Scion delivers with sporty FR-S
2013 Scion FR-S Review:
Toyota has finally produced a new sports coupe through its entry-level brand Scion.
I’ve missed the Toyota Celica for years, so with the 2013 Scion FR-S, Toyota again has a low-cost sports coupe that looks great and will provide much entertainment for those of us who prefer cars to look sporty and handle likewise.
Toyota and Subaru worked together on this sports coupe, with really only the sheet metal reflecting their differing visions of what a cool coupe should look like.Both the Scion and Subaru version, the BRZ, run on 101.2-inch wheelbases, are rear-wheel drive, and have four-wheel independent suspension and a Subaru-designed 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder that cranks out 200 horsepower. Toyota added its port/direct-injection technology to add power and improve gas mileage.
The car is a spiffy sportster with enough power to feel a tad racy. Under normal acceleration FR-S feels a little lackluster, but downshift with the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, or put it in sport mode by clicking a button on the console, and more low-end torque is available. You’ll feel quick, but not fast.
The car’s six-speed automatic transmission works well and aids gas mileage, if you’re not tromping the metal-clad gas pedal too hard. I got an impressive 31.3 mpg, just shy of what the trip computer indicated. With about 60% being city driving I was happy in that the EPA estimates this car at 25 mpg city and 34 mpg highway. Both numbers are higher than the 22 city and 30 highway that the EPA estimates for the FR-S’ six-speed manual-equipped model.
The base Scion FR-S with the manual goes for $24,200, while this one started at $25,300 and added no options, just $730 delivery to hit $26,030. If you want a racier car you’d likely have to find one with a turbo, and the price will climb into the mid-$30,000 range.
FR-S is a fairly light 2,806 pounds, and the car’s steering reflects that. Steering effort is low, and the car feels nimble. It turns into corners well and offers a responsive feel. I felt no body roll in tight cornering. This was fun to drive – not quite in the Miata range, but entertaining.
Ride, however, is rough. Expansion joints in city streets are each felt with a tap to the derrière. The rear end with its dual wishbone suspension seemed especially tightly sprung. But this is a car aimed at youthful drivers who normally do not complain of stiff rides.Braking comes from four-wheel discs, ABS and traction and stability control. For autocross racers, that stability system can be clicked off so you can swing the car’s tail about when racing on a weekend.
My test car was a good-looking sparkling deep blue, with a black cloth interior featuring a sporty red stitching on the seats and red stitching on the leather-covered steering wheel. Racier folks will enjoy the fake carbon-fiber trim on the dash and matte silver trim on doors and console. The dash is black with a textured top to resemble leather.
A real plus, if you favor driving over playing with electronic gadgets, is the car’s simple dash layout. Scion knows its younger drivers want a good stereo and include a Pioneer 300-watt unit with eight speakers and all the usual iPod connections and disc player. You can easily see and use the controls while you drive.
Three big interlocking round gauges are right above the tilt/telescope steering wheel and easy to see. While the radio buttons and knobs are small, they’re simple to figure out and include six channel selection buttons, no touch screen.Don’t look for oodles of interior room. Not much room in the trunk either, just 7.0 cubic feet, but that would hold two suitcases if they aren’t too bulky.
I didn’t care for the tinny sound when I shut the trunk – and a little sound deadening might help quiet the interior, which is pretty noisy on the highway. Road noise creeps in from the wheels and the windows. And because this is entry-level sporty you get basic features, such as a push-button start and remote key fob, power mirrors, power locks and windows, and a one-piece fold-down rear seat to extend the trunk space. There’s no navigation, but that’s standard on Subaru’s BRZ.