Toyota's MR2 Spyder...........High Value mid-engine sportster
By Toyota Press Dept. / All photos Toyota
Jul 31, 2003, 01:00 PST





           The mid-engine Toyota MR2 Spyder receives freshened exterior and interior designs and a six-speed sequential manual transmission (SMT) option for 2003.  The six-speed SMT replaces the five-speed unit introduced for 2002.  A five-speed manual transmission is standard.  New 16-inch rear wheels give the MR2 Spyder even better response and control for 2003.


 “The MR2 Spyder is a pure sports car based on a concept of low weight and a racecar-inspired mid-engine configuration,” said Don Esmond, Toyota Division senior vice president and general manager.  “At the same time, the MR2 is a well-equipped roadster with true everyday usability and comfort.”


The MR2 Spyder has not only proven its mettle as a “budget exotic” sports car, but has also succeeded in attracting more performance-oriented buyers to the Toyota brand.        The MR2 appeals to driving enthusiasts of all ages because it fulfills the definition of a no-compromise sports car – and it’s fun to be seen in, too.  The model name stems from Mid-engine, Rear-wheel drive and 2 seats.

Like the two generations of MR2 models before it, the MR2 Spyder delivers the performance and handling of more expensive sports cars yet with proven Toyota quality and durability. Capable of 0-60 mph performance in slightly over seven seconds, the MR2 Spyder is also easy to own, thanks to low maintenance and fuel costs.  


For 2003, Toyota gave the MR2 Spyder a bolder look in front with a new bumper/ fascia, new dual-bulb projector-style headlights and new integrated standard foglights. The side air intakes are now color-keyed instead of black.  In the rear, the 2003 MR2 Spyder is distinguished by new combination lamps with cylindrical turn signals and reversing lights that mimic the dual-bulb look of the headlights.


The rear grill garnish combines body-color ribs and mesh to emphasize the midship engine design.  The larger oval chrome tailpipe puts a new accent on the car’s performance capability, and a new power antenna contributes to the car’s clean lines.  The MR2 Spyder gets an even sportier interior for 2003.  New instrument panel graphics use finer gradations in the gauges for a more sophisticated appearance.  The heater/air conditioner controls likewise feature similar fine gradations, as well as new chrome trim rings.  New chrome trim also accents the door speakers and air vents.


Sequential Manual Transmission

The Toyota SMT is a true clutchless sequential manual transmission similar in concept and operation to those offered in Ferrari, Maserati and BMW M3 models.  It is not an automatic transmission offering a manual control mode, as seen in sports cars including the Porsche Boxster and BMW Z3.


With the Toyota SMT, the driver shifts gears by moving the floorshift to the “+” (upshift) or “-” (downshift) positions.  Computer-controlled actuators perform the clutch disengagement/engagement and gearshifts as quickly as a highly experienced driver.  The electronic throttle control even reduces torque during upshifts and “blips” the throttle to match engine speed during downshifts.  The driver can also shift gears via steering wheel-mounted buttons.


            The SMT provides the driver with the interaction and performance of a manual transmission, while the absence of a clutch pedal makes the car more convenient and comfortable to drive in traffic.  In addition, the SMT opens the manual-transmission sports car experience to individuals who cannot operate a clutch pedal.


            The SMT grade carries a manufacturers suggested retail price (MSRP) that is only an additional $1,000 over the five-speed manual transmission model.  In exotic sports cars, such a transmission can add thousands of dollars to the price of the car.  The main difference is that the Toyota SMT does not offer a full automatic mode, keeping the unit both affordable and light (it adds just 20 pounds over the standard five-speed manual transmission).


Optimized Powertrain

The MR2 Spyder is powered by the same 1.8-liter twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder engine as in the Celica GT.  The engine produces 138 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 125 lbs.-ft. of peak torque at 4,400 rpm.  Toyota Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) continuously varies intake valve operation to optimize torque at all speeds.  As a result, the MR2 provides very responsive everyday performance without requiring high rpm to enjoy sporty driving.



An aluminum engine block with an aluminum-alloy cylinder head helps keep powertrain weight low.  The MR2 Spyder achieves estimated EPA fuel mileage ratings of 26 mpg city/32 mpg highway with the five-speed manual and 25/33 with the six-speed SMT.


Pure Sports Chassis

            The mid-engine layout gives the MR2 Spyder quick, precise steering response because it concentrates the car’s largest mass – the powertrain – closer to the car’s center than is possible with a front engine location.  The configuration gives the MR2 Spyder what engineers refer to as a “low polar moment of inertia.”  That means the MR2 Spyder is less resistant to changes in direction and therefore very responsive to steering input.


An exceptionally stiff unitized body structure and strut-based four-wheel independent suspension give the MR2 Spyder both high-performance cornering ability and a compliant ride.  The rack-and-pinion steering system uses an electric-powered hydraulic pump, which saves weight and reduces parasitic drag on the engine.  The unit provides excellent responsiveness and feedback with just 2.7 turns lock-to-lock.


A “staggered” wheel and tire setup enhances balance and handling response. The 15 x 6-inch front alloy wheels have 185/55R15 tires.  In the rear, new 16 x 7-inch alloy wheels with 215/45R16 tires replace the 15 x 6.5-inch wheels and 205/50R15 tires used on the 2002 model.  Four-wheel disc brakes with Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) help to ensure safe, confident braking and fade resistance.


Everyday Comfort

Low vehicle weight does not mean sacrificing comfort in the MR2 Spyder. The combination of bolstered sport seats and a generous 42.2 inches of legroom ensure comfort for pleasure drives and longer trips.  The leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob are traditional sports car touches and impart a quality feel to the interior.

The manually operated convertible soft-top folds completely out of sight yet has a glass rear window with defroster.  A standard wind deflector that deploys behind the seats helps reduce air buffeting in the cockpit.



There are storage compartments under the front hood and behind the seatbacks. The extensive standard equipment rivals that of more expensive sports cars and includes a 3-in-1/AM-FM/cassette/CD audio system with four speakers, air conditioning, power windows, door locks and exterior mirrors, tilt steering wheel, keyless entry and security system with engine immobilizer.  The factory option list is short, with only tan and black leather-trim interior packages with matching-color convertible tops.

Toyota’s 36-month/36,000-mile basic new-vehicle limited warranty applies to all components other than normal wear and maintenance items.  Additional 60-month warranties cover the powertrain for 60 months/60,000 miles and corrosion perforation for 60 months with no mileage limitation.                                 




·  P185/55 R15 front tires and P215/55R16 rear tires, on 15” and 16” aluminum alloy wheels, respectively
·  Anti-lock Brake System (ABS)
·  Color-keyed bumpers and door handles
·  Dual color-keyed power outside mirrors
·  Functional side air intake ducts
·  CFC-free air conditioning
·  Cruise control (sequential manual transmission models only)
·  Drilled aluminum sport pedals
·  Leather-wrapped steering tilt steering wheel and gear shift lever (with chrome shift lever on SMT)
·  Driver and front passenger airbags SRS with passenger-side airbag cutoff switch
·  Deluxe 3-in-1 audio system with four speakers
·  Manual folding black cloth convertible top with glass rear window and electric defroster
·  Fabric-trimmed four-way adjustable sport seats
·  Power windows with retained-power and driver’s auto-down features
·  Power door locks with anti-lockout feature
·  Multi-reflector halogen headlamps with Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
·  Wind deflector
·  Washer-linked intermittent windshield wipers
·  Tan Leather Package includes tan leather-trimmed interior with tan convertible top
·  Black Leather Package includes black leather-trimmed interior with black convertible top




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