I’d be willing to bet that every guy, at least once in his lifetime, lusts over a true sports car; low, quick, flashy, impractical and unapologetic. However, a large percentage of those admirers come to their senses before taking the plunge and only those truly stubborn take that lust far enough to fall in love with an automobile that can show them the true pleasures of driving. There was a time when true sports cars were much more common place. MGs, Triumphs, Datsun 240Zs and varieties of other proper sports cars were really the only choice for someone wanting a truly engaging driving experience. What happened though is that manufacturers figured out how to build a lot of the same excitement and performance into more practical formats, giving birth to the hot-hatch craze and later the huge growth of the sports sedan segment. This meant that someone wanting to go fast and have fun didn’t have to put up with the impracticality of a true sports car, and the segment quickly shrunk.
Oddly enough though the few true sports cars that have been built over the last twenty years have quickly developed strong cult followings, and cars like the Mazda MX-5, Honda S2000 and even the milder Nissan 240sx and its variants are quickly snapped up on the used market by those enthusiasts who still lust for the low-slung sexiness of a sports car and the uncompromising rear-wheel drive experience. Fortunately for us, the folks at Scion and Subaru caught onto this demand and set out to build a car that would be a true sports car before all else. As one of those enthusiasts who is an absolute sucker for the raw sports car driving experience, I must admit I was pretty excited when Scion lent me their 2014 FR-S Monogram edition, in nothing other than “look at me Red”, to play with for a week.
The body of my bright red tester is sculpted into that of the quintessential sports car; a long hood with curvy fenders rising up along the side (very reminiscent of the C3 Corvette), swooped back windshield and a roofline that flows right back to a stumpy rear end. It’s a shape that is instantly recognizable and that Scion has put their own flare on which I think makes the car an absolute eye catcher. Everything from the carved out vents and detailed little FR-S badging to the gorgeous 17 inch charcoal rims on my tester did nothing but grab looks and compliments from passersby.
Looking the part is one thing, but the FR-S does back up its looks with those uncompromised driving dynamics that I was talking about earlier. The steering is extremely tight, precise and the FR-S hugs the road in a very confidence inspiring way. Corners in the FR-S are simply intoxicating and you’ll be wishing that every road was nothing but glorious corners. The 2.0L boxer engine, while technically only cranking out 200 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque, actually hauls pretty well and delivers a surprising amount of low end torque, enough to readily rotate the back end should you want to. I disagree with the lot of journalists who feel the FR-S is underpowered as I quite enjoy using the engine’s full range when the opportunity presents itself, something I would never be able to do in many of the monstrously powerful cars we often drive. In a car like the FR-S where you can’t just romp on the right pedal to go fast, when you have to do a little work to get there; you can experience the car in a very different way. Maintaining momentum, managing your shifts and keeping your rpm in-line with the engines power band force you to really feel the car, and for me that’s where the true essence of a sports car lies.
The FR-S is a great sports car, and because of its uncompromised sportiness, concessions have to be made. The clutch is heavy and grabby, the gearbox is a little notchy, the ride is stiff and the levels of road noise while cruising on the highway are definitely an annoyance. Those factors combine to make my typical rush hour commute in heavy traffic rather unpleasant in the FR-S. That’s that thing with sports car like this, if you want the raw driving experience, you’ll have to be prepared to give up a little in other areas. Happily, I did manage to keep my fuel consumption down and over my week of commuting I averaged an impressive 7.3L/100km, that’s excellent for a car that can deliver this much fun!
The interior in the FR-S Monogram edition is really well executed in my opinion; the 2+2 rear seats might not be great for humans, but they provide very handy storage for bags and briefcases, as does the reasonably sized trunk. The dashboard layout feels very much like a modern spin on a classic as I find it very reminiscent of the old Datsun 240Z. Overall, its simple, everything is where you’d expect it, but there are very few frills. The Monogram package adds a few toys which do help make the FR-S a little more livable; heated seats, navigation, dual-zone climate control and HID headlamps with a very cool little adjustment knob on the dash so you can manually adjust the pitch of your headlight beams. I also absolutely love the Monogram edition seats; they do a great job keeping you in place, but are also extremely comfortable and gorgeous to look at. The red stitching is carried from the seats throughout the interior and goes a long way to give an otherwise Spartan interior some extra detail and class – the seats and stitching alone would be worth the $2200 premium for the Monogram package in my opinion.
At $31,500 my tester represents an excellent value for a buyer looking for that pure sports car experience. An FR-S is a perfect way to begin a lifelong love affair with sports cars, and I’d be willing to bet that much like those before it, the FR-S will quickly become a cult favorite and will retain value very well for years to come. It’s not a car that I’d want to spend my arduous commute in everyday, but that’s not what these cars are about; last year I purchased a clapped out old Triumph Spitfire and have invested countless hours and a considerable amount of money into rebuilding it, not because I want to drive it to work, but because it offers that raw sports car experience that I’ve fallen in love with. An FR-S gets you that feeling right out of the box, without having to walk around with grease under your finger nails all the time.
2014 Scion FR-S Monogram Edition Gallery