First, there was the Toyobaru (now the 86, RIP Scion). A pure-of-heart–if underpowered–love letter to driving that showed a human heart still beat somewhere in Toyota. Then we learned that the new Supra we were promised years ago would happen, just in time to play star car in Fast & Furious 10.
Now, a quote from Toyota engineer Tetsuya Tada has got the media declaring it’s 1993 again. Tada said the brand hopes to have the “three brothers” in place as soon as possible. Promising stuff, but don’t go digging out your parachute pants just yet.
Toyota has shown interest in bringing back the MR2 before, most recently in 2011 with the hybrid-sports concept. That car followed a similar recipe to the 3rd-gen MR with more power thanks to a hybrid drivetrain. It was also proposed before the existence of the 86.
If you’ve missed Toyota’s recent 86 ads, they’re all about how few cars Toyota is making. Shocked? You shouldn’t be. Toyota didn’t become the world’s most profitable automaker by accident, selling sports cars is no way to get ahead.
Whatever the new MR2 is, it won’t be positioned to compete with the 86, and there’s not enough room for another model between the 86 and upcoming Supra in four-cylinder trim. That leaves the ultra compact kei car segment for the MR’s successor.
SUCCESSOR IN SPIRIT. NOT PARTICULARLY SPIRITED
Not that there’s anything particularly wrong with kei cars. Toyota has already expressed interest in positioning the MR as a hybrid rival to Honda’s CR-Z, and it could potentially also do battle with the popular S660. However stateside enthusiasts may be aware that the S660, despite popular demand, has yet to bow in US markets, and there’s no promise the MR will.
In 2015, Toyota introduced the S-FR concept at the Tokyo motor show, and this could be our best indication of what the third brother might actually look like. It’s not actually a mid-engined car in this guise, and would probably be easily outpaced on a track by several of its heavier-breathing predecessors.
Does it make a viable miata competitor? Possibly, the 2015 S-FR used a 130-horsepower engine, and weighed about as much as a wet T-shirt, so with the addition of an electric motor, it might just be fun to fling around a track, or more realistically the nearest backroad.
Just don’t expect to go chasing down Boxsters and Alpines anytime soon. Wait, those aren’t coming stateside either…