Rumors Say the Next-Gen Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 Are Cancelled, But Does That Open the Door for a New Toyota MR2?
We’re still waiting around for the Three Brothers to make their entrance…by Jonathan Lopez, on
These days, Toyota is in complete command of the Japanese sports coupe spotlight thanks to the debut of the new 2020 Toyota Supra. Rumor has it the brand might be looking to lock that position down with a new MR2 sometime in the near future, but in order to do so, the Toyota 86 might have to bite the dust.
Clearing The Table For The Mister Two?
|Note: Toyota 86 pictured here.|
Good news, bad news time.
Let’s start with the bad news first. Unfortunately, it’s looking like the Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86 twins, those epic little sport compacts us enthusiasts can’t stop raving about, might get cancelled in the next year or so. First put into production in 2012, a next-generation for these two has been a long time coming, but that might be a bit of a stretch with current market demands.
However, here’s the good news - as a replacement, we could get a new Toyota MR2. Hmm…
This whirlwind of rumors comes to us courtesy of an upcoming issue of Best Car, an automotive publication out of Japan, which was relayed through our friends at Japanese Nostalgic Car. Apparently, the forthcoming report says the twin coupes may very well get the axe before they get a next-gen update.
Apparently, Subaru and Toyota, who originally collaborated on development of the BRZ and 86, are considering separate development paths for their sports car lineup.
|Note: 2020 Toyota Supra pictured here.|
The reasoning behind all this isn’t totally clear, but the release of the new A90 Supra is probably a pretty big indicator. As Japanese Nostalgic Car points out, the four-cylinder iteration of the next-gen Supra makes 197 horsepower, which is just under the 86’s 205-horsepower output. And as we all know, fitting two front-engine, RWD sports cars into the lineup, both of which make around 200 horsepower, is a surefire path towards cannibalized sales.
Swimming Against The Current?
|Note: TopSpeed’s rendering of the 2020 Toyota MR2 pictured here.|
Here’s the thing though - despite the never-ending demand for SUVs and crossovers, and moves elsewhere in the industry to get rid of every other segment out there (looking at you Ford), Toyota definitely wants more sports cars in its lineup.
We know that for sure at this point. For example, in 2017, Gazoo Racing head Tetsuya Tada told Evo that he wanted the “Three Brothers” lineup back “as soon as possible.”
For those of you left out of the loop, the “Three Brothers” term is a reference to Toyota’s lineup in the ‘90s.
Back then, Toyota offered three iconic sports cars - the Celica, the Supra, and the MR2. Toyota is close to achieving a similar lineup right now, with the Celica’s spot occupied by the 86, and the new A90 Supra taking up the mantle for the old fourth-gen model. All we need now is a new MR2.
However, if Toyota axes the 86, we may get exactly that. Imagine this - the Supra remains where it is now, while the 86 is replaced by a new, lightweight, mid-engine sports car making around 200 horsepower. Toyota calls it the MR2, and JDM fanboys lose their collective minds accordingly.
So then, if a new MR2 does end up replacing the 86, what would take up that third spot that’s leftover? You know, where the old Celica used to reside?
|Note: Toyota S-FR concept pictured here.|
In that case, an even-smaller sports coupe could fit the bill. As Japanese Nostalgic Car points out, a production version of the Toyota S-FR concept that dropped back in 2015 would fill the slot nicely. We’re not sure how this would apply to the U.S. market, as the S-FR is way too small for us SUV-loving ‘Mericans, but overseas, the “Three Brothers” would have their return - as expected.
What Does The Future Hold?
That all said, entry-level, RWD, front-engine sports cars are hard to come by these days, and we’d certainly lament the passing of the 86 and BRZ.
What’s more, these are all just rumors - it’s also possible Toyota and Subaru will find some consensus to keep the respective nameplates afloat. Indeed, we’ve heard additional rumors that a new-gen 86 and BRZ might get a debut in 2021 and come with a new 2.4-liter engine. Maybe.
That would be a pretty interesting development, as the 86 has received widespread criticism for being underpowered, despite its obvious focus on low weight and handling. Extra power under the hood might silence those critics once and for all, granted the larger powerplant (the current model’s engine is rated at two liters flat) doesn’t screw with the car’s perfect balance and handling.
There’s another wrench to throw into all this speculation. As we’ve seen, Toyota isn’t exactly keen on making its own sports car, as evidenced by its partnership with Subaru for the 86 and its partnership with BMW for the Supra. If a new MR2 is imminent, how would Toyota produce such a thing?
Luckily, the rumor mill is once again right there to add fuel to the fire. As we reported in October of last year, it’s looking like Subaru too might be working on a new mid-engine sports car. Could this be a collaborative effort with Toyota, with Toyota’s side of the equation branded as the new MR2?
Again - maybe.
What Would A New Toyota MR2 Look Like?
Let’s put the politics aside for a second and talk shop. What exactly would a next-gen MR2 look like?
First off, it’ll have a mid-mounted engine and RWD drivetrain (hence the “MR” part of the name), plus two seats and two doors (the “2” part of the name).
It would also come with a relatively low price tag, hopefully under the $30,000 mark.
All that by itself is a pretty big head-turner - entry-level pricing with mid-engine handling? Yes please.
A new-gen MR2 would also likely pull styling from the A90 Supra, and include a few premium details here and there, like LED lighting and standard plus-sized alloy wheels. Summer rubber as standard with all-seasons as an available option would be nice.
Inside, we’d expect a relatively toned-down interior spec, with a greater focus on performance and driver comfort. It would likely be quite tight, and come standard with bucket seats, an Alcantara-covered flat-bottom steering wheel, and alloy pedals.
As for the greasy bits, a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter or 2.5-liter four-cylinder is the obvious first pick, with 200 to 250 horsepower sent to the rear wheels through a standard six-speed manual transmission. The sprint to 60 mph should take around 5.5 to 6 seconds, while top speed will scratch the surface of 150 mph.
Alternatively, Toyota may feel inclined to shoehorn a hybrid powertrain into this thing, but if that were the case, we’d be afraid about the electric bits making the car too heavy.
Granted, the instant electric torque might be a blast, but low weight should be priority one.
Finally, buyers will have the option to add on copious TRD upgrades, including a short shifter, a new exhaust, a new intake, stiffer suspension, and the like.
What do you wanna see from a next-gen MR2? Would you lament the loss of the Toyota 86 or Subaru BRZ? Let us know in the comments section below.
Read our speculative review on the 2020 Toyota MR2.
Read our full review on the 2020 Toyota Supra.
Read our full review on the 2015 Toyota S-FR Concept.
Read our full, driven review of the 2017 Toyota 86.
Read our full, driven review of the 2017 Subaru BRZ.
Source: Japanese Nostalgic Car