Commute, Toy or Destroy – MR2 vs. MR2 vs. MR2

Commute, Toy or Destroy – MR2 vs. MR2 vs. MR2

We are back with this week’s installment of AutoGuide’s newest, interactive weekly feature ‘Commute, Toy or Destroy’.

Once again, we present a choice of three vehicles. We’re asking you to decide which one you would make your daily driver, which one would be transformed into an autocross terror and which one was a mid-engine mistake.

Remember, that commuter car you must live with every day, all year round. The toy would be only available to you for occasional use, like a local car meet, and the final car is one that should join the Fiero in automotive infamy.

This week we are looking at three generations of Toyota’s mid-engine, compact sports car, the MR2. First there is the initial generation from the 1980’s that featured square styling and an optional supercharged engine. Next, there is the second generation from the 1990s that adopted sexy new curves and an optional turbocharged engine. Finally, there is the last generation MR2, known as the MR2 Spyder in North America, which came in convertible form only. So, what are your choices going to be?

1984-1989 Toyota MR2 (W10)


The first MR2 was a bit of a shock at the time. No one had really expected Toyota to produce a lightweight, sporty, mid-engine two-seat sports car, but the manufacturer did anyway. Power initially came only from a 1.6 L four-cylinder engine. But, in 1987 Toyota slapped a supercharger to this motor to produce 145 hp and made the MR2 a lot faster. Oh course, due to the vehicles mid-engine layout and lightweight, the MR2 handled great.

1990-1999 Toyota MR2 (W20)


Larger and heavier, the second generation MR2 was restyled with seductive, swoopy sheet metal. To help with the increased size and weight, power was bumped up significantly. The base 2.2 L engine made 130 hp while the optional 2.0 L turbocharged unit produced 200 hp. Not bad for a car that still weighed less than 2,800 lbs. Of course, the MR2 was still a superb handling machine.

2000-2007 Toyota MR2 Spyder (W30)


The third generation MR2 went back to basics. It lost a lot of weight, a lot of power, and was priced much lower. Available only as a convertible, the MR2 Spyder could still weigh in less than 2,200 lbs. if optioned correctly. The only engine available for the MR2 Spyder was a 1.8 L four-cylinder making 138 hp. In other markets the MR2 Spyder could be had with trick technology like a hard-top convertible or sequential manual transmission.



  • lewis

    No question: toy Mark 1, commute in non-turbo mark 2 and destroy the bug eyed nerdmobile. Both of the older cars were cool, and the convertible was is and always will be a dorky piece of design work.

  • Ming

    I wish the Toyota made turbo spyder car. Such a disappointing outcome. Bad life karma for them.

  • Harry

    These are all toy cars. Toy all.