SKULL VALLEY, Ariz. — The one thing that can sour the success of Toyota’s MR2 Spyder, a sharp-handling, sporty four-cylinder sportscar like nothing else Toyota has built, is the profit seeking of their dealer body. The car has the looks, performance and fun factor rivaling some exotic cars, yet it’s priced in the Miata range. That is, before the dreaded "additional dealer markup."
The MR2 Spyder, in fact, might be a good test of the quality and ethics of your local dealer. Despite excellent Toyota sales volumes and profit potential, plus heavy suggestions from the corporation, a lot of dealers are hoping customers have short memories and are gouging Spyder buyers.
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2000 Toyota MR2 Spyder
What separates the Spyder from the small crop of other fun sports cars is the engine —it’s located behind the driver but ahead of the rear wheels. Over the years this mid-engine location has become the favored configuration for racing sports cars, and while it is clumsier for road applications, it offers weight savings and balance benefits.
The MR2 Spyder looks much better in person than it does in photographs. We evaluated it in high humidity with top down and sun tan lotion applied, in the thin mountain air with the accompanying chill and even in some coastal downpours. The heater, A/C and top operation and sealing will banish memories of petulant ‘50s sports cars immediately.
Toyota takes advantage of the excellent engine and gearbox from the new Celica GT and places it in a mid-engine rear-drive configuration. While some pundits were afraid it would be underpowered, it really exhibited a nice balance of power and handling.