MR2 Tuning

"Hey Mister?"

The early MK1 MR2 was a dream to drive and looked more space age than any other car of its time.

After the early teething problems of the first Mk2's were sorted and a turbo model was introduced the MR2 retained its sport car reputation.

The short wheelbase, light body and low stance along with the unusual mid mounted engine configuration helped the car achieve a good reputation as a track day car.

The 1.6 litre twin cam engine produced a very respectable 132bhp and a supercharged version took this to nearly 150bhp. There are still MK1 MR2 racing leagues running today with the car achieving a classic status.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

Many criticised the balance of the mkII MR2 and noted it was not quite as agile as it forebear. Sadly not all countries got the turbocharged engine which took power to 250bhp making this a very rapid car indeed. Engine swaps on the 2.2 and 2.0 NASP models to the turbo engine are popular among our members.

An aftermarket ECU and boost controller will increase power to around 350bhp if you also go with fast road cams and sports exhaust and induction kit. The ApexI power FC seems to be the popular choice. The standard engine can cope with a maximum boost level of around 15psi but if you get the engine fully rebuilt you can get more. The 1993 onwards models have better handling with wider rear wheels and some suspension alterations.

The following mods are usually carried out by our members, decide how far you want to go before you begin.

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Exhaust, Panel air filter, Remap, lighter flywheel

Typical stage 2 mods often include: Fast road cam, ported and polished head, fuel injector & fuel pump upgrades, 

Typical stage 3 mods: Engine balancing, forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), competition cam.

The most affordable and certainly the most reliable mid engined car around.

This takes us to the 3rd generation MR2 with a choice of just 1 engine the 143 bhp 1.8 engine. Toyota were pushing economy and sadly turned the MR2 into a hairdressers car. This wouldn't stop a MR2 tuning enthusiast from creating the car that Toyota should have. Again an engine swap would be the best mod on this model with the 2.0 Turbo giving the best power to cost ratio.


We eagerly await a 4th generation MR2 with the rumor mill in overdrive, there is certainly a strong demand for an affordable mid engined sports car. With the newer 2.0 Turbo engines fitted to the Corolla and Auris we are sure that Toyota could recapture the exhilarating spirit of the earlier models.

Read through our tuning articles to see what the pros and cons are of the many tuning options open to you. Join us in our forum and meet up with other MR2 owners where you can chat and swap tuning ideas for your car.

PLEASE HELP: I NEED YOUR DONATIONS TO COVER THE COSTS OF RUNNING THIS SITE AND KEEP IT RUNNING. I do not charge you to access this website and it saves most TorqueCars readers $100's each year - but we are NON PROFIT and not even covering our costs. To keep us running PLEASE Donate here

If you liked this page please share it with your friends, drop a link to it in your favourite forum or use the bookmarking options to save it to your social media profile.


Please use our forums if you wish to ask a tuning question, and please note we do not sell parts or services, we are just an online magazine.

Help us improve, leave a suggestion or tip

Your Constructive comments on this article

2 Responses to “Tuning the Toyota MR2”

  1. TorqueCars says:

    What mods have you done to your MR2? What mods work best, which were the most disappointing and what mods have you got planned for the future? Please share your tips.

  2. Oscar Morales says:

    1988 mr2 1.6L stock no mods yet but will be nice to know what mods in stage 1 will work beter. Thanks.

Member Benefits

Join our forum today and benefit from over 300,000 posts on tuning styling and friendly car banter.

You will also have full access to the modifed car gallery, project car updates and exclusive member only areas.

(All car owners of all ages and from all countries are welcome).

Popular articles

Tuning Diesels
Remapping ECU
double clutching
Safety mods
Induction Kits
Customize a car
Chip Tuning
Insuring Modified Cars
Track day insurance cover
Remap Diesels
Work out your MPG
Unblock a DPF


Low ratio sport gearbox setup and selection.


Crankshafts – a complete performance guide


Lowering the suspension. Ride height adjustments.

Window Tints

How to apply car window tint tinting film.

Heel Toe Gearchange

Master the heel and toe gearchange with our handy driving tips.

2004 Car News

Car News highlights from 2004

MPG Calculator

MPG calculator UK miles per Gallon – calculate MPG