Will Toyota revive MR2 sports car?
Did that headline surprise you?
During a press drive of the A90 Toyota GR Supra in Sportsland Sugo in Miyagi, Japan, we were able to catch up with the man that led the program: Toyota Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada.
Tada-san was the man responsible for building a relationship with BMW to help them engineer the two low-volume cars (Supra and Z4) as a shared program. While many think it's just about saving on costs, it wasn't. If Toyota didn't work with BMW, the Supra would have been launched two years later.
Yes, if Tada hadn't sought out BMW's expertise in front-mid engine, rear wheel drive chassis engineering and turbocharged straight six engines (which Toyota no longer made or had molds for since the 2JZ), the A90 Supra would have been launched in 2021, not 2019.
But we had another idea in the wake of the rennaissance of Toyota's sports car program: what about the MR2?
So we posed this question to the Chief Engineer: "You worked with Subaru to revive the 86, and with BMW to revive the Supra. Who do you want to work with to revive the MR2?"
His reply surprised us: "Porsche!"
Now we may have to take his answer with a grain of salt because it's difficult to be sure whether Tetsuya Tada was actually kidding, but the track record of Toyota does point to the possibility that they could work with another partner for the revival of another great sportscar name.
Toyota ceased production of the MR2 in 2007 after a 23 year run across three generations, and it stands to reason that they could be pursuing a partner with expertise in MR cars.
Porsche has been very successful with mid-engine, rear wheel drive models in the Boxster and the Cayman. Tada-san actually said that the Boxster was the benchmark against which the Supra was actually measured.
It's feasible for Tada to open (or to have already opened?) a dialogue with another German automaker to share the financial and engineering burden of developing a low-volume, mid-engined sportscar like the MR2/MR-S.
Whether Toyota's chief engineer for their sports car programs was pulling our chain or letting us in on the possibility of not just a revival of the mid-engined Toyota, but of his desire to work with Porsche to do it, we'll have to wait to know for sure.
Whichever the case may be, we'd really want to see a new generation MR2 roam the roads again.