PH buying guide: Toyota MR2


The third generation of Toyota MR2 that arrived in 2000 was the ideal car to take on the Mazda MX-5 and MGF, particularly as it was the first MR2 to have a fully folding soft-top. It mixed many of the attributes of both of these cars while retaining a unique appeal, although the Toyota perhaps divided the opinions of contemporary road tests and buyers more than its competitors.

Sticking with the mid-engined layout of previous MR2s, the third generation W30 model differed slightly by having its engine turned so the exhaust manifold was to the rear of the engine bay. It also did away with the rear luggage compartment, making this model more focused on driving fun than practicality. This more than anything was what split opinions on the MR2 as many were happy to enjoy the purity of the MR2's driving experience, while others deemed it too compromised.

Actually there IS an alternative to an MX-5!
Actually there IS an alternative to an MX-5!
Weighing in at just 975kg, only a Lotus Elise could claim to be lighter in the affordable roadster market. This meant the MR2 didn't need a hugely powerful engine to deliver good, though not outright fast, performance. The 140hp 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol motor could muster 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds, though some contemporary road tests saw 0-60mph times as low as 6.8 seconds, and a top speed of 130mph. Another benefit of the lightweight and relatively mild power output was 38.2mpg average fuel consumption and many owners report this is a very realistic figure in everyday driving.

Toyota didn't need to change the MR2 greatly during its production life, which came to an end in 2006. The most significant were the addition of a six-speed gearbox and alterations to the engine to prevent the problems experienced by many early owners with disintegrating pre-cats that ruin the engine. For this reason, the post-facelift cars from late 2002 onwards are generally considered the most desirable. Take heed - though an early MR2 for around £1,600 can look like a bargain it can also be on the verge of some expensive repairs. Expect to pay from £2,500 for a facelifted car and all the way to around £7,500 for a late model, low miles example.


Owner's view
"I found the car to be really great fun and one of the nicest handling cars I have owned, and I have owned a few. Mine was low mileage and in mint condition so I never experienced any problems: the engine, six-speed gearbox, handling and driving position were faultless. The roof was easy to raise and lower too."
Martin Roberts


Buying guide contents:
Introduction
Powertrain
Rolling Chassis
Body
Interior
Search for Toyota MR2s in the PH classifieds

P.H. O'meter

Join the PH rating wars with your marks out of 10 for the article (Your ratings will be shown in your profile if you have one!)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Rate this article

Comments (137) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Pulse 11 Dec 2013

    HemiCommander said:
    Righto thanks, do you remember what tyres it had on and what the service history was like? If its's leaking coolant that's not great but cheap and easy to fix assuming it's not a head gasket problem and could be a good bargaining point blabla.
    Sorry, forgot to reply!

    Brand new tyres on the front (can't remember the make), and pretty new Michelins on the back. It's had about £1500 spent recently on it, including new rear subframe, and some suspension bits. Looked very promising on that front.

    Service history was good, too. It did recently go 18 months and about 18000 miles without a service though.

    The car's bonnet was a different colour to the rest of the car, but that may just be how it is. Lots of dodgy touch-up pen moments across the car, but not too horrendous given the mileage and age.

    Drove pretty well, though I had a very limited test drive.

    The interior was in good nick. A few marks here and there, but nothing major.

    Barely any receipts for the stamped services, but given the cheapness of where the services had been undertaken, I'm not all that surprised. I don't think they were proper Toyota service standards, personally.

    Hope that helps!

  • HemiCommander 09 Dec 2013

    Pulse said:
    Well, it was a pretty nice car, but one little issue... It had barely any coolant left! Way below the 'min' mark, which is a shame. The rest of it was pretty good!
    Righto thanks, do you remember what tyres it had on and what the service history was like? If its's leaking coolant that's not great but cheap and easy to fix assuming it's not a head gasket problem and could be a good bargaining point blabla.

  • Pulse 09 Dec 2013

    G20 said:
    Will do, although I imagine you will get one before I make my mind up.

    Seems to be a really hard car to think about replacing. E46 M3/350Z are both on the shortlist.
    Quite likely! When I get an idea in my head, I just want it right now! E46 M3 was on my list too, funnily enough...

  • Pulse 09 Dec 2013

    G20 said:
    Will do, although I imagine you will get one before I make my mind up.

    Seems to be a really hard car to think about replacing. E46 M3/350Z are both on the shortlist.
    Quite likely! When I get an idea in my head, I just want it right now! E46 M3 was on my list too, funnily enough...

  • Pulse 09 Dec 2013

    HemiCommander said:
    The price is a little strong but I would prefer one with cloth seats and no AC (I'm odd like that). If you go see it then tell us what you thought and if you buy it we need pictures smile.
    Well, it was a pretty nice car, but one little issue... It had barely any coolant left! Way below the 'min' mark, which is a shame. The rest of it was pretty good!

View all comments in the forums Make a comment