An enthusiast's automotive nirvana The FR-S is one of the very few cars you can drive at ten-tenths of its capabilities on the street all year round.
The Scion FR-S and its sister car, the Subaru BRZ, are the runaway hits of the year. Typically when I get an interesting test car for the week, I take advantage of social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) to gauge opinions and reactions. The sheer amount of “Likes” and comments that the few photos of the FR-S got are a clear indication of just how much this car is appreciated by nearly everybody out there. Young or old, male or female, everybody had something positive to say about the 2013 Scion FR-S tester. Rightfully so too, because by the end of the week, I had formed a very solid opinion of the thing.
People have been complaining non-stop that the FR-S needs a bit more power. With its 2.0L flat-four cylinder putting out a modest 200-horsepower and a meager 151 lb-ft of torque, its numbers aren’t going to impress. Though I’d appreciate an extra 100 horsepower (come on, who wouldn’t?) I’m completely satisfied. The car may not be the quickest thing in a straight line, but it’s one of the very few cars you can drive at ten-tenths of its capabilities on the street all year round. It’ll definitely make every drive to work a lot more fun than a Camry LE would for the same price. At a combined 8.2L/100km with aggressive driving, the mileage is pretty great too.
I really, really like the way the FR-S behaves. Even though it’s only adequate in the power department, it has a great sound to go with it. Other than a straight-six motor, not much else sounds better than a flat-four. The car really opens up in the corners though; there aren’t many cars out there that make you feel as though you actually are at one with the car. The driving position is so perfect, the handling is so precise, and to be honest, words can’t describe how responsive the car is to the slightest turn of the wheel or tap to the pedal. The seats are worth mentioning too; they’re absolutely phenomenal.
The one thing that everybody kept asking me while I had the FR-S was how I felt about it compared to its twin, the Subaru BRZ. The FR-S feels significantly better for a few reasons; the back end feels a bit twitchier when all of the “nanny” systems are turned off. Also, the BRZ comes with this ridiculous aftermarket-looking stereo that would look more at home in my friend’s ’95 Civic then in a model year 2013 sports car.
If I were to buy an FR-S though, I would do something I’ve long since vowed never to do. Throughout high school and university, I used to make fun of the guys (*cough*, ricers) who rebadged their Integras with Honda logos, the Mazda3 guys with “Axela” badges, and the worst offenders; the Infiniti G35 owners with “Nissan Skyline 350GT” logos. The FR-S is sold as the Toyota GT86 overseas, and I’d rebadge it just because of the youthful stigma around the Scion brand. I guess this makes me a bit of an automotive elitist.
Typically when I drive a car lacking some creature comforts, I complain. In the case of the Scion FR-S though, I didn’t mind one bit. There’s a slight “old man” side to me that loves the plethora of gizmos in the luxury cars, but when driving the FR-S, I literally didn’t give a damn that I didn’t have a sunroof, heated leather seats, or a navigation system. Honestly, all those things would completely defeat the purpose of this spectacular car. I could even live without the VSC and traction control, but I won’t argue that point because if I owned one of these, I’d drive it right through the winter with a beefy set of snow tires.
I didn’t really find any flaws with the FR-S. I’m essentially its target market though; a diehard enthusiast in his mid-20s who has been waiting for years for Toyota to produce this holy grail of sports cars. Rear-wheel-drive, a 6-speed manual with beautifully precise shifting, and the sound of a boxer engine under the hood… how can you go wrong? The only way I actually went wrong was trying to fit a person in the back. Contrary to virtually any other two-door on the market, the person in the front suffers when there are rear seat passengers; my six-foot colleague’s knees were right up into the dash. Ah well, if you buy a Scion FR-S for its interior space, you don’t deserve one anyway.
There are plenty of choices under the $30,000 price point that appeal to the enthusiast crowd. Some of my personal favourites include the Mazda MX-5, the Honda Civic Si, and the Mini Cooper S. The MX-5 appeals to me because I’m a convertible guy at heart, and the Mini is pretty much unbeatable when it comes to front-wheel-drive handling. However, after spending a very, very exciting week with the FR-S, I don’t think I would think twice about paying the ~$25,000 sticker price for one. Plus, unlike the MX-5, I actually fit comfortably in the FR-S. So far, I’d have to say that the Scion FR-S is my personal pick of the year under $30,000. It truly is legend in the making.
2013 Scion FR-S Gallery