Many have perceived it wrongly. Following the success of its predecessor, the Toyota MR-2 which left such a sweet taste of engineering brilliance in our mouths, the Toyota MR-S didn’t impress as much with its first impression. Unveiled at the end of last millennium, many thought it was rather subtle with its looks while lacking that mean and sleek element that the previous MR-2 possessed.
Well, it’s fair to say that it had fumbled at the first hurdle. Being an elementary school kid then whose bedroom wall was littered with car posters, this was one which certainly did not make the cut at first instance after being head over heels over its elder sibling. Likening it to a car that would have been driven by trophy wives and sassy girls, it just didn’t look quite like something that would be destined to be the next driver’s car.
But we all know what they say, looks can be deceiving and like every other race, all is not lost at the first hurdle. It is how we approach the next few hurdles and complete, better yet win, the race in true style and class. This was exactly what this MR-S was about; the sensation it sends down your spine on its journey to the “finishing line”, putting worth to the oh-so-famous MR-S (as it’s known in Japan) badge that it carries.
Upon realising how thrilling this car could be after putting aside its understated design, many others, myself included, had it shoot straight to the top half of our wish list. Power was also an issue for criticism; as the second generation MR2 had one last hurrah with its SW20 TRD2000GT model. Figures wise, the MR-S was a far cry from what it could potentially be. Not surprisingly then, we have people with the expertise and ingenuity of Kazama to strap on a not so little huffer on this gentle ride to give it a little kick in the butt.
With the TD04HL turbine, governed by a HKS SQV blow-off valve to release any excess boost pressure, being literally at the heart of this car, all that childhood naivety and nightmares of how the baby MR2 was conceived has been erased. This new and reborn MR-S’ block, worked on by the people of Kazama, now sports Wiseco pistons with a HKS 1.2mm metal head gasket clamped in between the head and the block, providing the grit to withstand the force of the turbine.
Air sucked in from the custom Trust and Vis intake system is cooled with a Works Engineering intercooler before forming an inferno in the chambers with the fuel supply department being strengthened with 800cc injectors and a fuel pump by SARD, regulated by a Works Engineering regulator. A Works Engineering down pipe connects the turbo to a Vis custom exhaust system and a HKS Super Dragger muffler while the all-important engine oil is kept from overheating by the AVS oil cooler kit.
The crisp 5-speed transmission remains standard, however, the Trinity Hot Grip racing clutch provides for a smoother engagement while the Works lightened flywheel helps engine revs climb faster than the heavier stock unit would do. With acceleration boosted by a turbocharger and the well sorted transmission, the MR-S stops as fast as it gets off the mark with custom K-Sport twin pot calipers aided with Endless CC-R brake pads at both ends.
Not that its renowned handling needs any more introduction, recognition and improvement; but it benefits so much more from the Aragosta adjustables with a Cusco front strut bar and Yokohama AD07 rubber for the constant irresistible hill climbs and through sweeping bends, taking corners with a more deadly effect and composure than that of a Premier League footballer.
Its minimalist interior sees carbon pieces offering practicality with an edge while the OMP steering and gear knob tells on lookers that driving is taken seriously with A’PEXi meters and a Defi link display offering vital information to the driver. Its exterior though, experiences a radical yet eye-pleasing transformation with a Top Secret front bumper, TRD side skirts and rear bumper, topped off with a Kazama carbon GT wing before being finished off with Kazama decals.
Over the years, seeing what has been done by enthusiasts with Kazama being among them with a car that would have been more likely to be spotted at a local market carrying a housewives’ grocery rather than tearing up lap times at a circuit, the MRS has definitely made a turn for the better and meaner; shaking off its lightweight image to becoming a heavyweight competitor and a force to be reckon with.
Car: Toyota MR-S
Engine: 1ZZ-GE 1.8-litre, 4-cylinder, DOHC VVT-i
Engine Modifications: Wiseco Pistons, HKS 1.2mm Metal Head Gasket, Engine Balancing, Custom Engine Mounting, Works Engineering Down Pipe, Hot 66 Thermal Wrap, Trust & Vis Custom Intake System, 4x Sard 800cc Injectors, Sard Fuel Pump 280l/hr, Works Engineering Fuel Regulator, Redline Complete Si-1 Fuel System Cleaner, Redline Water Wetter Super Coolant, Redline Engine Oil Additives, Redline Racing Gear Oil, Redline Racing Engine Oil, HKS Super Fire Racing Plugs, TD04 HL Turbine, HKS SQV Blow-off Valve, HKS Super Dragger Muffler, Vis Custom Exhaust System, Works Engineering Intercooler, Works Engineering Silicone Hoses & Piping Kits, Works Engineering Radiator Hose, Works Engineering Radiator Cap, AVS Oil Cooler Kit, DMAX Magnetic Oil Sump, Aerospeed Grounding Wires
Transmission: Stock, Works Lightened Flywheel, Trinity Hot Grip Racing Clutch
Brakes: Custom K-Sport Twin Pot, Endless CC-R Brake Pads (front & rear), APP Brake Lining
Chassis/ Suspension: Aragosta adjustable coilovers, Cusco Front Strut Bar
Wheels & Tires: Yokohama Advan Neova AD07
Interior: OMP Steering, OMP Gear Knob, carbon-look interior
Exterior: Minimax Universal Strobe Flash blinking light, Kazama Decals, Top Secret Front Bumper, TRD Side Skirt and Rear Bumper, Chargespeed Bottom Line Kits, Kazama Carbon GT Wing, Kazama Chronomatic
Electronics: A’PEXi Turbo Timer, Pivot Voltage Stabiliser, A’PEXi Meters, Defi Link Display
Peak bhp: 250 @ 6000rpm
Tuner: Kazama Autowork