The MR2 is a two-seat, mid-engine sports car produced and designed by Toyota. The MR2 was sold from 1984 to 2007, after which it was discontinued due to declining sales. The “Spyder” name was applied to all American versions of the third-generation MR2, which was produced from 2000 to 2007. The American MR2 was distinct in that it was a soft-top convertible body style rather than a hardtop. The 2001 MR2 Spyder came with a 1.8L L4 engine that produced 138 horsepower, but can be made more powerful via aftermarket modifications.
1. Replace the Toyota cold-air intake system with a performance aftermarket product. Factory specification cold-air intake systems are relatively restrictive so that they minimize engine noise. An aftermarket cold-air intake system can result in a moderate increase in engine noise, but will also provide a power boost of roughly 8 to 15 horsepower depending on the make and model of the air intake system. Performance aftermarket air intake systems for the MR2 typically cost between $200 and $300 and can be installed at home by someone with a moderate amount of automotive expertise; otherwise, budget another $100 or so for professional installation.
2. Replace the Toyota exhaust system with a performance aftermarket product. As with cold-air intake systems, factory exhaust systems are relatively restrictive to minimize engine noise, as well as CO2 emissions. An aftermarket exhaust system will noticeably increase engine noise and will also cause your MR2 to emit greater amounts of CO2, which may be illegal depending on state regulations. However, performance exhaust systems will boost power from anywhere between 10 to 30 horsepower, and some MR2 owners find the increased engine noise desirable. Aftermarket exhaust system typically cost between $400 and $1,200 and usually require professional installation since access to the underside of the MR2 is needed.
3. Use a digital tuner to customize your MR2’s performance. Digital tuners reprogram the onboard computer and modify the actual performance of the engine. While this has very little effect on unmodified vehicles, it provides a substantial power boost in vehicles that have had aftermarket upgrades such as cold-air intake and exhaust systems installed. Another benefit to using digital tuners is that they have very few risks or drawbacks when implemented correctly, other than a slight increase on engine wear-and-tear. Horsepower gains from a digital tune depend entirely on what aftermarket modifications have been performed on the MR2.