13 January 2020

More than an old car #129: Toyota MR2

People may associate Japanese cars with boring family vehicles, and while true to a certain extent, there are exciting cars such as this 1986 Toyota MR2 AW11 that don't get the love they deserve!

The MR2 started out initially as a design project, with the goal of a car that would be enjoyable to drive and yet provide good economy. Much work was done to determine the location of the engine, which eventually ended up in a mid-transverse placement in the SA-X concept vehicle. At that time, it was the first mid-engined car made by Toyota. It was later designed to be a sports car, which eventually debuted at the 1983 Tokyo Motor Show. Its name stands for either 'mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-seater' or "mid-ship, run-about, 2-seater'. Even the logo used was a bird of prey that formed the words 'AW'.

The suspension and handling of the car was designed by Toyota, with the help of Lotus engineering. As a result, the final product was easy to drive and provided much fun, thanks to the high-revving engine. Although the styling was somewhat bulky and abrupt, the good handling and smooth transmission made up for the shortcomings.

The W10 generation underwent 2 facelifts for both interior and exterior, such as including full-length side skirts and an additional brake light. It was available in 2 engine types, but units in Singapore were powered by a 1587 cc 4A-GE i4 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 200 km/h with an acceleration of 8.1 seconds [0-100 km/h]. It was 3950 mm long and weighed 1035 kg.

Production of the AW10 generation ended in 1989 with 163,845 units made, where it was succeeded by the SW20 generation. The AW11 model was first sold in Singapore in 1985 by Borneo Motors, where it retailed for S$52,521 [S$97,236 in today's money]. This is one of less than 5 units remaining here surprisingly, even though it may not look like a 'rare' car at first glance. There is a certain character around this car: despite its blocky understated look, it is still capable of providing sheer driving pleasure for the driver. One is more likely to find them at events, and it is still nice to know that such classics are still around!

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