2002 Toyota MR2 Spyder 1.8
A mid-engine alternative to Miata.
Nothing went wrong in over 37000 miles of driving. The Spyder has the same 1zz engine as the Corolla so you would expect it to be reliable. Went through 2 sets of tires which would be too much on a sedan or SUV, but on a sporty car going through tires is to be expected. At times I was rather hard on the car by accelerating fast, winding out the gears, hitting the rev limiter and breaking hard and it held up great.
I drove that car from coast to coast two times and it was a blast! 32 MPG on the highway with the 5 speed.
The natural thing is to compare the Spyder to the Miata. Since I also owned a 1996 Miata I will offer some of my observations of both. The Spyder handled well, however probably not better than the Miata, but it was close. Beware of pushing the car too hard as you might experience some snap over steer, which can be common in mid engined cars. A couple times the car would suffer from front end push when I tried to cut the wheel too fast. The tires couldn't grip and the front end continued going straight while the steering wheel was turned. Maybe it was more of my driving skills or worn tires than the fault of the car or the nature of a mid engined car, but it was scary. Acceleration and breaking were close to Miata as well. In my opinion, the Spyder had the Miata on looks though. Overall the Miata felt like a better overall performing car, but they are very close.
Had an accident with the Spyder. I hit a big deer. It hit the driver side fender, bounced into the windshield then bounced over the car. Completely crushed the fender and hood and shattered the windshield in front of my face. Scared me like never before, but the car held up and protected me. However after it was repaired, there some squeaks from the cowl area that weren't there before. The body shop probably didn't properly install the windshield. A few months later I traded it in because it just wasn't the same. But I still miss that car sometimes.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 13th July, 2008
The 'snap oversteer' that people refer to is typically driver error. Brake in a corner or lift off, the weight goes forward, the rear goes light - and you are in trouble!
Best thing you can do for ANY rear wheel drive vehicle is take it to a track and learn your (and the car's) limitations.
The earlier MR2 Turbo's were tarred with the snap oversteer brush, and this may have occurred due to the higher speed carried into corners by the turbo car - the driver panics halfway through, lifts off (or worse hits the brakes) and... hello hedge.
This perception seems to have stuck with the Spyder.
But don't blame the car!