Rumours of a new Toyota MR2 have been around since the last third-generation cars rolled out of the factory in 2007. Those rumours kicked up a gear in 2021 when the Toyota Sports EV concept, with its distinctive cab-forward silhouette, was revealed. An updated version, the FT-Se, was shown off at last year’s Japan Mobility Show.
While both of those concepts have been full-electric vehicles, rumours coming from Japan suggested that a possible production car could use the GR Yaris’ three-cylinder turbo engine.
The FT-Se was described at its October 2023 debut as a “high-performance sports BEV [battery electric vehicle] model proposed as one of the options for sports cars in the carbon-neutral era.”
Toyota’s phrasing – ‘one of the options’ – is noteworthy, suggesting that alternatives to a full-EV drivetrain have always been on the cards. Toyota has long explored other alternative propulsion methods, with its chairman and former CEO, Akio Toyoda, stating in January this year that he believes pure EVs will “only have a 30 per cent market share” at their peak.
Fourth-generation Toyota MR2 powertrain rumours
Although the FT-Se concept is clearly labelled as a BEV, there have been plenty of rumours suggesting Toyota is making a combustion-powered sports car. Japanese magazine Best Car claimed last October that the mid-engined sports car would utilise the 1.6-litre turbocharged three-cylinder that currently powers the GR Yaris and GR Corolla.
The magazine doubled down on these claims in January, with a new report (translated from Japanese) saying that Toyota wants to “use the components of the GR Yaris more effectively and widely.”
Interestingly, it also claims that while Toyota has now settled on a two-door coupe layout, it had toyed with the idea of a mid-engined hatchback in the vein of the Renault Clio V6 or a number of 1980s rally homologation specials. That would have been something entirely unique in today’s car market, but Toyota apparently decided it was too close in concept to the existing GR Yaris.
Best Car also lays down some key figures it expects from the car, although whether this information has any solid foundations or is just conjuncture isn’t clear. It suggests at least 315bhp and a kerbweight of around 1300kg, with the mid-mounted engine driving the rear wheels through either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox. A price of between 10 and 11 million Yen (around £55,000) is also projected.
That’s about it for this latest round of rumours. A slated 2026 reveal for a production car still seems to be the consensus, although whether Toyota plans a fully-electric version to sit alongside the combustion car isn’t clear. The previous Best Car report suggested that the car would be exclusive to the Japanese market, but it doesn’t mention these claims this time around.
It’s worth reinforcing the fact that this is all still just speculation, and nothing should be taken as concrete until it comes from Toyota itself. The closest we’ve had so far came in a video featuring the brand’s senior general manager of design, Simon Humphries. He noted in a presentation video that “car fans like Akio Toyoda will certainly not be disappointed,” coinciding with footage of the Sports EV concept. That sounds an awful lot like a hint.