Toyota MR2 SW20: The Ultimate Guide to Toyota's Mid-Engine Beast

Avishka Chandeepa

Posted 29 May 2024


In 1989, the MR SW11, the only mid-engined sports car from the Japan domestic market (JDM) underwent its full model change giving birth to the new and improved MR20 SW20 that was just as fun to drive and surviving twice as long in production with a few improvements and iterations along the way! 

The second generation Toyota MR2 came with a larger 2.0-liter engine, a slightly larger rounded body, and an 80mm longer wheelbase. The engine was the same as the Toyota Celica, adopting a variable intake system (ACIS-II) and generating 165ps with a straight 4 DOHC 16 valve 2-liter 3S-GE engine. The same engine was fitted with an intercooler, making it the strongest domestically produced 2-liter class at the time, the 3SGTE managed to produce a whopping 225ps. 

  •  Model 1 (1989 October – 1991 December) 
  •  Model 2 (1991 December – 1993 October) 
  •  Model 3 (1993 October – 1996 June) 
  •  Model 4 (1996 June – 1997 December) 
  •  Model 5 (1997 December – 1999 August)


Purchasing and importing from Japan.

The MR2, both SW11 and SW20, can be imported into the US, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and many other countries mainly due to it being over 25 years old. Unlike the Supra or the Chaser though, the MR2 is a much more affordable and cheaper option if you’re a Toyota fan. 

Plenty of them are coming up in the Japanese auto auctions ready to be bought and imported. I wish I could give you an estimate of how much it is or how much it would cost, but it depends on the vehicle’s condition and mileage and more importantly, the market after this article is published. But, if you’re interested in importing your own MR2 SW20, don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll give you an outline of the costs to be expected and get you the perfect one for you!

Toyota MR2 SW20


Model 1 (1989 October – 1991 December)

It was released with an exterior intended to minimize air turbulence with a two-stage rear spoiler and tail lamp fins to improve lift and crosswind performance. All cars were equipped with a T-bar roof while the interior had a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and shift knob. Everything inside was made with high-quality materials. 

The GT had genuine leather seats made using Ecsaine leather as standard in the GT (turbo version) The MR2 GT series produced 225ps/6000rpm with 31kg/3200rpm (maximum horsepower/maximum torque). The MR2 G series produced 165ps/6800rpm and 19.5kg/48000rpm. The GT and G-LTD were also equipped with 6J front and 7J rear aluminum wheels while all models were equipped with 4-wheel disc brakes as standard.


Vehicle Type   
4 speed A/T-SW20-ACPQF(L)SW20-ACPQF
Total Length (mm)417041704170
Overall Width (mm)169516951695
Overall Height (mm)124012401240
Wheel Base (mm)240024002400
Tread Front (mm)147014701470
Tread Rear (mm)145014501450
Minimum Ground Clearance (mm)135135135
Vehicle Weight (kg)12401180<1210>1160<1190>
Engine Model3S-GTE3S-GE3S-GE
Inner Diameter x Stroke (mm x mm)86.0×86.086.0×86.086.0×86.0
Displacement (cc)199819981998
Compression Ratio8.810.110.1
Max Output (ps/rpm)225/6000165/6800165/6800
Max Torque (kg-m/rpm)31.0/320019.5/480019.5/4800
Gear Ratio 1st3.2303.285<3.643>3.285<3.643>
Gear Ratio 2nd1.9131.960<2.008>1.960<2.008>
Gear Ratio 3rd1.2581.322<1.296>1.322<1.296>
Gear Ratio 4th0.9181.028<0.892>1.028<0.892>
Gear Ratio 5th0.7310.8200.820
Reduction Ratio4.2854.176<2.892>4.176<2.892>
Suspension FrontStrut-type coil springStrut-type coil springStrut-type coil spring
Suspension RearStrut-type coil springStrut-type coil springStrut-type coil spring
Front BrakeVentilated discVentilated discVentilated disc
Rear BrakeVentilated discVentilated discVentilated disc
Front Tire195/60R14 85H195/60R14 85H195/60R14 85H
Front Wheel14X6J PCD114.3 Aluminum14X6J PCD114.3 Aluminum14X6J PCD114.3 Steel
Rear Tire205/60R14 87H205/60R14 87H205/60R14 87H
Rear Wheel14X7JJ PCD114.3 Aluminum14X7JJ PCD114.3 Aluminum14X7JJ PCD114.3 Steel
Vehicles with T-bar roof[SW20-AJMZZ][SW20-AJMQF(L)][SW20-AJMQF]
A/T Vehicles-<SW20-ACPQF(L)><SW20-ACPQF>


These data are relatively unchanged throughout the iterations. Model 2 (1991 December – 1993 October) A new turbo model variant was introduced called the GT-S. Slight changes to the body were made by enlarging the front spoiler, changing the color of the side moldings, and changing the design on the lower back finish panel. Recaro seats and peach steering were optional features available in the GT, GT-S, and G-limited. 

A canister purge control was installed in all models to improve fuel evaporative emission control and TRC (Traction Control) was available as an option for the turbo MR2. The suspensions were improved and the clutch was redesigned. The E153 transmission was equipped with a Limited Slip Differential as standard, and a triple cone synchro mechanism was added to the 2nd and 3rd gears. The undercarriage has been greatly improved from Type I.


Specification2000 TWINCAM 16V NA2000 TWINCAM 16V TURBO
Vehicle Model5-speed M/TSW20-ACMZZ
 4-speed A/T-
Length (mm)41704170
Width (mm)16951695
Height (mm)12351235
Wheelbase (mm)24002400
Track (mm) - Front14701470
Track (mm) - Rear14501450
Minimum Ground Clearance (mm)130130
Curb Weight (kg)12901270
Bore × Stroke (mm × mm)86.0 × 86.086.0 × 86.0
Displacement (cc)19981998
Compression Ratio8.88.8
Max Power (ps/rpm)225/6000225/6000
Max Torque (kg-m/rpm)31.0/320031.0/3200
Gear Ratios  
1st Gear3.233.23
2nd Gear1.9131.913
3rd Gear1.2581.258
4th Gear0.9180.918
5th Gear0.7310.731
Reverse Gear3.5453.545
Final Reduction Ratio4.2854.285
FrontStrut with coil springStrut with coil spring
RearStrut with coil springStrut with coil spring
Front BrakesVentilated DiscVentilated Disc
Rear BrakesVentilated DiscVentilated Disc
Tires and Wheels  
Front Tires195/55R15 84V195/55R15 84V
Front Wheels15X6J PCD114.3 Aluminum15X6J PCD114.3 Aluminum
Rear Tires225/50R15 91V225/50R15 91V
Rear Wheels15X7JJ PCD114.3 Aluminum15X7JJ PCD114.3 Aluminum


Model 3 (1993 October – 1996 June)

The body was reinforced from the inside. The back panel, the spoiler and the interior shape and design of the seats were also significantly changed with the model 3 release of the MR2. Toyota also introduced the “Sports ABS'' which was now an option for the GT series. 

The engine was overhauled to a completely different beast. The GT series had its turbine and fuel injection system changed along with improved intake and exhaust valves. The GT series produced 245ps/6000rpm and 31kg/4000rpm (maximum horsepower/maximum torque) The G series produced 180ps/6800rpm with 19.5kg/4800rpm (maximum horsepower/maximum torque). 


Engine type3S-GTE3S-Limited/G
Compression ratio8.511.0
Maximum output (ps/rpm)245/6,000180/7,000<170/6,000>
Maximum torque (kg-m/rpm)31.0/4,00019.5/ 6,000


Model 4 (1996 June – 1997 December)

No major changes. All models now came with double airbags and Sports ABS as standard features. It also had some safety changes. 


Model 5 (1997 December – 1999 August)

The fifth model came with an adjustable large rear spoiler, which would give you a downforce of 180km/50kg at the most upright position. This also bought interior minor changes to the door lining, seats, meter panel text color, shift knob, and steering wheel. The NA (G series) model was equipped with a new VVTi (Continuously Variable Valve Timing Mechanism) engine that generated 200ps/21 kg. Changes to the brakes were also made


Ready to Get Started?

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