Toyota MR2 was manufactured and sold by Central Motors, part of Toyota Motor Corporation between 1984 and 2007. It is a two-seat, mid- mounted engine, rear-wheel drive sports car. MR2 has seen three generations since its first appearance in 1982.
The first generation MR2 remained in production from 1984 to 1989 and came with much angular and origami-like line styling. The second generation MR2 was first introduced in 1990 and remained in production until 1999. The styling of second generation MR2 was pretty much like the Ferrari sports car. The third and the last generation of MR2 was introduced in 2000 and remained in production until 2007. The third generation MR2 was similar to the Porsche Boxster. The third generation MR2 was comparatively smaller than its previous versions, though offered with much economical powerplant with compromising its sportier style and handling. Although, all the three generations are quite different from each other, some of the basic elements are common in each of them including, McPherson strut front and rear suspensions and transverse-mounted inline-four engines.
1976 is thought to be the turning point for the production of MR2 as Toyota launched a project with an aim to design a car that would be fun to drive and that too with a decent fuel economy. At the beginning, there were no intentions to design a sports car. In 1979, the Akio Yoshida, a senior member at Toyota testing department started working on the design by evaluating several alternatives for engine placement and drive method. Finally, the project members agreed on placing the engine transversely in the middle of the car. In 1981, the first prototype was built as SA-X. After this, several different prototypes were tested ardently in Japan and California. The company hired the former Formula One driver Dan Gurney to test the car on actual race circuit in Willow Springs.
In October 1983, the company revealed its SV-3 concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show. This concept car received a great appreciation from the audience as well as press bodies. Eventually, it was announced that the car will be launched in Japanese market under the name MR2 in the second quarter of 1984. The MR2 refers to “midship runabout two-seater”. It became the first mass-produced mid-mounted engine car produced by Japanese automaker. In France, the name of the sports car was shortened to MR because of alikeness in pronunciation of MR2 with the French “merde”.