Is Toyota’s Sports EV Electric Sports Car Concept a New MR2?

After years of seemingly ignoring battery-electric vehicles, Toyota is making an about-face. The company recently dropped a whole slew of electric concept cars covering a wide array of segments. There’s an electric Tacoma/Tundra pickup truck, for example, as well as an FJ Cruiser-looking SUV. But the brand’s EV plans include more than just SUVs and trucks. Toyota also sprinkled some electric sports cars amongst the 15 EVs it showed. And that could mean the Toyota MR2’s resurrection is nigh.

The LFA successor won’t be the only Toyota electric sports car

The orange Toyota Sports EV electric sports car concept next to some other EV concepts
Toyota Sports EV electric sports car concept | Toyota

Technically, one of the electric sports car concepts Toyota showed off isn’t a Toyota. And despite its name, ‘Lexus Electrified Sports EV,’ it’s not a sports car per se. It’s more of an electric supercar, Roadshow says. Specifically, an electric successor to the beloved Lexus LFA, with a claimed 435-mile range and a 0-60 mph time of just over two seconds.

But at least for affordable sports car fans, the star of the electric show is the Toyota Sports EV. As of this writing, Toyota hasn’t released any details about its powertrain or even its layout. However, there are a few things we can reasonably infer based on its design and some of the brand’s comments.

Firstly, the Toyota Sports EV might use a less-extreme version of the Lexus LFA successor’s powertrain, Car and Driver says. That would keep development costs down while still delivering solid performance. Secondly, as an electric sports car, the Sports EV likely has rear-wheel drive, both to save weight and deliver a proper sporty experience. And finally, the concept car’s short overhangs, compact size, and overall proportions suggest that it’s a mid-engine two-seater.

If that last part sounds familiar, it’s because there once was a Toyota sports car like that: the MR2.

Does the Toyota Sports EV signal an MR2 revival?

A gray 1992 Toyota MR2
1992 Toyota MR2 | National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images

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Years before the Porsche Boxster, the Toyota MR2 served as one of the most affordable mid-engine sports cars. But it wasn’t just affordable: it was fun. The second-gen SW20, for example, was often called ‘the poor man’s Ferrari.’ And the third-gen MR2 Spyder isn’t too far off from a Lotus Elise.

OK, but while the Toyota MR2 is a well-missed sports car, what does the Sports EV concept have to do with it? Well, for one, this new electric sports car concept appears to be mid-engine, just like the MR2. Also, the Sports EV appears to have a removable roof, not unlike the first two MR2 generations’ Targa roofs. So, on a basic level, the Sports EV channels the MR2 spirit.

And speaking of spirit, that’s what Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda wants in these new electric sports cars. It’s well-known that Toyoda is a driving enthusiast (Exhibit A: the GR Yaris), so making an electric sports car fits his style. Furthermore, during the EV reveal, he said that he wanted “a car that I want to keep driving forever! It should be environmentally-friendly…but straight up fun to drive!”

In addition, Toyota MR2 revival rumors have swirled for years. The most recent rumor suggested that Porsche could step in and help develop a 345-395-hp hybrid fourth-gen MR2. Admittedly, because Toyota hasn’t released the Sports EV’s specs, something like that could still be possible. But regardless, it shows that there’s interest on both the business and consumer side for an MR2 return.

So, even if the Toyota Sports EV doesn’t go into production with an MR2 badge, it might still carry on the mid-engine sports car’s legacy.

When will we know more?

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On that note, Toyota hasn’t confirmed when or if the Sports EV will go into production. If the electric sports car ends up using Toyota’s planned solid-state battery tech, it might arrive later rather than sooner.

However, Toyota also hasn’t said that it’s not planning a production Sports EV. Toyoda merely said that “’most’ of the models” previewed will arrive “’in the next few years,’” Roadshow reports. But considering how often an MR2 revival rumor springs up, hopefully, an official statement won’t take quite that long to arrive.

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