NEWS: Revived Toyota MR2 to be built with Subaru?

Rumors of a Toyota MR2 revival have been swirling around for a while, but that’s nothing new. Separately and more recently, the grapevine’s been buzzing about a mid-engine Subaru. The latest reports from Japan say what’s so obvious and perfect that it jut might be true — Toyota and Subaru are working on a mid-engined sports car together.

Since 2013, ToMoCo head honcho Akio Toyoda and chief sports car engineer Tetsuya Tada has been talking about a “three sports car brothers” lineup within Toyota. When the S-FR concept was revealed in 2015, most pundits, including JNC, presumed it meant a smaller car slotting below the GT86 and a more powerful car like the upcoming Supra above it. But what if that smaller car was mid-engined?

Rumors of a mid-engined Subaru have been circulating since 2016, this year both the Three Brothers and the MR Subie theories got another round at about the same time. And as we reported in April, Toyota and Subaru have already begun working on the next-gen 2.4-liter BRZ/86 together.

What’s more, the car could be a hybrid, which would be a first in the affordable end of the sports market. Response claims it’ll be powered by a 1.6-liter boxer, found on the Japanese-market Crosstrek and Levorg, coupled with an electric motor for a total of 300 PS (296 hp). The report also says it will also sport a VIZIV concept-inspired front end and debut in 2020 or 2021. Time will tell whether the rumor amounts to anything.




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15 Responses to NEWS: Revived Toyota MR2 to be built with Subaru?

  1. Tim says:

    I’m okay with this. It’s not the RX-7 revival I wanted, but I might end up with one in my stable.

  2. BlitzPig says:

    Oh joy…. not.

    Another Subaru engined Toyota. Why does Toyota have this odd infatuation with tractor engines?

    • PigSkinner says:

      Toyota? You mean the folks who invented the Toyoda Model G Automatic Loom? What would they want with Subaru?

      Times change; companies evolve. Way to be hung up in the early 20th century, dude.

    • PigSkin says:

      Toyota? You mean the folks who invented the Toyoda Model G Automatic Loom? What would they want with Subaru?

      Times change; companies evolve. Way to be hung up in the early 20th century, dude.

  3. reiji_tamashii says:

    So Toyota just developed the high tech 168hp 2.0L M20A for the Corolla and they’re not going to use it in the MR2? I’ve been waiting for them to drop that engine in an MR2 or the S-FR and call it a day.

  4. bryan kitsune says:

    Toyota wins LeMans and the WRC manufacturer’s championship…but they still won’t work on their own production sports cars. I don’t get it. I just want a Toyota designed and powered sports/y car. Not a Subaru or BMW (not that I will be able to afford the Supra…but in principle).

    I mean, I bought an FR-S…but I’d much rather it was a proper Toyota with a Toyota engine (with maybe some Yamaha engineering in the head).

    • Ryan says:

      Thats exactly what it is, though… Toyota built the entire chassis and suspension, gearbox, diff, etc, and yamaha helped develop the special heads that are found only in the frs/brz/gt86. The only thing subaru supplied was the shortblock and rotating assembly, and some of the interior. Toyota even tuned the engine for themselves. It is 90% a proper toyota sports car.

  5. Ant says:

    If it’s expected to make 300-odd horsepower it’s probably not going to be at the cheap end of the Toyota sports car food chain then. The S-FR still seems more likely if they want an entry-level car (and Tada has previously suggested the 86 is the middle “brother” with the Supra at the top).

    Not sure I get the Subaru hate though. If we want sports cars at all we’re going to have to compromise on this kind of thing – making dedicated sports car platforms is expensive and relatively fruitless in terms of sales, so manufacturers have to try and share costs somehow. I even wonder whether the fourth-gen MX-5 would have happened were it not for FCA also selling their Fiat and Abarth versions to improve economies of scale on the platform.

    It’s also a little unfair on the Toyota engineers putting their own touch on the car. Given early drives of the Supra suggest it’s much better than the Z4, it’s not like each company has just applied their badge to the same vehicle in that particular case.

  6. BlitzPig says:

    My distaste for Subaru engines stems purely from their lumpy, harsh, unrefined character, and their propensity to mark their spot with lubricant droppings. I also know too many people that purchased WRX cars after owning Hondas and Toyotas and to a man than all say the same thing, it’s nice but it’s not a Honda, or Toyota.

    • Scot says:

      Meanwhile, in the real world, Subaru continues to break sales records for the last 7 years. Month after month, year after year. Somebody is doing something right. How’s it hanging for Honda?

  7. BlitzPig says:

    Yeah, Subie is selling SUVs to women that are afraid to drive if a drop of water is on the pavement, this totally explains their, and everyone else’s sales growth the past few years.

    Look, I’m not looking for arguments here. You cannot argue that Subaru’s engines are as refined and smooth as those made by Toyota and Honda. They simply are not. This is why I didn’t purchase a GT 86. Such a great chassis spoiled by an engine that is decades behind the others in refinement. Note I said refinement, not BHP. Making BHP is easy in the current turbo meta, making refined engines is something altogether different.

    • Ant says:

      Engine refinement in the 86 isn’t that bad. Flat fours are naturally better balanced than inline fours and it’s a pretty free-revving engine. Maybe you’re referring to the noise (something Toyota/Subaru deliberately pipes in, with that car) or some background noises at idle (which don’t actually send vibrations into the car and don’t bother me that much), but I’ve not noticed any refinement issues with the 86, nor the last few Subarus I’ve driven (Forester and Levorg).

      I’m certainly not sure Toyota or Honda are currently any better. I’ve driven FK8 Type Rs a few times and that engine feels nowhere near as smooth as the naturally-aspirated ones used to, and while the last non-86 Toyota I drove was pretty quiet and smooth, it was also a Prius, so you kinda expect that.

      • Satoru says:

        I own a GT86 and I agree with BlitzPig. I really feel that the marvel of a chassis this car has is genuinely spoiled by the Subaru engine. But I would temper this by saying that it’s not really the engine in itself but it’s management that sucks. The stock mappings are crap, causing an awful behavior of the FA20 (torque dip, etc), which is mainly responsible of the “it lacks power” comments we heard ever since the 86 came out. It doesn’t lack power, it’s stock power delivery is crap, period. Throw it a aftermarket manifold and a proper mapping and it becomes how it should have been out of the factory, it’s a genuinely different car. But even with that, Subaru boxer engines remain less refined, very noisy, like sewing machines, which can be surprising when you’re used to other japanese engines. It’s accentuated in the 86 because it has very few sound insulation, and most of the valve train noise comes back in the cabin, even after removing the sound generator. Coming from Mazda BP engines, Toyota 2JZ-GE and Nissan VG30DETT, it took me a few months to accept that boxer units were normally noisier. Notice too that the whole car is build by Subaru in Gunma, every part is stamped Subaru. Toyota came with the basic concept and the direct injection, Subaru did the rest, then Toyota and Tetsuya Tada set up the chassis.

        • Ant says:

          Interesting you mention the Mazda BP – I currently own an NA MX-5, and I’ve had a GT86 to compare it to since November!

          You’re perhaps being a little too kind to the BP and I think a little harsh (ironically) in comparing the flat-four with six-cylinder Toyota and Nissan engines, which will obviously be smoother even given the difference in time period.

          The BP’s a nice enough engine but by modern standards at least, only really refined at idle (when it’s impressively silent… the engine specifically, rather than the noise coming from my aftermarket exhaust…). But it’s far from refined at higher revs, even ignoring the fact that the red line is set lower than the 86’s engine. Honestly, the 8-valve four-cylinder engine in my Peugeot is smoother and freer-revving than the BP.

          I still think there’s a bit of apples and oranges comparison going on here though. To me refinement isn’t just about noise, but vibration and harshness too, and I really don’t think the flat four is too bad in this regard (again, flat fours are inherently better balanced than other four-cylinders).

          I’ll concede that it’s relatively noisy, but that’s more the nature of the car than the engine (as above, the boxers in Foresters and Levorgs I’ve driven recently have been smooth *and* quiet).

          I’d also say that the K20A engine in the EP3 Civic R I drove recently was smoother than the 86’s boxer, so the 86 is certainly no paragon of refinement – but it’s also no better or worse than most current-day Honda and Toyota four-cylinders I’ve driven recently.

          Ultimately this all comes back to I still don’t think it’s such a big deal if Toyota is to develop another car with Subaru. It’s significantly better than it not happening *at all*, which is usually the alternative these days.

  8. BlitzPig says:

    Sound Generator?

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