The 2001 Toyota MR2 Spyder is a mid-engined sporty roadster from the Japanese automaker. The MR2 Spyder is the third-generation MR2 car, having made its debut in the previous model year. The car keeps to the essential MR2 design achievements of light weight and neutral handling. While the car shares its drivetrain layout and some styling elements with the Porsche Boxster, the MR2 was available for half the price. Base MSRP for the only trim level offered came to $23,585.
The third-generation MR2’s engine is efficient and peppy, if not overly powerful for a car in the sport roadster market. Unlike the first and second-generation cars’ supercharged and turbocharged engines, the Spyder was only available with a naturally aspirated engine. The 1.8-liter four-cylinder has dual overhead cams, 16 valves and Toyota’s VVT-i variable valve timing system. Compression ratio comes in at an even 10-to-1, with bore and stroke of 3.10-by-3.60 inches. This engine is shared with the base model Toyota Celica from the same model year. Power output measures 138 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 125 foot-pounds of torque at 4,400 rpm. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 25 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.
Drivetrain and Chassis
With its compact engine mounted behind the driver but in front of the rear axle, the MR2’s powertrain configuration is one usually reserved for exotic sports cars. The sole transmission option for 2001 was a five-speed conventional manual, though a sequential manual was added in later model years. The roadster’s fully-independent suspension system uses MacPherson struts and stabilizer bars front and rear. As for braking power, four-wheel ventilated disc brakes with standard anti-lock functionality bring the light car to quick stops when needed.
Exterior and Interior
With its prominent side ducts and slatted rear engine cover, the MR2 makes its performance intentions clear. Its overall footprint is more like the first-generation car from the 1980s. Exterior dimensions measure 153 inches long, 66.7 inches wide and 48.2 inches tall. The car’s wheelbase stands at 96.5 inches, rather long relative to the car’s short total length. Curb weight is 2195 pounds, making the car one of the lightest on the market and the lightest of all three MR2 generations. Inside is a relatively spartan interior using a monospec configuration almost devoid of dealer-installed options. The car’s top must be manually raised and lowered, though this can be achieved while in the driver’s seat.