Further fuelling speculation are claims the Toyota service website does not contain listings for vehicles older than about 10 cars – based on quick searches on the website by US YouTuber Kirk Kreifels, who discovered the page, and publications including Motor1.
However, digging deeper – using a dropdown search filter for specific vehicle models – reveals a plethora of listings for older Toyota cars not sold new for two decades, including the 1990s Starlet and Echo hatchbacks, and the MR2.
Selecting the MR2 from the list reveals eight separate service documents, all filed within in the last six weeks, covering everything from the air conditioning unit, to the transmission and engine immobiliser.
While the dates on these listings suggest they are new content, clicking on the documents attached to one filed on the same day as the “MR2 New Air-Conditioner Kit” mentioned above reveals it was actually first issued in April 2006, some 16 years ago.
It refers to diagnosing issues specific to the third-generation ‘W30’ MR2, sold between 1999 and 2007 – rather than a brand-new, 2022-onwards model.
Another bulletin covers a “six-speed sequential manual transaxle” – the signature transmission of the third-generation MR2, and a gearbox type that’s fallen well out of fashion in 2022, so is highly unlikely to see in a newly-released sports car.
While the so-called “MR2 New Air-Conditioner Kit” appears highly unlikely to be destined for a new model, it’s worth noting Toyota has begun reproducing new parts for older iconic models, to help owners keep their classics on the road.
This program is currently limited to the 1986-93 third- and 1993-2002 fourth-generation Supra sports cars, 1960-84 LandCruiser 40 Series, mid-1980s Corolla ‘AE86’ coupe, and 1960s 2000GT sports car – however it could expand to the MR2 in future.
Rumours of a revival of the Toyota MR2 have been in the media since the day the last MR2 was built in 2007, with reports ranging from a city-sized hybrid, to wild, unsubstantiated claims of a 300kW V6 hybrid possibly developed with Lotus or Porsche.
Toyota itself has come closest to a new MR2 with two recent concept cars: the S-FR of 2015 – though it was front-engined, rather than mid-engined – and last year’s Sports EV, an electric car with proportions reminiscent of old MR2s.
The latest rumours of a new MR2 production car out of Japan – via reputable magazine Best Car– suggest it could be a joint venture between Toyota, its small-car subsidiary Daihatsu, and another small-car maker it owns a portion of, Suzuki.
Development is reportedly being led by Toyota, with the three companies’ vehicles to share many parts under the skin to save costs – but wear unique bodywork to fit each brand’s showroom line-up.
Power would reportedly come from Suzuki’s 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine, possibly with a mild-hybrid system – though the Suzuki Swift Sport’s 1.4-litre turbo engine may be added to create a Toyota GR-branded performance version.
According to Best Car, the new project incorporates the front suspension from a Toyota Yaris, weight reduction technology from Suzuki’s cars, and a Daihatsu’s “resin outer panel” body technology that’s said to make cars lighter and cheaper to build.
However, this report is yet to be confirmed by any of the three companies – and if it proves accurate, would not be expected in Japanese showrooms until 2025. Whether it would come to Australia is unclear.
A return of the MR2 would revive Toyota’s ‘three brothers’ sports car strategy of the 1990s: the mid-engined, four-cylinder MR2, the front-engined, six-cylinder Supra, and the front-engined, four-cylinder Celica (or its modern rear-wheel-drive equivalent, the GR86).