Touted as the successor to the MR2, the Toyota MR-S first debuted at the 1997 Tokyo Motor Show. It was given further design refinements and unveiled again at the Chicago Auto Show in February 1999. Finally, in October, the model that would become the showroom MR-S was released in Japan.
Despite slight changes, the showroom model essentially inherited all of the previous model’s specs and features. The texture of the original show car’s styling had been disappointingly poor in 1997, but a richer, more substantial styling was achieved in subsequent prototypes and mass-production models.
The midship power unit, located behind the driver, is a DOHC 1.8-liter inline 4-cylinder model 1ZZ-FE (143hp and 126 lb-ft), a BEAMS engine also used in the Celica SS1 and equipped with VVT-i. The transmissions, however, were built specially for the MR-S: a 5-speed manual transmission and a 2-pedal sequential transmission based on the manual transmission but requiring no clutch.
The chassis features front and rear strut suspension and ventilated discs on front and rear brakes. The combination of handling and comfort makes this a fun car to drive. Also noteworthy is the weight, which, remarkably, is under 2,200 lbs. This, of course, ensures amazingly nimble performance.