What Does MR2 Stand For?

The Toyota MR2 is one of the best sports cars ever to come from Japan.

Across three distinct generations, the MR2 was Toyota’s take on the pint-sized, affordable, mid-engined sports car.

We’ve written a number of different articles in the past about the Toyota MR2 (particularly a series of in-depth buyer’s guides for the AW11, SW20 and W30/MR-S),

However, in this very short edition of Car Facts we are going to answer one of the most common questions people have about this great car – just what does MR2 stand for?

While Toyota was producing cars during the 1980s and 1990s with “real names” like the Supra, Celica or Corolla, why did the MR2 just get what seems to be a code-name? And just what does it mean?

The Meaning Of MR2

MR2 stands for Mid-Ship Runabout 2 Seater – some also believe it stands for Mid-Engined, Rear-Drive 2 Seater (which perfectly describes the car).

The “Midship Runabout 2 Seater” name comes from the original 1984 press release that Toyota put out to announce the launch of the MR2 in Japan. This press release is kindly archived on Toyota’s website – you can read the release here. It’s a great read, with Toyota really pushing the benefits of the mid-engined layout (needless to say there is no mention of the mid-engined, rear-drive nature contributing to making the MR2 a potentially dangerous car … although this was generally more of an issue on the SW20/2nd generation).

Here is the relevant section – right from the opening paragraph:

So straight from the horse’s mouth, MR2 stands for “Mid-Ship Runabout 2-Seater”. However, Japanese car companies have had a tendency in the past to come up with somewhat awkward translated names, which is probably where the Mid-Engined, Rear-Drive, 2-Seater meaning comes from (as it is much easier to understand and also perhaps a better description of what the MR2 actually is).

What About MR-S?

As you might be aware, the third-generation MR2 was called the MR-S in the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM).

So what does MR-S stand for?

This is actually quite simple – the S is for “Spyder” (aka convertible). While the previous generation MR2s could be purchased with removable targa tops, this was the first to have a soft-top convertible roof in a similar vein to the Mazda Miata/MX-5.

This makes even more sense when you consider that the car was called the “Toyota MR2 Spyder” in North America.

Therefore, MR-S pays homage to the “Mid-Ship Runabout” name of the earlier cars, with clear indication of its convertible nature as well.

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