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'91 Toyota Mr2 Grows Up, Shows Its Claws

Time:2018-04-16 20:50Turbochargers information Click:

toyota Grows shows Claws

Inside, the car is cozy, not cramped, with ergonomics that allow driver responses to be stirred, not shaken. Red needles on black dials; a curved, hooded dash, and a gear shift with the short throw of a video game form a layout that these days has become almost generic.

Forward vision is slightly hampered by the upper line of a windshield that drops unexpectedly close to eyebrow level. Also, there are visual distractions of curved glass, heavy pillars, headrests and even the rear spoiler for those who like to glance quickly over the shoulder to check the blind spot before changing lanes.

One must bear in mind that this is a pure sports car, and that requires undeniable driver and passenger compromises.

Front and rear trunk space, although enlarged from last year, remain a squeeze with about 6.5 cubic feet. Do not expect to slide in and out of the MR2.

The mechanical high of the MR2 is a new and improved turbocharger that winds up earlier and faster to reduce turbo lag - that uncomfortable delay when most turbochargers are roused from rest and take their time answering instructions from the accelerator.

But by riding the clutch a smidge, by holding power from the MR2's Celica engine around 3,000 rpm, this turbocharger starts spinning soon after the get-go. In second gear, it is all spooled up and blowing a gale.

Then there is the handling.

Among imagists, it is known as point and squirt. One points the car into a corner or curve. One adds a firm squirt of gas pedal. The car dives in and through the corner beneath perfect control that one may presume is more yours than mechanical.

Among those who prefer comparisons, the steering feel and overall balance of the vehicle - thanks to Gurney's input - is as grand as anything found on Nissan's 300ZX, the Lotus Elan or any Porsche - and at the mass production level, they are about as good as it gets.

In a rear-drive car, the control tendency obviously is to over-steer. But the tail-wagging is quite predictable and eminently correctable by a steering twitch here, a power adjustment there.

The MR2 comes as a T-top or coupe. The unturbocharged version, automatic or manual transmission, contains a four-cylinder, 2.2-liter engine, while the Turbo, manual transmission only, is fitted with a 2-liter. Safety equipment includes a driver-side air bag as standard; an anti-lock braking system is optional.

Our test car was a prototype that came with caveats from Toyota. The gearbox will be a growler. There will be some rear end harmonics, possibly from exhaust plumbing. The turbocharger has a whine.

Credit all these write-ups, Toyota explained, to Gurney who spent several days trying to kill this particular car at Willow Springs.

That it survived at all is a testimonial to the MR2's basic design and inherent durability.

Yet it really would be a shame to fix that turbo whine.

When it whistles, it makes you feel that you could be at Le Mans giving Dan Gurney a run for his francs.

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