The Toyota MR2 MK3 was a break-away from what came before. The first and second generation Midship-Runabout 2-seater although available with T-bar roofs, were very much coupes, while the third generation followed a renewed interest in roadsters. Unusually it was smaller and lighter than the previous model, while the handling was much improved. Known as the MR-S in Japan and MR2 Spyder in the US, the MK3 took the idea of creating an uncompromising yet affordable driving machine from stock components and a mass produced chassis. As with the Mazda MX-5, the designers looked to classic British sports cars for influence but the end result was a rather different car. The 1.8-litre engine is positioned behind the driver but in front of the rear wheels to provide a perfectly balanced chassis that has go-kart-like handling. The minimal nature of the car means that the low power output is ample for fun twisty-backroad driving.
The MR2 Roadster sits within the marketplace as a budget alternative to a Lotus Elise and a more finely balanced, if a little less forgiving, chassis than the more practical Mazda MX-5.
The Mid-engined Toyota MR2 Roadster ended production with a final edition model. The TF300 is a special edition with imports to the UK limited to 300 cars. Each car was built to order and features the production number stitched into the headrests and a certificate of authenticity signed by the Chairman of Toyota GB. The TF300 also features a unique leather and Alcantara interior and stainless steel twin sports exhaust pipes.
The MR2 faced tough competition and although a fun car to drive it lacked any luggage space to speak of, but still sold in reasonable numbers. As a used buy, it offers good value and Toyota’s renowned reliability record.
The Mr2 Mk3 is a very precise driving instrument. Its poise, ride, and handling is truly addictive. I purchased my car, a 2002 model, for £2100. Never has so much fun been purchased for so little money!
6 months latter I blew up the engine pulling 5000 revs in 3rd gear. It was a mighty explosion, you could see through the engine afterwards. The car was beyond commercial repair but so hooked was I that I paid out £3700 and put a 2005 fully refurbished motor in it with new clutch, cats, and starter motor (It got sheared off when the engine catastrophe occurred. The car has since had new shocks and a new hood (another £1000.)
Tyre choice and pressures are very important on this car. I fitted new Falkens as they ride and grip well in all conditions. The Mk3 is very slide-able in the wet, which is enormous fun.
I am a 60 something Managing Director with 3 other cars all less than 3 years old. The 13 year old Mr2 is my daily drive of choice. The car feels and drives similarly to a 1970’s Porsche 911. If you want to drive one of those today you’ll have to find circa £100k. No electronic control gizmo’s, the Mk3 is an ‘analogue’ car pure and simple. It is a gas to drive on rural roads and motorways do not embarrass it either.
I have, for an outrageous outlay of £6000 a 2002 Mr2 Mk3 that is a minter. I will drive and drive it until either I or the car drops dead. Two thirds of a Boxster for one quarter of the money. Buy one!
Oh and don’t try to go anywhere overnight. There’s no luggage space
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