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Used car focus: Toyota MR2 – 2000 on

It was back to basics for the third generation Midship-Runabout two-seater (MR2). It’s loads of fun, with a lightweight body, free-revving responsive engine and a low-slung driving position. It’s a proper little sports car, but strictly a plaything – there’s very little luggage space.


The single-model MR2 range launched in March 2000 with Sony radio/cassette/CD, bucket seats and 15in alloy wheels. Substantial revisions in October 2002 brought six-speed manual and semi-automatic gearboxes, traction control, improved suspension and 16in alloys. The 2003 Red special edition has red leather seats and soft top.

Driving and performance

It’s good to drive, though not quite as polished as the mini-Porsche Boxster looks would suggest. The engine is mid-mounted and it’s rear-wheel drive, so on damp or greasy roads it can be a bit of a handful. However, it’s far grippier in the dry and easier for the driver to keep in control. Steering is sharp and it’s extremely agile on twists. With the roof down, there is some body flexing, but it’s not a major problem.


The suitably sporty-looking interior has a low-slung driving position, with figure-hugging seats and a good view of the road ahead (although rearward visibility can be restricted with the roof up).

Lack of luggage space is a major concern to most buyers. There’s the tiniest of storage areas in the nose and two lockers behind the seats. They’re difficult to access (you have to fold the seat forward), but are lockable and will just about hold a week’s shopping for two. There’s a dashboard-top box big enough for a stash of CDs, and a small glovebox. Most buyers find themselves using the passenger seat for storage room.


All MR2s are powered by 1.8 VVTi with 138bhp. It’s no rocket ship, but enough to put the MR2 firmly into the sports car category. To get the best from it, the gearbox and engine need to be worked hard, and the driver really needs to get involved. Enthusiastic drivers love it.


No Euro NCAP crash test rating, but all cars have twin airbags and good brakes. If you’re tempted to ask your passenger to sit with luggage on their lap, think again. There’s no way to turn off the passenger airbag.

Parker's buyers' line

  • “People think it’s a Boxster, but it’s a third of the price. Great”
  • “Pacey at high revs, could do with a little more torque and noisier grunt”
  • “Excellent handling in dry but watch the back end in wet conditions”

    On the forecourt

    Fast movers

    Cars with air conditioning and leather The simple additions make the MR2 feel just that little bit more special: £200-800 premium. Hardtop models Makes winter driving a little more bearable: £800-1,300 premium.

    Ones to avoid


    In the workshop

    Very reliable, despite being a sports model. Look for poor-fitting gloveboxes, loose interior trim and poor speakers.

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