I've always wanted a Mk1 MR2 so was happy with my purchase. I knew it would not be as quick as previous cars, I've had a fair few 6 cylinder BM's including the E30 325i, E36 325i and the E28 M535, all fast in a straight line, but a handful in the twisty stuff.
The MR2 in contrast is the best balanced car I have ever driven. Mid engine and rear wheel drive results in a very responsive drive, you can really push the car into any corner and it grips and grips some more, it generally tends to understeer before it oversteers, which is nice and predictable as I like it, buy an old BM if you like going backwards, I've tried it a few times and didn't think much of it.
The MR2 is slightly underpowered, but not by much, too much BHP would effect the handling, but I still think another 20bhp would be useful, although 120bhp from a 1.6 is respectable. Totoya did produce a supercharged version which had the extra BHP and I imagine that is an almost perfect sports car.
The brakes on the MR2 are also strong, with disks all around, but generally its accepted that most need new rear calipers by now which seem to be a weakness, along with the rear arches which suffer from rust.
The engine is strong and likes to be reved, I've done approx 10,000 miles in mine since purchase with no reliability problems. which isn't bad for a 1.6 with 150,000 on the clock.
The T bar is nice on sunny days, as it can be removed so you can appreciate open top driving.
The car is also good on fuel due to its light weight and small engine, average 30-35 mpg.
There is even a boot which you can get 6 shopping bags in, and more storage space under the bonnet.
In conclusion if you are looking for an economical, reliable, sports car for under £1000, with exellent predictable handling, for B road blasting I can think of no competition.