The mid-engine Toyota MR2 is the only affordable sports car to offer a true six-speed sequential manual transmission (SMT) option, which Toyota added for 2003. A five-speed manual transmission is standard. For 2004, the mid-engine Toyota MR2 Spyder offers a new optional limited-slip differential, which enhances its already world-class handling response, especially for drivers who participate in slalom driving.
In addition, the tan leather trim interior is now available in conjunction with the Absolutely red exterior, making for a stunning look on this roadster.
"The MR2 Spyder is a pure sports car based on a concept of low weight and a racecar-inspired mid-engine configuration,"said Don Esmond, Toyota Division senior vice president and general manager. "At the same time, the MR2 is a well-equipped roadster with true everyday usability and comfort."
The MR2 Spyder has not only proven its mettle as a "budget exotic" sports car, but has also succeeded in attracting more performance-oriented buyers to the Toyota brand.
The model name stems from Mid-engine, Rear-wheel drive and 2 seats. The MR2 appeals to driving enthusiasts of all ages because it fulfills the definition of a no-compromise sports car.
Like the two generations of MR2 models before it, the MR2 Spyder delivers the performance and handling of more expensive sports cars yet with proven Toyota quality and durability. Capable of 0-60 mph performance in slightly over seven seconds, the MR2 Spyder is also easy to own, thanks to low maintenance and fuel costs.
MR2 Spyder puts forth a bold look in front with dual-bulb projector-style headlights and integrated standard foglights. The side air intakes are color-keyed instead of black.
In the rear, the combination lamps with cylindrical turn signals and reversing lights mimic the dual-bulb look of the headlights.
The rear grille garnish combines body-color ribs and mesh to emphasize the midship engine design. The larger oval chrome tailpipe accents the car's performance capability, and a retractable power antenna contributes to the car's clean lines.
Inside, the instrument panel graphics use fine gradations in the gauges for a sophisticated appearance. The heater/air conditioner controls likewise feature similar fine gradations, as well as chrome trim rings. Chrome trim also accents the door speakers and air vents.
Sequential Manual Transmission
The optional Toyota SMT is a true clutchless sequential manual transmission similar in concept and operation to those offered in Ferrari, Maserati and some BMW models. It is not an automatic transmission that merely offers a manual control mode, as seen in performance cars including the Porsche Boxster.
With the Toyota SMT, the driver shifts gears by moving the floorshift to the "+" (upshift) or "-" (downshift) positions. Computer-controlled actuators perform the clutch disengagement/engagement and gearshifts as quickly as a highly experienced driver. The electronic throttle control even reduces torque during upshifts and "blips"the throttle to match engine speed during downshifts. The driver can also shift gears via
steering wheel-mounted buttons.
The SMT provides the driver with the interaction and performance of a manual transmission, while the absence of a clutch pedal makes the car more convenient and comfortable to drive in traffic.
In exotic sports cars, such a transmission can add thousands of dollars to the price of the car. The main difference is that the Toyota SMT does not offer a full automatic mode, keeping the unit both affordable and light (it adds just 20 pounds over the standard five-speed manual transmission).
The MR2 Spyder is powered by the same 1.8-liter twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder engine as in the Celica GT. The engine produces 138 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 125 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 4,400 rpm. Toyota Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) continuously varies intake valve operation to optimize torque at all speeds. As a result, the MR2 provides very responsive everyday performance without requiring high rpm to enjoy sporty driving. An aluminum engine block with an aluminum-alloy cylinder head helps keep powertrain weight low. The MR2 Spyder achieves estimated EPA fuel mileage ratings of 26 mpg city/32 mpg highway with the five-speed manual and 25/33 with the six-speed SMT.
Pure Sports Chassis
A mid-engine layout gives the MR2 Spyder quick, precise steering response because it concentrates the car's largest mass - the powertrain - as close to the car's center as possible. The configuration gives the MR2 Spyder what engineers refer to as a "low polar moment of inertia." That means the MR2 Spyder is less resistant to changes in direction and therefore very responsive to steering input.
An exceptionally stiff unitized body structure and strut-based four-wheel independent suspension give the MR2 Spyder both high-performance cornering ability and a compliant ride. The rack-and-pinion steering system uses an electric-powered hydraulic pump, which saves weight and reduces parasitic drag on the engine. The unit provides excellent responsiveness and feedback with just 2.7 turns lock-to-lock.
A "staggered" wheel and tire setup enhances balance and handling response. The 15 x 6-inch front alloy wheels have 185/55R15 tires, with 16 x 7-inch alloy wheels and 215/45R16 tires in the rear. Four-wheel disc brakes with Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) help to ensure safe, confident braking and fade resistance.
Low vehicle weight does not mean sacrificing comfort in the MR2 Spyder. The combination of bolstered sport seats and a generous 42.2 inches of legroom ensure comfort for pleasure drives and longer trips. The leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob are traditional sports car touches and impart a quality feel to the interior.
The manually operated convertible soft-top folds completely out of sight yet has a glass rear window with defroster. A standard wind deflector that deploys behind the seats helps reduce air buffeting in the cockpit.
There are storage compartments under the front hood and behind the seatbacks. The extensive standard equipment rivals that of more expensive sports cars and includes a 3-in-1 AM-FM/cassette/CD audio system with four speakers, air conditioning, power windows, door locks and exterior mirrors, tilt steering wheel, keyless entry and security system with engine immobilizer. The factory option list includes a limited-slip differential, and tan and black leather-trim interior packages with matching-color convertible tops.
Toyota's 36-month/36,000-mile basic new-vehicle limited warranty applies to all components other than normal wear and maintenance items. Additional 60-month warranties cover the powertrain for 60 months/60,000 miles and corrosion perforation for 60 months with no mileage limitation.