MR2 Tuning

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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.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Engine Tunes - engine tuning/remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.
  6. Typical stage 1 mods often include: Exhaust, Panel air filter, Engine Tunes/Remapping, 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.

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    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.

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