This. Toyota has been insanely consistent with their story throughout the past several years. It shocks me that people think Toyota's reasoning for codevelopment is because of a lack of their own ability. However the MR2 story is one that puzzles me, and in order to have an idea, I think it's fitting to go back on Toyota's sports car history and why they codeveloped some of their cars.
They've resorted to codeveloping for the given reasons (in chronological order):
1) The A80 Supra was a sales flop, despite it being an absolute masterpiece of a car. The painful demise of the A80 put Toyota's willingness to build sports cars into question, especially after the advent of the bubble popping in Japan in the 90's.
2) The Lexus LFA buried the notion of Toyota building their own sports cars (at least for the foreseeable future).
3) But given the two above points, Toyota was going to get back into their groove of making unique sports cars in the late 2000's with the FT-HS Concept and a solely-developed 86. It would have been a partner to the MR2 Spyder and the Celica. But we had the Great Financial Crisis...
4) So now you have a very
risk-averse Toyota that is hesitant on building sports cars on their own. With the rise of enthusiast-minded executives at Toyota (like their own CEO who has become a legendary figure worldwide, Akio Toyoda) who sought to revive Toyota to their former glory in excitement while still maintaining their reputation of quality, dependability, and reliability. He mandates that there are "no more boring cars", and is responsible for an onslaught of things, like their newer sports cars.
5) Remember, the 86 was going to be a complete Toyota-only project. The idea was initially green-lit by everyone in Toyota, except for company accountants. At the time (we're talking late 2000's), the supposed "old guard" who stubbornly put the company's financials first, rightly worried if Toyota will be able to even make any money on the car or at the very least not have the project be a complete flop. They had a point, as their last few sports car projects were madly expensive and also ended up being flops sales-wise. Subaru came in the picture and the project was green-lit (after a lot of attempts in convincing Subaru).
6) Lo and behold, the 86 and the BRZ became a thing and they sold like nothing else out there. The people were finally buying a Toyota sports car in insane numbers, even if it wasn't a fully Toyota project. The customers were especially happy because this was an offering that no other company offered bar Mazda with the Miata, but this was more practical, and less expensive. This gave Toyota a huge rejuvenation boost with their sports cars, and people started asking for a certain legendary nameplate to return.
7) We all know the story of the GR Supra. No available platform made sense for Toyota to use on their GR Supra, be it the RC or the LC platform. Toyota lacked an inline-six, which was the biggest request that focus groups made. Toyota was already in a relationship with BMW from a few years back. BMW wanted to codevelop a 2nd generation i8, Toyota wanted something more organic. Toyota ended up getting what they wanted and BMW revived the Z4. I delve into the GR Supra codevelopment story in other posts. But there I address people's woes about the GR Supra not being a fully-fledged Toyota. If you wanted Toyota to build an inline-six it would cost them a least half a billion dollars or dare I say more. To not be able to amortize that engine among other cars would then be idiotic, and you'd have a car that costs more than TWICE than what it costs now. And that's just the least of it. Toyota asks people to trust them and to try it out and that it's a Toyota in its own right. In my opinion, Toyota was right to go down this direction. It made the most logical sense after seeing the A80 literally languishing, and the GTR and NSX being overpriced to high hell, and Toyota did try making it their own with what they were codeveloping with, and god damn it's a good sports car.
8) Now the GR Supra happened to be a sales success, because Toyota was again, right. But this time, it was more serious, because people were buying these in massive numbers. The A90 sold more units in approximately 2 years, than the A80 did in 8. If the 86 wasn't a sign that people wanted Toyota sports cars wasn't a fluke, then the GR Supra proved that people were craving more enthusiast-oriented Toyota products. With Toyoda-san and the enthusiasts at the helm, Toyota looked to become a bastion for fun.
9) With the success of the 86 and GR Supra, it was looking like the argument of the bean counters started to weaken. Before they were worried that there wouldn't be a business case for a Toyota sports cars, but now people want to buy them. There is a visible customer base that don't want a Ford or a Chevy, they didn't want a Porsche, nor did they want a Mazda. They wanted a Toyota. Toyota is not the kind of company that would want to codevelop everything, it's obvious, but even when they had to codevelop their sports cars, they made it as unique to Toyota as possible, and delivered. As Toyota moved to make more enthusiast-oriented products across Toyota and Lexus, you'd have the company accountants interjecting, as well as members of the old guard. Toyoda-san did something completely unorthodox in Japanese tradition, and straight-up fired these people, some of them who had worked there for many decades. At the end of the day, it was his name that was being put on his cars, and his vision was something that was right, and everyone was a winner. The internal power struggle was over.
10) Just almost a year after the GR Supra was released, there was talk of an A100 GR Supra being in planning stages. A70TTR from SupraMkV.com
even asked users what they wanted. Some wanted Toyota to build the GR Supra on their own, some liked the idea of codeveloping with Mazda, and some were okay with the BMW platform. I was the in the latter camp, as I love
the B58 engine, but wouldn't mind if Toyota built it on their own with their own reworked version of the B58 and call it something like G30E-GTS. Most people however, wanted a manual transmission, which the A90 lacked at launch, and it is going to be here in late 2022. Toyota asked customers to buy it, and they did, and they wanted a manual. This is evidence that Toyota puts their words into actions.
11) All in all, after the success of the 86 and GR Supra, you then had the release of the following products, which were like the GR Yaris, GR86, TRD Camry and Avalon (yeah I know not as crazy as the others) the soon-to-be-released GR Corolla, and the GR Super Sport hypercar which admittedly is in limbo. The 2nd generation LFA looks to be a thing, and we have promises of more RWD products, even if they aren't sports cars. Then we have a whole host of REALLY cool BEV, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid products like the RAV4 Prime and other future products. Finally, they released the GR GT3 which they've even dispelled the Mazda rumors. These are just a few products, and I haven't even mentioned the LC500, IS500, and the RC F soldiering on.
Given this rundown, we now ponder about the MR2.
The rumor of the MR2 having that 2.8 or 3.0L TTV6 is a really weird one because we have seen absolutely zero indication that this engine is even a thing. However if it does happen to be real, and Toyota does use that engine across multiple products, then I may see it become a thing. Next is the question of the platform. I can see future GR86's, GR Supras, and Lexus products be on ONE big RWD platform family. The MR2 completely goes against all of this. Does Toyota think that it makes sense to invest in a mid-engine platform, given that a ton of people are buying their cars? Or is this an even tougher case to make than the GR Supra and GR86? It remains to be seen. If it goes EV, I could see them building it on their own, but maybe with Porsche going EV with their next generation 718 Boxster and Cayman they could codevelop? I hope that Toyota does build it on their own, but I can understand the need to codevelop a MR2. However I expect for Toyota to start putting sports cars on their own platform in the future.