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Report: Toyota are building Mazda MX-5 and Porsche Boxster rivals


Report: Toyota are building Mazda MX-5 and Porsche Boxster rivals

Toyota are building a Mazda MX5 rival

The future of the affordable sports car may be safe: reports say that Toyota have given the green light for a new small petrol-powered rival for the MX-5, and that’s not all. Aaron Stokes investigates.

If you’d have said at the start of this year that we would be seeing manufacturers planning to increase the number of internal combustion models, I wouldn’t have believed you. However, Toyota's GR division is keen to show us that the small sports car is safe, in both petrol and EV forms.

Since their introduction, the GR Yaris, GR 86 and the GR Supra have been well reviewed and received. This driver-focussed lineup may now be expanded with a new model based on the S-FR concept that never saw real tarmac, only covering digital asphalt in the Gran Turismo game series.

This would not be the first time that Toyota has planned to go back to an old market segment, as back in 2019 they revived one of the most legendary names from the 90s: Supra. However, we cannot forget the controversy where they partnered with BMW during the development. Less controversial was the partnership with Subaru for the GT 86 and GR 86. Does this mean that Toyota could be partnering up with another manufacturer for its next GR model? I think it’s likely.

In recent reports, we have seen Toyota, Mazda and Subaru sign an agreement to co-develop and research engines. From looking at the work Subaru has done with Toyota for the GT 86, this will be a winning combination. By doing this, it will help Toytoa to keep the cost of the production S-FR down as they will be splitting the work and cost, hopefully making the car accessible to more petrolheads. 

Toyota are building a new MR2

FT-Se set to directly challenge to the next-gen EV Porsche Boxster

Toyota S-FR

Toyota is eyeing up the Mazda MX-5 with the S-FR

The only details that are currently available for the powertrain can be found in the Gran Turismo video game. In the game, the car is powered by a 133bhp, 1.5 litre naturally aspirated inline four. There are two added bonuses, coming in the form of a six-speed manual gearbox and the power being sent directly to the rear-wheels. How much of this may transfer over to the production car is yet to be seen. 

However, the evolved S-FR isn’t the only concept from Japan that could take the spot of a compact sports model. The FT-Se is a two-seat electric sports car which gives us a hint of what a successor to the MR2 could look like. For us, if it is anything remotely resembling the FT-Se concept then, Toyota will be onto a winning formula. To see how close to the production version of the FT-Se, we will have to wait until near the end of the decade. This should leave enough time for us to beg Toyota to make the production version as close as possible to the concept.

When it comes to where the FT-Se will sit in the market, unlike the S-FR, it will be looking to be nipping on the heels of the next generation electric Porsche Cayman and Boxster, with a rear-biased dual motor powertrain said to be utilised.

One of the reasons we are having to wait this long is because the Lexus LF-ZC will enter production first which the FT-Se will share its battery with. It is important to remember not to get too excited though, as when Autocar approached Toyota for a comment regarding the S-FR, Toyota declined to comment. Make of this what you will…

Toyota S-FR
Toyota S-FR

However, there is some evidence out there to suggest that the S-FR will be coming, and who do we have to thank for this? Diahatsu. Remember them? They used to sell compact models like the Terios, Sirion and Copen over here until leaving the European market in the wake of the financial crisis.

They revealed their own concept called the Vision Copen which does look remarkably similar to the S-FR, and with Diahatsu being owned by Toyota, it could be expected that they have some say in the development of the roadgoing S-FR.

It’s been reported that we could expect the S-FR to hit showrooms in the next two years, so if there is any weight to the reports, we could be expecting a reveal in the very near future. The question that the S-FR has made me think of is what can it do differently to the long established MX-5 to make people make the switch? What do you think, will this be enough to tempt loyal fans away from the MX-5 or could it be too late for the crown of small sports cars to go to someone else?

Toyota S-FR
Toyota S-FR

Written by

Aaron Stokes


24 May 2024

Last Updated


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