Putting A 2ZZ Into A Toyota MR2 Makes It Better Than A Lotus Elise

While the popular opinion says that Miata is always the answer, people in the know always said that the last Toyota MR2 Roadster was actually the more exciting sports car.

The mid-engined layout along with a lightweight construction and a sorted chassis meant that the Toyota offered a purer driving experience but its design never really caught on with customers.

The main issue however was the 1ZZ engine, which left a lot to be desired in terms of power and plagued some of the early cars with reliability issues. And that’s where the 2ZZ-GE engine comes into the spotlight, as it’s the most popular engine swap currently in the small but passionate community of the MR2 Roadster.

The Yamaha-designed 2ZZ is still an 1.8-liter four-cylinder but unlike the factory-installed engine, it featured a variable lift system called VVTL-i (like Honda’s VTEC). It was originally fitted in models like the Celica GT-S, the Corolla T-Sport and of course the Lotus Elise 111R, offering up to 189hp and revving up to 8,200rpm. The high cam kicked in at around 6,200rpm but that can be changed depending on the tune of the engine.

Toyota never offered the MR2 with the 2ZZ which is a crying shame because the combination of the two sounds just perfect. As Matt Farah says on the video below, a 2ZZ-swapped MR2 Roadster is actually a better car than the Lotus Elise and perhaps that’s why we never got one straight from the factory.

VIDEO

  • Shobin Drogan

    I like almost everything about the mrs, but I just cannot get over how silly it looks, no matter what modifications you do to it, it always looked strangeaf.

    • Bash

      Exactly!!

    • Yeah, Toyota youth reaching program is a bit silly. They turn Celica into Camry engine mess and emasculate the MR.

  • I’D LOVE TO SEE WHO’S VIDEO BEFORE CLICKING ON AN ARTICLE. WE ALL HAVE OUR FAVORITES AND OUR NOT SO FAVORITES. DeMURO IS ALWAYS PICTURED IN THE LEAD PHOTO SO HATERS CAN NOT CLICK (THOUGHT FOR SOME REASON THEY STILL DO) WHY NOT OFFER THAT OPTION FOR OTHER READERS CARSCOOPS? IF CLICKS GET THE SITE POINTS MAYBE THE BEST THING TO DO IS NOT CLICK UNTIL THE POLICY IS CHANGED.

  • LWOAP

    I prefer the 1991 MR2. It looks so much better and less dorky and let’s not forget those pop up headlights. Also, if I recall correctly, there was an ’89 model near me for a few months looking a bit run down. It makes me wonder what happened to it.

  • ramish rambarran

    This is a wonderful engine, 2ZZGE.
    I have a stock 2003 JDM Corolla Fielder Wagon Automatic (Tiptronic 4-speed) that comes with this engine. It is doing 175,000kms (109,375 mi).
    The manual version is quite a trip.
    Ramish.

  • Nick099

    Drove both the MR and Celica GTS back in the day. The MR looked better in the metal but was slow. The GTS, though FWD, opened up above 4000 rpm nicely.It was quick. It was stupid for Toyota not to put the GTS engine in the MR. Also the MR had only enough storage for a toothbrush. Take an MR today, do the swap and add bigger wheels. Bet it would look pretty good.

  • SteersUright

    Awesome car for a young enthusiast to start out in. He modified this one perfectly.

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