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2003 Toyota MR2 Spyder

  • 2003 Toyota MR2 Spyder Base Convertible

    Base Convertible

    • MAX MPG
      33
    • SEATS
      2
    • HP/TORQUE
      138/125
    • ENGINE
      1.8L I4
    • MSRP
      $25,645
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  • Review

2003 Toyota MR2 Spyder Review

One of the most fun-to-drive vehicles within this price range.

Reviewed by Automotive on

Overview

The 2003 Toyota MR2 Spyder is a two-seat, coupe-styled sport car in its second generation. All models have a mid-engine rear-drive layout. The second generation, from 1999 to 2007, was completely redesigned. In North America, it was renamed the MR2 Spyder. The hardtop is eliminated, and only convertible models are available. The exterior is dominated by aerodynamic curves, the large side air intakes, and gapping grille on the lower portion of the front end below over-large headlights. Toyota increases power to a 1.8-liter four-cylinder, and the automatic transmission is eliminated, leaving the choice of a five-speed manual or a six-speed sequential manual. A six-speed manual is available in Europe only. The 2003 Toyota MR2 is known for its sporty handling and its fun-to-drive feel. Toyota made several changes to the new models, most notably improving the manual gearbox for faster shifting.

The Range

Body Styles: coupe convertible
Engines: 1.8-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed manual, six-speed auto-shift manual
Models: Toyota MR2 Spyder

What's New

The 2003 Toyota MR2 Spyder made a number of changes. The manual gearbox in the SMT receives a six ratio for faster shifting. A new underbody brace is installed, and it gets new springs and dampers. Cruise control becomes available, and the front end is redesigned and fog lights become standard. The rear gets a large exhaust tip, and the car is given 16-inch rear wheels with larger tires. The side air intakes receive a matching color. Inside, the instrument gauges are also remodeled and new seats are installed. New colors are added to the lineup. A power antenna is added.

Exterior

The two-door compact coupe features a stylish rounded front end with a gaping grille beneath the hood and prominent headlights encased at the head of the flared hood-sides. The massive side intakes give it an even sportier look. The tires are moved to the corners, giving it minimum overhand and an athletic look. In the front are 15-inch tires and newly-added 16-inch tires in the rear, both with alloy wheels. The top folds back flat and a wind deflector is located behind the seats.

Interior

The 2003 Toyota MR2 Spyder seats two in front bucket seats and can feel cramped. The control layout is simple and well within reach given the dimensions of the driver area. It comes with several standard features including leather-wrapped steering wheel, aluminum pedals, a four-speaker sound system with CD player and cassette player, air-conditioning, power windows, doors, and locks, and tilt steering.

Performance & Handling

The only engine option for 2003 is a 138-hp, 1.8-liter, dual-overhead-cam four-cylinder. This can be paired with the standard five-speed manual or a six-speed auto-shift manual with overdrive and auto-manual. A fully automatic version is not available and on the optional gearbox a single shifter replaces the clutch pedal. According to Toyota, the MR2 Spyder can go from zero to 60 in under seven seconds, which is pretty good when the low price is taken into account. It handles surprisingly well also, making moves akin to a far pricier Boxster. All around, it is a lot of fun to drive. Comfort is moderate to good, but bumpy roads can be felt.

Safety

Standard safety features on the 2003 Toyota MR2 Spyder include anti-lock brakes, daytime running lights, and the required front-impact airbags. Other safety features include daytime running lights, fog lights, front seatbelt pretensioners, ignition disable, a panic alarm, and a series of warning signals for vehicle functions.

EPA Fuel Economy

Toyota MR2 Spyder: 25/32 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Performance
  • Handling
  • Style
  • Price

You Won't Like

  • Not quite as fast as it looks
  • Interior room
  • Cargo space
  • Getting in and out

Sum Up

One of the most fun-to-drive vehicles within this price range.

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