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.