2001 Toyota MR2 Spyder 1.8 gasoline from North America


A great driver's car at any price.


Rear trunk latch occasionally does not work.

Rattle from passenger airbag disable in glove compartment.

General Comments:

The handling is simply amazing. Few cars can compare.

It's an extremely fun to drive. Quite possibly one of the most enjoyable cars under $50,0000.

The brakes are incredible. Literally brakes as well as most Ferrari's.

Very smooth and comfortable ride for such a small car.

The stock Bridgestone Potenza tires are excellent.

The engine is strong at any speed or rpm.

Throttle response is lightning quick and the engine and transmission are unbelievably smooth.

Convertible top is very easy to operate and well sealed.

There is a very large blind spot with the top up that makes merging very difficult. The hard top remedies this, but is expensive.

Interior is bland, but high quality.

Oak colored leather interior is not very appealing.

The engine could use 10-20 more horsepower.

Front trunk space is virtually non-existent.

It could use a limited slip differential.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th June, 2003

2001 Toyota MR2 1.8 from UK and Ireland


Performance Bargain, no room for luggage


Knocking on Full lock : This is a known issue and is the springs latching on the shocker, the dealer is sorting this under warranty.

General Comments:

Having driven TT's, Boxsters etc, this car is the most involving and down right fun of the lot, although the least practical.

Ride / Handling : About town, the car is comfortable, and although the ride is hard, and it somewhat bobbles over pot holes, the suspension is very supple and soaks up larger bumps very well.

At speed the car feels very stable and firmly planted on the road. Body roll is not noticeable at all in the corners, the car will break away and oversteer quite easily, but this is all part of what is an immensely exciting driving experience.

Steering : About town, the steering is light, very guick, with less than half a turn of the wheel for most city corners. At speed the steering simply takes you exactly where you want to go, point the car, and it takes you there.

Performance : This car is much faster than the stats would suggest. It will clock 60 in 7.0 seconds in good conditions, but this will take practice. Fishtailing away from the lights is not uncommon, and is both very enjoyable, yet very controllable. Applying some lock and booting the car will enable you to fishtail in most conditions. The car is very fast up until about 85-90, but as per most smaller capacity 4 pot cars, the hike from 80 - 130 takes some time. 30 - 70, the car is faster than a boxster.

Braking : The weight, and stability of the car facilitate very late breaking, that feels very controllable. Overtaking on short straights before corners feels very safe because you feel confident that you can scrub off a lot of speed very quickly. Fantastic.

Interior / Equipment : Solid and functional like most Toyotas. No rattles of any real note, leather is good quality. Visibility is good, and particularly aided by the glass (as opposed to plastic) window in the back of the car. The stereo is very good, but the doors tend to resonate at any real volume, could probably be sorted by sound deadening material such as dynomat. Leather is good quality.

Practicality : You could squash a hiking rucksack in the areas behind the seat, and another normal rucksack on the spare wheel at the front, but that's it. Forget cases of any sizes, unless your traveling on your own when you can use the passenger seat. Roof is very easy to put up and down, and can be put up or down in about 60 seconds. Economy is very good, better than my old 1.7 Puma, even when pushing it. Insurance is cheap as the car is only group 13.

Notes : If you get a non-hardtop version, don't let the dealer tell you you can't fit one (which they probably will), you just need to find a dealer who'll do the job, or go direct to Toyota. If your DIY minded you can do the job yourself with the kit from toyota in less than an hour.

Comparison to closest rivals :

MX5/Miata - Dated design in terms of dynamics and engine. lousy interior.

MGF - Again, Dated design, lack of attention to detail and quality in comparison.

Elise - Elise is faster, but even less practical, comfort and gadgets non existent.

Summary : A total hoot, but unless like me you drive to work and back, do a bit of shopping, and then ponce around at the weekend, your going to need a second car. Almost as good as an Elise in the driving, yet much more comfortable and easy to live with. Cheap to run, fast, reliable, but no storage space.

Buy one if the storage issue is not a problem, you won't regret it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 2nd April, 2003

21st Sep 2003, 14:51

Reviews like this are what makes this site so useful. My wife and I are thinking of a two seater in this kind of price bracket and will set off to the Toyota dealership/car supermarket for a look next weekend. Good work fella!

28th Mar 2004, 11:44

Good review, but I must comment on your two line dismissal of the MX-5/Miata, a car which I believe is a strong rival to the MR2, and still capable of giving it a real run for its money.

Firstly, my personal view is that interior design falls somewhere down the list with practicality in order of importance on cars like this. The MX-5's interior is beautifully made, but is also deliberately minimalist and retro - to criticise it for this is to totally miss the point. That said, it's the driving experience that counts with these kind of cars, and the MX-5 will still hold its own with the MR2 on any twisty road you can think of.

Although the MR2 outperforms even the 1.8iS MX-5 off the line due to its lighter weight (the MX-5 actually has more power), your comment that it has "dated handling" is simply not true. Some 15 years after its launch, it still managed to win Autocar's Best Driver's Car under £15,000 (street price) contest last year, with a certain Tiff Needell judging the outcome. With global sales figures in excess of 700,000 (and still climbing), many others would seem to agree.

The MR2 is a great car - I drove one and liked it a lot. But the MX-5 manages as many grins per mile, whilst offering the progressive breakaway and controllable power oversteer that only a front engined, rear drive car can offer. Add to that an active owners club scene and a real following among enthusiasts, and it's a package much more worthy than your two line dismissal.

A happy MX-5 owner.

8th Sep 2004, 09:50

I'm a happy MR2 owner, but I'd agree that this review dismisses the MX5 too lightly.

Also, the estimate of 60 seconds to raise lower the hood is a definite over-estimate. It's more like 10 seconds each way! It can even be raised one-handed at 30mph in the rain... though I'd never do such a thing myself (honest!)

3rd Nov 2005, 07:54

The only real complaint with the Miata (MX5) is that they are everywhere (at least here in the States). The real head-turner, at least for a while, will be the Pontiac Solstice.

15th Mar 2008, 17:03

If you get a Solstice, make sure it's a gxp (turbo) or you won't be happy with the take off. I drove an MR2 and a Sky on the same car lot, and 40 minutes later was driving away in the MR2. Floor the gas pedal in the Sky at any RPM over 3k and there seems to be no power in reserve, not the case with the MR2. I think if Toyota revamped the look a little, gave it a 6speed and cruise control, maybe another cubic foot of trunk, and a factor turbo that gave it atleast 220hp, you'd have the perfect sports car. That would rival the Elise. Give it power heated seats, nav, and a few more bells and whistles and it would rival the Z4. Give it 300+ hp and all wheel drive and it could be badged as the new Supra and rival the Nissan GT-R! Toyota could really use a flagship sports car to rival the 350Z, Mustang GT, Corvette, RX8, etc... and if they kept the power to weight ratio decent, this could be it.

2001 Toyota MR2 Roadster 1.8 from UK and Ireland


Value for money drivers sports car


None really, the roof on the passenger side has a slight problem, but that was probably me as I could not wait to get it down on a sunny day, should have read the manual.

General Comments:

Fantastic car, cheap to run, good build quality, useless as a family car, but who cares, its great as a second fun car.

Handles so well, and is a delight to drive, looks good too.

Much better dynamics than MX-5/MGF competition, have been told these are cars for hairdressers.

MR2 is a real drivers car, only the Elise is better.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st March, 2003

28th Mar 2004, 12:49

So, what you are saying in essence is the MX-5 and MG-F are hairdressers cars and the MR2 somehow isn't. Can you back this up with anything resembling hard evidence?

And the MR2 ISN'T better dynamically than the MX-5. Truth is, they're much of a muchness. Both among the best handling cars on the road, and both capable of embarassing far more powerful machinery on twisty lanes. Having driven both cars (but not an MG-F so no comment there), my objective comments relative to each other would be:

MR2: A tad more grunt (8/10 quicker to 60), carries amazing corner speeds, better (awesome) brakes, looks better (imho)

MX-5 (1.8iS) : Sounds better (imho), slicker gearbox, more exploitable and controllable at the limit, sharper and better feeling steering.

In truth there's very little in it - both absolutely cracking cars. The hairdresser joke is akin to the Skoda joke incidentally. Total nonsense, 10 years out of date, and most often heard from people who rate pub banter over genuine experience. Mine's based on three hours with each car, plus 10,000 subsequent miles in an MX-5. It was a damn hard choice though.