For some reason, we’ve always been intrigued by the Toyota MR2 SW20 platform. They’re nimble, come with a stout turbocharged two-litre platform, and have that classic ‘90s styling we love so much. Gregory Hirst shares a similar passion for the small Toyota platform, and attended regular track days and events in his MR2 G-Limited — a 3S-GE-powered example, that unfortunately was a touch slow, Greg explains, “I had been tracking my MR2 for a few years and just got frustrated getting stuck behind people through the twisty bits, only to be gassed down the straights so I started looking for better options.”
It wasn’t long until Greg found his replacement in the form of a 2GR-FE-swapped SW20, packing around 200kW at the wheels. “I found an MR2 with a V6 already completed. It packs around the same punch as a mildly modified turbo 3SGE engine, but with torque from whenever the pedal hits the floor,” Greg explained. It has to be said, the sound from the 2GR engine is something quite unique, especially when you’re used to hearing them on boost…
After coming to grips with the newfound power, Greg decided to begin modifying it. After finding out that it wasn’t quite as well sorted as he first thought, sorting out the braking was the first thing on the list to upgrade. New poly-bushes in the front-end, Endless ME22 pads, and Whiteline sway bars were installed to tighten up the nimble MR2 nose.
With a long-standing love for Formula One aerodynamics and in more recent times the extreme examples across the ditch at the Yokohama World Time Attack Challenge, Greg started to design his very own setup. “I ordered a wing, which took ages to arrive, but it gave me plenty of time to fabricate the diffuser and splitter before the start of the next Superlap season. Since installing all the aero, it's been a battle with setup,” Greg continues, “The aero itself is pretty well balanced with a small amount of understeer. The problem has been the extra weight behind the rear axle has made the car understeer mid to corner exit.”
After chasing the issues for a couple of Superlap rounds, Greg’s starting to come to grips with the aero package, with the trick being to force it to rotate more aggressively than before. Top speed has been affected mildly, however, mid-corner speed has increased dramatically. “I do need a bit more front downforce, which is in the works,” Greg told us.
With a lack of bolt-on parts, suspension, and overall setup information available for a time attack-based setup such as this, Greg has had to use good ol’ trial and error at test days to perfect the setup. With a few main rivals, we’ve been told the 2GR V6 might be getting a single turbo to keep things competitive — no doubt more tyre and aero will be needed! At present, it’s no slouch and capable of high 12-second quarters, so it’ll be an exciting ride when it's finished and one we will be following closely. Thanks for your time Greg!
Vehicle: 1992 Toyota MR2 (SW20) G Limited
Engine: 2GR-FE, 3500cc V6, Innovative poly engine mounts
Driveline: MR2 Turbo E153 five-speed, Exedy Sports Tuff six-button clutch
Braking: MR2 turbo slotted rotors, Endless ME22 pads
Suspension: MRP Fortune Auto coilovers, Whiteline sway bars, Ultra Racing strut braces, Prothane poly bushings
Wheels and Tyres: (F) 17x8-inch (R) 17x9-inch Enkei NT03, (F) 205/40R17 (R) 235/40R17 Toyo R888R
Body: Fiberglass custom front splitter, bonnet vent, boot lid, boot spoiler, rear diffuser, Origin Labo dual element wing
Interior: NZKW race seat and harnesses
Performance: 200kW at the wheels (12.9-second 1/4 mile sprint in the wet)
Lap times: Hampton Downs: 1:15.9, Taupo 1:43.9, Manfeild 1:19.3
Driver/owner: Greg Hirst
Location: New Plymouth
Build time: two years
Length of ownership: two years