"The Celica and MR2 have been a favorite amongst sports car enthusiasts since their introductions in the U.S.," said Don Esmond, senior vice president and general manager of the Toyota Division. "The past few years, however, have been very challenging for both Celica and MR2 as competition in a segment where 'what's new' dominates and we continue to add more exciting and youthful products to the lineup such as the Matrix and Corolla XRS, Solara sports coupe and recently the Scion xA, xB and tC."
Currently in its seventh generation, the Celica was first introduced in the U.S. in 1971 and was influential in establishing the sporty subcompact segment. Since that time it has been named Motor Trend's "Import Car of the Year," one of Car and Driver's "Ten Best Cars," and the "Most Reliable Sporty Car" by Consumer Reports.
Based on the EX-1 "Car of the Future" concept vehicle, its styling was revolutionary when it first hit the market. The Celica was originally designed for consumers who were young at heart and wanted something more than just simple transportation.
Toyota introduced the popular mid-engine, rear-wheel drive two-seater "Mr. Two" in 1985. The MR2 was on the market for ten years when production went on hiatus until 2000 when the third generation was introduced. The MR2 was developed to offer consumers exotic car design and excitement without the exotic car price. Originally powered by Toyota's "sweet sixteen" 16-valve dual-overhead cam 1.6-liter engine, a supercharged version was added in 1988. A turbocharged version went on sale in 1991 prompting Car and Driver magazine to proclaim the MR2 Turbo as an exotic car for the rest of us."
The current MR2 Spyder is the first U.S.-market Toyota to offer a true clutchless, six-speed sequential manual transmission. The MR2 has not only proven its mettle as a "budget exotic" sports car, but succeeded in attracting performance-oriented buyers to the Toyota brand.