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.
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?
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.