Toyota believes the European market is primed for a compact hybrid sports carEnlarge Photo
The news comes from Toyota's executive vice-president, Masatami Takimoto, who revealed during an interview with AutoExpress that his company is keen to replace the car, especially in the European market where the MR2 name is still held fondly. Takimoto confirmed Toyota was “developing a small hybrid sports car” but said it will be a coupe and not a roadster.
Takimoto also mentioned that Toyota has set itself a "tough price point", and that making the car affordable will be just as important as making it an enjoyable drive. This means we can expect the small coupe to be sitting on a sporty RWD chassis but most importantly with a refined version of the Prius' hybrid powertrain to better suit the car's performance aspirations. Takimoto confirmed that the hybrid engine "set-up must be different to the Prius, with greater responsiveness".
The car is expected to sell for around $28,000, and performance is expected to be slightly quicker than that of the previous MR2, which was able to hit 62mph from rest in about 7.5 seconds.
No release date has been given but with Honda planning to launch its own hybrid sports car based on the CR-Z concept next year we may just end up seeing the new MR2 a lot sooner than you thing. Toyota is also working closely with Subaru on a new RWD sports car and this could easily end up being the basis for the revised MR2.
A hybrid sports car from Toyota has been a long time in the making, with the company first hinting at such a prospect over two years ago at the 2007 Detroit Motor Show where they showed off their FT-HS concept. While that car was slated to revive the Supra or Celica nameplates, the success of an MR2 hybrid sports car may nudge Toyota in bringing back their European-rivalling sports cars.