The Most Underrated Competitor to the Miata: Toyota MR-2 Spyder

The Toyota MR-2. One of the greatest mid-engined sports cars to ever come out of Japan. Commonly known in the MR-2 owner community as the Mister Two.

The Most Underrated Competitor to the Miata: Toyota MR-2 Spyder

It has had quite a history throughout the last few decades starting all the way back in 1984 with the AW11. Coming with a tiny 1.6L I4 that came in both NA and Supercharged form. Producing a massive 145hp and weighing in at just 2500lbs (2493lbs to be exact).

The Most Underrated Competitor to the Miata: Toyota MR-2 Spyder

And as Jalops, I feel it is needed to include with the AW11 the Toyota 222D, which was a Group B rally MR-2 with a 750hp version of the 4T-GTE 4 banger found in the then Toyota Celica TwinCam Turbo Group B rally car. It is said that there are a few examples of this car, but the info is very scarce. There's even a rumor of one being powered by a V6.

The Most Underrated Competitor to the Miata: Toyota MR-2 Spyder

Now we move onto the best generation of the MR-2, the SW20. Basically a 4 banger-powered, Japanese version of the then Ferrari 348/355. Powered by one of the most iconic 4 cylinders of all time, the 3S-GTE, it was said to be one of the best handling cars of its time. Of course, us 'Mericuns only got jipped and only got a 200hp turbocharged version while the rest of the world received a 242hp turbocharged version that also weighed considerably less than the USDM version.?

The Most Underrated Competitor to the Miata: Toyota MR-2 Spyder

And yet again, because awesome race car. Specifically, it's a Japanese Grand Touring Championship (JGTC or now SuperGT) GT300 race car with a 300hp race version of the 3S-GTE, that also powered some of the Toyota Supra GT500s in the same series.?

The Most Underrated Competitor to the Miata: Toyota MR-2 Spyder

Finally, we are at the ZZW30 MR-2 Spyder (also known as the MR-S and MR-2 Roadster). I saw it is underrated because it is not known as that "the answer is always going to be Miata"-type vehicle. But it has all the great attributes that the Miata has. Lightweight, peppy 4-cylinder, great handling and that infamous Toyota reliability before the "unintended acceleration" days. Plus, it also has a 1-up to the Miata. It has the mid-engined coolness factor. Powered by a 138hp 1.8L 1ZZ-FED. Basically a detuned version of the 190hp 2ZZ-FE found in the Series II Lotus Elise and Toyota Celica GT-S/SS II. I know, I know, it's less power than the SW20 and it's not much of a competitor for the previous competitors of the MR-2. But just imagine 138hp in a 2200lb chassis. The power-to-weight is pretty serious. Hell, it absolutely RAPED the Miata NB and NC by being 200-300lbs less than both. But I guess the 170hp from the NC would make up for that extra weight. If you think about it though, you're basically getting a Lotus Elise Series I for real cheap. I have found as low as $6,000 for one with high mileage, but in incredible condition.

And again, because race car.

The Most Underrated Competitor to the Miata: Toyota MR-2 Spyder

So my question is to my fellow Jalops, why isn't the MR-2 Spyder considered in the suggestions when someone is looking for something cheap and fun?