Mods and Consequences
Toyota MR2 MkI
‘If you’re slightly unhinged you can go all the way and t a Lexus V6’
How times change. Many said that the Toyota MR2 was the perfect sports car when it was launched in 1984, citing its perfect balance, great feedback, decent performance and sublime handling. The idea of it needing any upgrades, then, would have seemed faintly ridiculous.
But with hot hatches now routinely packing a 250bhp punch, some owners are beginning to think that the MR2’s standard 132bhp is rather anaemic. The 1.6-litre twin-cam four-pot is sweet and smooth, but many owners crave more power. And the good news is that there are lots of ways of achieving this. Toyota did a pretty good job with the MR2’s camshaft and filtration so rather than go for small tweaks that don’t produce significant results, engine swaps are definitely the way to go. This might sound radical but it needn’t be.
The standard engine – dubbed 4AGE – can be swapped for a 2ZZGE VVT-i (variable valve timing injection) unit as found in the Celica 190. As free-revving as the original powerplant and no heavier, it produces 190bhp in standard form and can be easily upgraded. The turbocharged 3S- GTE engine from an MR2 MkII can also be transplanted; tuned to give a reliable 300bhp, this provides a power to weight ratio of 275bhp per ton or so.
If you’re slightly unhinged you can go all the way and fit a Lexus V6 (1MZ in VVTi or non-VVTi forms). Woodsport will even do the work for you for around £3500, or you can have a supercharged version of this engine for around £6000. It entails cutting the engine bay to make everything fit so it’s definitely a non-reversible mod, but if you want something a bit crazy then look no further. It’s also possible to fit the 2GR V6 that Lotus uses for its Evora. It’s also in the Lexus RX and lots of American-spec Toyotas; take this route and you’ll invariably have to import an engine from the US.
Whatever you do, make sure that you sort the chassis before tackling the engine; the brakes, wheels and suspension all need to be overhauled.