Toyota, Suzuki and Daihatsu team up for rumoured 1-litre sports car

by Nik Berg and Antony Ingram
27 July 2022 2 min read
Toyota, Suzuki and Daihatsu team up for rumoured 1-litre sports car
The third generation Toyota MR2 went off sale in 2007. Could this new car – if it happens – revive the name? Photo: Dean Smith

You could barely move at Japanese motor shows in the 1990s without tripping over some tiny but perfectly-formed sports car concept, as manufacturers scrambled to out-do one another and cash in on the roadster boom created by Mazda’s MX-5.

Sadly those days have long gone, but news from Japanese car magazine Best Car, via Forbes, brings us some hope. According to the author, a long-established journalist who covers the Japanese car industry for European and US outlets, the sportster will be a collaboration with Suzuki and Daihatsu, with Toyota providing its GA-B platform which underpins the GR Yaris and GR Corolla, while Suzuki will come to the party with a three-cylinder, one-litre turbo engine.

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That motor is currently used in the JDM Swift Turbo, where it drives the front wheels, but in the new sports car it will be fitted amidships and send power to the rear instead. A six-speed torque converter gearbox is the expected transmission.

If this sounds unfeasible, remember that it’s pretty standard car industry practice to pick up the engine and subframe from a front-driver and drop it in the back to create a sports car – it’s basically what Toyota did for its MR2s of years gone, and a strategy MG used for its mid-engined MGF in the ’90s, too.

Toyota Copen GR Sport
Toyota currently sells a rebranded version of the Daihatsu Copen under its GR Sport label. Photo: Toyota

It’s unclear what Daihatsu will be contributing, aside from cash, as the small-vehicle specialist within the Toyota empire, and given it still produces the Copen kei-class sports car, its expertise in compact cars should be invaluable.

If Best Car’s steer proves accurate – a few of the popular Japanese car magazines having a reputation for over-enthusiasm – the car should reach showrooms some time in 2025, with a sterling-equivalent price somewhere north of £20,000.

Toyota has a successful track record of sports car partnerships, sharing costs with rivals to give petrolheads what they want. First there was the GT86 co-developed with Subaru as its BRZ (recently replaced by the GR86), and then came the BMW Z4-derived Supra.

Expect the new mid-engined machine to be closer to the Subaru venture, with only subtle differences in visuals and suspension tune separating the different brands’ cars… if it arrives.

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  • J.wentworth says:

    Shame Daihatsu doesn’t sell the MK2 copone in the UK it’s a gorgeous little sports car and the mk1 sold reasonably well.

  • J.wentworth says:

    My partner had the MK1 copone and it was a fabulous little thing even if it did remind me of a shoe, Daihatsu have missed a trick not putting it on sale in the UK as we would definitely buy 1 it looks a vast improvement on the first model can’t be anything to do with emissions it’s the same Engine as the Suzuki Kei Engine used in the Caterham .

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