Pretty cute coupe

Toy­ota MR2 1990-1999

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - Front Page -

TOY­OTA’S sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion MR2, the SW20, was the pret­ti­est of the lot. It was a cute lit­tle two-door, mid-en­gined, Targa-topped coupe with well-bal­anced pro­por­tions. But it wasn’t just a pretty face. It was a pocket dy­namo on the road. Its mid-en­gined lay­out gave it a bal­ance close to per­fect.

Un­der the rear lid lay a cross-mounted 2.0-litre four-cylin­der en­gine that punched out 117kW and 190Nm, all of which was chan­nelled through a fivespeed man­ual gear­box to the rear wheels.

A 1994 up­date brought the GT and the Bathurst spe­cial mod­els. The en­gine for both boasted 125kW and 186Nm.

In­side you were co­cooned in a tight cock­pit, sit­ting in form-fit­ting sports seats, with ev­ery­thing within easy reach. There isn’t a lot of stor­age space though.

At launch, the coupe came with al­loy wheels, power win­dows, cen­tral lock­ing, rear spoiler, fog lamps, high-mounted stop lamp, and AM/FM stereo sound. A facelift in 1992 brought larger 15-inch al­loys, larger front spoiler, re­vised sus­pen­sion, dif­fer­ent steer­ing wheel, gearshift knob and up­graded sound sys­tem.

From 1994 the Bathurst had al­loy wheels, front and rear spoil­ers, power win­dows and mir­rors, cen­tral lock­ing, cloth trim and cas­sette sound.

The GT was bet­ter equipped. It came with leather, cruise, fog lamps, power steer­ing, re­mote cen­tral lock­ing, and an alarm. CD sound was added in 1995. Air­con­di­tion­ing was an op­tion.

Toy­ota also sold a tur­bocharged model in some over­seas mar­kets. Any here will be grey im­ports rather than lo­cally de­liv­ered cars, so be wary.

Most MR2s are owned by en­thu­si­asts who take care of them, but look for signs of hard driv­ing. There are enough around to be choosy.

It’s im­por­tant to fol­low the Toy­ota ser­vice sched­ule. Toy­ota rec­om­mends reg­u­lar changes of the en­gine coolant, but be care­ful to bleed the sys­tem prop­erly when you do so. Air­locks caused by not bleed­ing the sys­tem cor­rectly will al­most cer­tainly lead to over­heat­ing and en­gine dam­age.

The cam-tim­ing belt should be changed ev­ery 100,000km or five years, but the en­gine is a freespin­ning de­sign, so while a bro­ken belt will leave you stranded by the road­side it won`t cause in­ter­nal dam­age to the en­gine.

The clutch is rel­a­tively heavy. It’s pos­si­ble to get well in ex­cess of 100,000km from the clutch, but hard driv­ing can cut that to 80,000km or so. The gear­box is gen­er­ally sound, but there are re­ports of notchy gear shifts. Us­ing higher-grade oil in the gear­box is the fix most own­ers use.

Tyre wear can be a prob­lem. Front tyres tend to wear the in­side edges more rapidly than the out­side; the rears wear more rapidly on the outer edges than the in­ner.

The fun­da­men­tal safety weapon in a car like the MR2 is the chas­sis. One of its most en­dear­ing at­tributes is its ra­zor-sharp han­dling that gives the driver ev­ery chance of avoid­ing a crash. MAKE: Toy­ota MODEL: MR2 1990-1999 EN­GINE: 2.0L/4-cylin­der base 117kW, 190Nm; spe­cials 125kW, 186Nm ECON­OMY: ex­pect about 8L/100km PRICE: Base coupe, sold be­tween 1990 and 1994, will cost you $7500-$12,000. From 1994 there was the GT coupe, for which you will pay $11,500-$20,000, and the Bathurst spe­cial that will set you back $11,000-$18,000. RAT­ING: 75/100 VER­DICT: Great-looking sports coupe boast­ing bril­liant han­dling and per­for­mance.

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