GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

1986-87 Toyota MR2 1600

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mr2_newyork.jpg


-------------------SPEX------------------

Years Represented: 1986
Country: Japan

Class: Sports Car
Type: 2-door coupe or targa
Host: GT2 & GT4


Price as Tested: $5,943 (used car lot--GT2)
                        $7,349 (historic lot--GT4)

Body Construction: unit steel
Length: 155.5" // Width: 65.5" // Height: 49.2"
Wheelbase: 91.3"
Overhang: @ 5 feet 3.5 inches
Track: 56.7" [F] 56.9" [R]
Ground Clearance: 5.3"
Weight: 2,336 lbs.
Layout: Mid Engine / Rear Drive
F. Suspension: MacPherson strut / coils / anti-roll bar
R. Suspension: multilink / coils / anti-roll bar / shox
Tires: 185/60R-14
Steering: unassisted rack & pinion
Brakes: vented discs + vacuum asst. [F] solid discs [R]

Engine: 1.6 liter DOHC inline 4

``````````````````````````GT2`````````````````````````````````GT4
Tested BHP: 137 @ 5,700 rpms          140 @ 6,400 rpms
Tstd Torque:
137 @ 4,500 rpm           137 @ 4,400 rpms
 
 
Aspiration: normal or supercharged
Fuel Syst: TCCS fuel inj.
Valves / Cyl: 4
Bore x Stroke: 3.19 x 3.03"
Compression: 8.0:1

Credits per HP: $43.38                                $52.49
Lbs. per HP:    17.05                                  16.54
Hp per Liter:     86.3                                   88.2

Idle Speed: 1,000 rpms (GT4)
GT2 Redline: 7,000 // RPM Limit: 8,000
GT4 Redline: 7,500 // RPM Limit: 8,000

Transmission: 5-speed manual

*track testing currently for the supercharged version.

```````````````````````GT2`````````````````````````````````GT4
0-60 mph: 7.948 seconds                 8.100 seconds
0-100mph: 23.776 seconds              21.900 seconds
 
400 M:    16.298 @ 85 mph              16.338 @ 88 mph
1 KM:    
29.97 @ 109 mph             29.550 @ 114 mph
 
Test Track: 1:55.753                             2:42.241
100-zero mph: no test                           4.60 seconds

Top Gear RPM @ 60 mph: 2,750

Top Speed at Redline
1st: 32 mph
2nd: 56 mph
3rd: 85 mph
4th: 115 mph
5th: 147.62 mph @7,100 rpms (GT2)
      145.70 mph @6,800 rpms (GT4)
 

  
 

red_mr2sc.jpg


 
-----------------EXTERIOR / HISTORY------------------

The first-gen Toyota MR2. What a perfect addition to the Gran Turismo selection of '80s cars, right? If it weren't here, I certainly would have noticed. Despite this, I have mixed feelings about the '86 MR2, which creates both nostalgia and nausea in my gut at times. What can we learn about it?

First off...if you don't live in the United States, you probly missed one of the premier automotive sales wars of the mid-eighties. Those of us who can remember that far back may recall that the MR2 wasn't the ONLY 2-seater, mid-engine car on the market! Here in America, we also had our own -- the Pontiac Fiero. This was also a mid-engine 2-seater, however it featured an ‘Enduralux’ plastic body instead of the MR2's heavier unit steel construction.

Unfortunately, the Fiero didn't last long...by 1989 it was out of production. It died a quick death along with hair bands, Reaganomics, and about a billion of my brain cells. ;-? But as we know, the Toyota MR2 thrived on and on thru the '90s, lasting two generations before declining sales (in America, anyways) caused Toyota to start concentrating more solely on ‘family’ oriented models *gack!*

Luckily, in 1999 or 2000, the 3rd gen MR2 Spyder emerged (known as the MR-S in our game and in certain countries), which was Toyota's attempt to compete again now that Honda had their S2000 and Mazda still had their Miata. But let's go back and look to the beginning
. *insert cheesy new wave music here*

The Mid-engine Runabout 2 (that's what MR2 stands for, according to www.SpyderChat.com but www.MR2.com gives several other interpretations) started its life in 1984. Like the 1st-gen RX-7, It wasn't meant to be a fast car at first, but in 1986 Toyota added a supercharger, and produced both this version and the original naturally-aspirated car till 1989. After this year, the MR2's 2nd generation began. In GT4 either model (normal or supercharged) can be had, but in GT2 we'll only find the supercharged version.

Tho it originally sold for just under $8,000, we can buy MK1-era MR2s in either game for several thousand less. Polyphony's attention to detail is awesome here...they've got all the basic colors represented, including my favorite--a 2-tone black with dark gray trim.

GT2: PS1 graphics are a bit shoddy for this car, and (of course) in GT4 everything looks heavenly. In either case, the MR2's lowish weight is a blessing. Still, the MR2 is a tad heavy when compared to, say.,...a mid-engine Lotus Elise, Tommykaira, or several other MR machines. Racing parts are available for the car's exterior (GT2), and with full weight taken away, it falls satisfyingly to Corolla country at 2,083 pounds in GT2, and a bit more in the 4th game. 

There are nine MR2 and MR-S cars total in GT2 and God knows how many version in 4; it's nice to see Polyphony Digital included the baby.

mr2_g-limited.jpg
Toyota MR2 1600 Supercharged


-------------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN------------------

On my way thru Sears the other day, I saw this girl, maybe 6 years old... maybe 8, with a pack of friends. On her shirt it said

“I have ISSUES”
 
...Which got me thinking. What the hell kind of issues could she have at such a young age? Did her young crush break her heart after bringing his ‘Amazing Can of Worms’ to show-and-tell that day? Did her mom deny this princess her very own cell phone? Pierced ears? Tattoo? We'll never know. For one thing, I AINT asking her mom! Plus, I got my own issues, plenty of them!

Well, take this baby for a test drive (I'm talking about the car, now, not that girl's mom) and hmmm. What do you think? I'll tell you what I think (it's my website, after all), I think the power could be improved. There really isn't much here to begin with, is there? Yes, this 1.6 can be easily had with a supercharger, which calls to mind all the funny cars and drag racers that made superchargers famous. So at first it seems you're about to get the ride of your life as soon as you hammer the throttle. Yes there's a supercharger; but truthfully, you barely notice it at first. You don't even begin to HEAR it till later on when you've got Stage 2 parts installed!

Acceleration in a stock MR2 is really poor for a sports car (even in some later MKII models like the '96 Spider), but thankfully this can be changed. All told, you really can't expect much. 283 hp @ 7,000 rpms is the most with a Stage 3 turbo in GT2, which of course costs a bundle of money. In GT4, turbos can't be bought, oddly. In fact, as confusing as this may sound, you can only buy natural-aspirated tuning, even for the SC (supercharged) version of the car. At most, we're talking much less than the GT2 car: 231 bhp with 213 foot-pounds at best.

Not much to go with, but it's okay. The poor MR2 1600 can't handle much more power as we'll soon see. The good news is this is one of those mid-engine machines that has loads of traction, so even tho power is low, most of it gets thrown to the pavement with efficiency.

After I donned a skinny tie with piano keys on it, used mousse gel to sculpt my hair into the shape of a crow, and broke out the Culture Club, I took my sweet '86 to the 80s races. For most of my driving, I used a close-ratio transmission. Since the powerband is narrow and up near the redline, this is all my MR2 needed.

Well like I said, I had some issues. Not only did my girlfriend make fun of my hair and break my Boy George CD in half, but my poor car had a rather tough time at the races.
 
-----------CHASSIS / HANDLING-----------

Left....right,...bump...left....switch to the right. LEFT.

No, that wasn't my MR2 going thru a series of chicanes in Deep Forest, nor was it some cheesy '80s-era Jane Fonda aerobics video. That was actually a scene from my replay as the MR2 travelled down the Trail Mountain backstretch, WHILE I TRIED TO KEEP IT GOING IN A STRAIGHT LINE!!! If you haven't driven an MR2 1600 G-limited, be forewarned: stability is not this car's forte. And tho my description above sounds a bit exaggerated, rest assured. It's NOT!

But once you've got the Midship Runabout 2 (or whatever it's supposed to be called) pointed correctly, all is well;  with minimal tuning and an agile steering thumb, it plants the power. All you'll need is a sports suspension, 1.5 or 2-way limted-slip device, and perhaps some medium slick tires (GT2) or medium sports (GT4) to get this nervous car to behave...in the '80s races I was using sports tires instead of slicks, simply to kill any cornering advantages.

The short wheelbase combined with a rather narrow body and tires with a tread width of just 185 are just as much to blame as the mid-engine for the jumpiness. In slower corners (like at Autumn Ring) you should have few problems. Whenever you see an MR2 1600 racing as an Ai in slower races, this car will dominate twisty & horsey tracks of all kinds, and so will you. It's once it starts moving with more speed and horses that you'll have to keep an eye out for possible impending disasters. But I did okay. I won four out of five '80s races, only losing at Seattle since my car was a bit underpowered. But I'm glad.

My Toyota makes me smile like in those commercials they ran back when I was in high school: “Oh what you do for me! TOYOTA!” Something gay like that.
 

mr2_1600sc.jpg
MR2 1600 G-limited

PROS---------------------------------------

1). Low, low price. Perhaps the cheapest mid-engine sports car in our game. Double-digit credit to power ratio guaranteed.

2). A fairly decent light weight car. If it were much lighter, stability would be sacrificed. Race-kit available in GT2.

3). What a cool vehicle!! The novelty factor can't be ignored, dude. Lots of videogames have Ferraris, Corvettes, and later-model MR2s, but what other game features the 1st-gen 1600?? And supercharged! This is yet another piece of automotive history to stalk in the used car lots.

4). Three aftermarket upgrades. Yeah, they're weak, but at least they're available. In GT4, some versions only accept natural tuning instead of superchargers.

5). Mid-engine guarantees decent traction & power efficiency. Rarely will spinning tires spin for long, unless you're purposely sliding out.

6). Light tuning & minimal parts is needed to win various lower sim races. Most of the time, you won't need the best suspension, tires, etc. to win, unless you're a fan of overkill.

7). Minimal understeer, gymnastic cornering ability (at lower speeds).

8). Not fuel-thirsty (GT4). 
 
CONS--------------------------------------

1). Yes, there IS such a thing as too much maneuverability. At medium to high speed (over 80 mph) the skittish MR2 becomes prone to spins. Road bumps don't treat it kindly, either.

2). A total of 146 extra horsepower from Stage 3 parts (GT2) if the engine is maxed. This is not cheap, either. The normally-aspirated car from GT4 only makes about 240 hp max, and the SC version makes even less at 231!

3). Poor engine-twist below 5,000 rpm despite the fact that peak torque is created in the 4 to 5,500 range. It's almost as if Toyota used a supercharger with the boost of a desk fan.

4). Experienced players like me can get away with doing most of their sim races on cheap tires, but amateurs may need racing slicks early on (GT2 only)

5). Easily pushed around by other sim cars.

6). Below average acceleration for a mid-engine sports car.

7). Poorly defined graphics from the Polyphony team (GT2).

8). Brakes that inspire more confidence than they provide.
 
 
 
 
Published: November 12, 2005
Re-Edited: July 3rd, 2007

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