MR2 handling
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Initial Reactions

With the engine behind you, a very low centre of gravity and some decent rubber, the turn-in has to be seen (or felt) to be believed.

The car is not awesomely powerful, no gut wrench Cosworth like acceleration here, but MR2 is nippy enough to show a clean pair of heels to all of the 'shopping' cars out there. The MR2 has enough poke to make it tricky for the 'big boyz' to get past.

But get into the twisty bits and you'll be able to watch them all fall over the horizon in the rear view mirror.

Reputation

The early MR2 MK2 (SW20) had a reputation for flicking you off backwards. Our first one never showed this (but the suspension was modified). Toyota subsequently re-engineered the suspension setup, in about '92 and again in '94. Our '94 model was significantly different to our '90 model.

Reality

I think the reality is that whilst there is no doubt that the MR2 can flick you off backwards, part of it has got to be your own fault ...... it doesn't just do it for fun.

By putting decent rubber on each of the corners and driving properly, then the MR2 is well behaved. However, if you go into a corner and lift off big time, then you're about to get everything you deserve.

My current setup is pretty good from a driving point of view. It keeps me interested on my daily 55 mile each way run to work. If there is a criticism, it is that the setup is too stiff for UK roads (which are full of pot holes and drain covers half an inch below the tarmac).

In the wet, the MR2 will spin the rear wheels, particularly as mine doesn't have a limited slip diff.

Generally, the handling is very neutral, with the car responding to weight transfer nicely.

Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit

I was fortunate enough to have 2 laps around the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit. It was dusk, and I'd only ever been around the lap on a computer simulator before. At least there weren't any other cars out.

The first lap was pretty tame, but in the second pushed a bit harder.

Coming out of the pit lane and into Maggots was easy, then through the Becketts sequence of curves, looking for the apexes in the dusk as tricky. After the first lap, the tyres obviously had warmed a bit and in retrospect, we cornered on rails and could have pushed a lot harder.

Down the Hangar straight into Stowe, braking fairly early and then onto the power. I was surprised how far you go round on the current Stowe. The tyres were squealing but the handling was totally neutral. Once again I wished for a few more laps as I am sure there was a lot more to come as I had plenty of 'spare' tarmac on the exit.

Into the Vale and onto Club, with the confidence building. This led to two things, entry on the wrong line and compounded by not braking hard enough. Turning in quite hard at speed (off the brakes by now, and feathering the throttle) we under-steered until sufficient speed got scrubbed off. Sorting it out after this was completely non-dramatic as we flicked back to the right and powered up the hill.

The new Abbey is quite sharp. Using all of the road on the way in and braking hard allowed a comfortable line through the corner and onto Bridge. We went through Bridge still accelerating before braking for the complex.

Coming through Luffield 1 was nice, accelerating all the way, then during Luffield 2 I had the impression that the corner was closing (in reality I had loads of road left), so I lifted. This induced some over-steer, with the back stepping out progressively ...... really nice to know. Once it was drifting the car's attitude could be changed on the throttle.

I found that these couple of laps ( I wish there were more) gave me a lot of confidence that the MR2 would not bite me big time, especially when there was decent grip.

Tyre Choice

Up until recently, its been Yoko A520's all round. Once again, I've been to Silverstone and had the chance to put her through the cones on a deserted bit of runway. Doing figure of 8's around the cones, it was easy to use the power to get the back out. Because of the stiff setup, my bum was telling me loads and it was easy to get into the next part without overcooking it. I didn't mind burning the rubber, as I new I was changing the rears later that day!

Into the tyre shop, only to find that the tyres I had ordered were on a 6 week lead time, so now I have a pair of Avon ZZ1's on the rear. First impressions are that they are not as stable as even 'slick' A520's. Maybe I'll try tweaking tyre pressures to see if I can improve it. I am currently running them at 28 psi cold.