Can you guess which car is mine??
Okay, let me first start off with my initial impressions of the MR2...
WOW...that's the first thing that comes to mind. Seriously. I haen't had a car put a grin on my face like the MR2 did today ever since I boosted the Focus. I don't even know where to begin. Everything about this car is perfect.
Let's talk about the handling...
I've driven an SVTF, as well as my cousin's Miata. Both of those cars are top notch in their class. But as soon as I took the MR2 on the first cloverleaf on-ramp, my eyes got as big as saucers and I had a grin the size of Texas! The grip...it's almost endless! The posted speed was 25mph and I was doing almost 60...conservatively. It just wouldn't let go. It didn't understeer and there was no snap-oversteer like the MKII MR2. Just endless, balanced, confidence-inspiring grip. It give a whole new meaning to "handling on rails". A better comparison would be to say it handles like a go-cart. You have to actually drive one to believe that this kind of performance could come from a 25k car (25k when it was new...I got it for 12k used).
The power delivery...
The car is, like the name implies, is mid-engine/rwd. I've never drive this combo before so it was all new to me. At first, I had a FF mindset still lingering from the Focus. So I launched around 2k (It was kind of damp from rain). The car bogged a bit, then took off. Okay, good. So then I try switching to rwd thinking lauching a bit higher to try to break the grip of the rear tires...still nothing, the rear squatted a bit, and took off fairly quick. So at this point I'm like..."Damn". Finally I launched at 4500 still trying to break the rear loose. The car squatted again, only this time took off like it was pissed at the world. No tire spin at all. It snapped my neck back and pushed me further into the bucket seat. "Surely this car doesn't only have 140hp/125lb/tq." I thought to myself. The combination of the engine/drivetrain set-up, along with the tampon-like weight of the car allows you to launch like a bat out of hell. I like this very much... The car just felt faster than the engine specs portrayed on paper. Now I see why this car runs mid 15's stock. The close gear ratios keep it in the peak power range, too.
And speaking of the shifter, the damn thing is TIGHT! It makes my Steeda shifter feel like it came out of a Kia or something. The gates are close and the throw is short and solid. The leather-wrapped knob adds to the flavor. Toyota did a great job on this.
And the engine...the thing sits literally inches from your head, so you hear all of the mechanical noises, which sound beautiful. The exhaust note has a nice growl to it. If I had to compare it, I'd swear it sounded like the 350z stock exhaust, minus two cylinders.
The car sits very low. By low, I mean that if I really wanted to, I could probably drive under a semi-rig like they did in F&F...and this is at stock height! The car looks like it just swallows you up. My ears are about 4 inches above the door sill and I'm 5'10". It's crazy.
Now for the quirks...
The seats. They look firm and grippy, and they are. They lead you to believe they are some of the most comfortable seats you've ever been in.
1 hour later...
You can't help but notice the total lack of lumbar support in these things. It was a 4 hour drive back to Biloxi from Montgomery and after the first hour, I was ready to call it quits. I'm still sore. All of that aside though, the seats hold you really well in the twisty bits.
The storage space...
Or lack thereof...
There some space up in the "frunk" (front trunk) for you to store maybe a couple backsacks, but nothing else. You could probably gain an extra cubic foot or so of space by removing the spare tire, but I decided to leave it in to keep the car balanced. There is also a storage bin behind the seats that is enough room to house 3 semi-full backsacks and nothing more. I guess I wound be making any extended trips with my wife in this car. Oh well.
It was funny driving it around. Folks would speed up to me and then slow down as they passed me just to get a closer look at the car. At one of the rest stops in Alabama, this older gentleman walked up to me and said that he passed me on the interstate and kept trying to figure out what kind of car it was. I explained to him what it was and let him sit inside of it and rev the engine a bit. He kept raving about how great it looked. He thought it was some sort of Porshe at first.
Overall, I'm greatly pleased with my purchase. It was sad to see the Focus go, but I felt right at home in the MR2 as soon as I sat in it. I don't have any plans for FI on this car. I was leaning more towards a 2ZZ swap/6-speed (Celica GTS) swap and build that up for serious NA power. With the car only weighing 2195lbs, I doubt I'll really want/need more than 200whp. There are folks on the Spyder forums running mid-low 13's with just a 2ZZ swap and no internal work. But first and formost, I'm buying every bit of suspension goodies I can get. Then it's the $2000 hardtop, then I can start looking at the swap. It's going to be fun trying to learn the ins and outs of this car, as well as having a fresh slate to start with. I'm definitely going to be hanging around here still, especially since a lot of the folks on Spyderchat are dics.
Opinions or comments are welcome[8D]