Will the Toyota Celica and MR2 Join the Supra and 86 in an Epic Sports Car Lineup?
Three brothers might become four...by Michael Fira, on
After 16 years of absence from the sports car world, Toyota returned by reviving the Supra, and now the MR2 or the Celica may get a second lease of life. The Japanese manufacturer voiced interest, through the Supra’s key engineers, of reviving at least one of those two emblematic cars, but the road ahead is tough for that dream to materialize.
We’ve all waited 16 years for a new Supra to emerge and now, with the fifth-gen A90 closer than ever to production, there might be more in store for us from Toyota. Masayuki Kai, the Assistant Chief Engineer on the Supra project, said to Road & Track that "We want to have Celica back, we want to have the MR2 back,” but he was also adamant to point out that “what will come next depends on the market needs."
This is because, as Kai pointed out, creating a sports car is tedious in the year 2018 and highly expensive, pointing to the cooperation with BMW as the only way to bring the Supra back. The GT86 is also the product of a shared project, this time with Subaru. We can assume, as such, that another partner must be found to finance and co-develop an MR2 or Celica follow-up. Otherwise, we won’t see any new sports car from Toyota other than a new GT86 in conjunction with a new BRZ and the production version of the Le Mans-esque Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Prototype.
"Sports car are becoming more and more expensive to develop, so a single company cannot afford to invest in all the tooling for parts and components, because the volume of sports car is quite small,” said Masayuki Kai, detailing his position. “A sports car requires a lot of specific components that you cannot share with other cars. The suspension components we’re using on the Supra, you can’t use on a sedan like Camry or Corolla. And as you know, all the homologation issues are also getting more and more complex and difficult.”
It turned out to be a mutually beneficial partnership as, according to Kai, “I’m quite sure if we did not make this cooperation, they could not have brought the Z4 back on the market alone and without their cooperation, we would never have been able to bring back the Supra.” This way, the world got a new Supra – which seems to live up to the hype according to journalists who test drove it at the Jarama circuit in Spain and the surrounding country roads – and Toyota kept its spirit alive by using BMW’s inline-six.
What is clear is that Toyota is interested in bringing at least one of those two past greats back, with the MR2 being the favored one.
Tetsuya Tada told Evo at least year’s Geneva Motor Show that “’We hope to have the ‘Three Brothers’ in place as soon as possible.” Tada was talking about the MR2-Celica-Supra three-way lineup of sports cars that Toyota had in the ’90s. With the GT86 now in the middle and the Supra being the big brother with a claimed power figure of over 300 horsepower and over 300 pound-feet of torque, it’s only natural to assume that the crown will be completed by an MR2 successor.
Toyota even teased this prospect as far back as 2015 with the S-FR concept. It had a 1.5-liter four-cylinder which was going to make 128 horsepower and 109 pound-feet of torque. This isn’t much, considering the Miata’s 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque, but it’s a start. Toyota might look at the powertrain of the 2019 Corolla hot hatch for a starting point.
To complicate matters even more, however, we’ve also heard that Toyota made a new trademark on the Celica name last year. We’ll just have to wait and, as Kai put it, see what the echoes are from the market after the Supra hits the showrooms.
Anyway, the earliest we can expect to see a new MR2 or a new Celica would be 2020, while the new GT86 is set for a 2021 release slot.
The market will also have its say on whether the Supra will get a manual. At the moment, the fledging sports car has an 8-speed automatic gearbox. It’s not unlikely, in case of a receptive customer base, that Toyota will produce a manual Supra, but it might be a limited edition because that will cut costs. “We have to introduce something new quite frequently, otherwise a car can lose interest," was Kai’s response to this prospect. "There are many options here, really. Anything you might think of, we’re already thinking about it."
Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best from what was, just a few years ago, one of the world’s most boring car manufacturers.
Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Toyota Supra.
Read our full review on the 1979 - 2002 Toyota Supra.
Read our full review on the 2002 Toyota MR2.
Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Toyota MR2.
Read our full historical review on the 1970 - 2006 Toyota Celica.
Source: Road & Track