2000-2005 Toyota MR2 Spyder: Mid-Engine Big-Time Fun

by on September 20th, 2010
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I recently did an article on the 2012 Porsche Cayman. In the piece the Cayman’s MSRP was $51,900, and I said that a 3-4 year-old Cayman could be purchase for $25,000-$30,000 for essentially the same car.

Maybe 25-30K is too much for your car budget, and since I am determined to make sure you have a smile on your face when driving, I provide this article. It features the 2000-2005 Toyota MR2 Spyder. It is a two seat mid-engine sports car that many people mistake for the convertible Porsche Boxster (the Cayman is the hardtop version of the Boxster).

So, what does the 2000-2005 Toyota MR2 Spyder convertible have to offer?

Wait a minute. Why even consider buying a convertible sports car at this time of the year? Well, the ‘off season’ offers even better prices on this car!

The engine is a 1.8-liter all-aluminum dual overhead cam four-cylinder providing 138 hp and 125 ft. lb. of torque. The transmission is a five-speed manual (upgraded to a six-speed in 2003). Later models of the car were also available with six-speed sequential automatic with shift buttons on the steering wheel. Depending on the transmission, the MR2 Spyder’s 0-60 mph time is in 6.7-7.5 seconds.

The MR2 Spyder’s windshield is well raked. The hood is short and wide (stubby). There is a large air intake in the center and the headlights are elongated rectangles that have a bit of a Boxster look. From the side the MR2 Spyder has rear fender vents that provide air to its mid-engine and there is a lower cut line that runs from the vent to the front wheel arch. At the rear the car’s look is wide and stubby with large taillights. The car’s wheelbase measures 96.5 inches.

The interior of this Toyota is well laid-out and functional. The three-pod round gauge cluster includes a large center tachometer and smaller speedometer, temperature and fuel readings. A small amount of cargo space is provided under the car’s front hood. Up front there is good legroom for a driver and passenger who are over six feet tall. The canvas top with its heated glass rear window is easy to operate up and down. Aftermarket hard tops are available for the MR2 Spyder.

The brakes are discs at each corner measuring 10 inches at the front and 10.3 inches at the rear. The MR2 Spyder’s 70-0 mph stopping distance is in 129 feet (this is a braking reading that many cars obtain from 60-0 mph). The tires measure 185 55 15 inch at the front and 215 45 16 inch at the rear. Of note is that the tire size can vary slightly between the years 2000-2005.

The suspension contains of MacPherson struts up front combined with gas shock absorbers and an anti-roll bar. The setup at the rear includes MacPerson struts, dual links combined with gas shock absorbers and an anti-roll bar.

Standard features on the MR2 Spyder include air conditioning, ABS brakes, power steering, windows and locks, tilt steering wheel, AM/FM cassette stereo and more.

Safety features on this sports car include ABS brakes, driver and front passenger air bags, and front seat mounted side air bags.

On the road the Toyota MR2 Spyder has a slight rear weight bias that contributes to the car’s outstanding handling. The car responds quickly to the driver’s input and the car’s rack and pinion steering provides good feedback. This car is well suited to handing twisty back roads, however, it is an easy car to live with for day-in and day-out use (running errands, etc.). The manual transmission has short precise throws (shift action) but reasonably tall ratios for relatively relaxed cruising on the highway. The suspension provides a buttoned down drive combined with reasonable ride quality.

The fuel rating of the MR2 Spyder is 25 city and 33 mpg highway.

The prices of used 2000-2005 Toyota MR2 Spyders range from $5,000-$12,000.

If you want a dependable mid-engined sports car that will not break the bank, the Toyota MR2 Spyder might well be a sports car to check out. For the buck it is an interesting proposition indeed. That is why I am bringing it to your attention as it could put a real smile on your face!

View the slideshow to see the 2000-2005 Toyota MR2 Spyder inside and out!

Kyle Busch is the author of “Drive the Best for the Price: How to Buy a Used Automobile, Sport-Utility Vehicle, or Minivan and Save Money.” He welcomes your comments or car questions at his auto web site: www.cartown1.com. Follow Kyle on Facebook and Twitter.

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