The Scion FR-S: A Rear-Wheel Drive Gem You Might Have Missed

The Scion FR-S: A Rear-Wheel Drive Gem You Might Have Missed

The Toyota Scion FR-S, produced from 2013 to 2016, was a unique offering in the American sports car market. Backed by Toyota's engineering prowess and offered under the youth-oriented Scion brand, the FR-S aimed to deliver an engaging driving experience at an attainable price point. While Scion itself is discontinued, the FR-S left a lasting impression and holds a special place for enthusiasts today.

Designed for Driving Enthusiasts

The FR-S prioritized driver engagement from the ground up. A rear-wheel-drive layout, a rarity in its segment at the time, offered sharp handling and a playful character. The 2.0-liter, naturally-aspirated boxer engine, co-developed with Subaru, might not have boasted huge horsepower numbers, but it revved willingly and delivered a smooth power delivery. The optional six-speed manual transmission was a joy to operate, with a short throw and a precise feel.

The FR-S wasn't about brute force; it was about finesse. The relatively lightweight chassis and communicative steering allowed drivers to push the car to its limits with confidence. The car begged to be thrown around corners, rewarding skilled drivers with a satisfyingly balanced and predictable experience.

More Than Just Performance

While performance was the FR-S's calling card, it wasn't a bare-bones track car. The interior, though not luxurious, featured comfortable seats and a driver-focused layout. The infotainment system, though basic by today's standards, offered essential features like Bluetooth connectivity and a decent sound system.

The FR-S also offered surprising practicality for a sports car. The rear seats, while small, could fold down to provide decent cargo space for weekend getaways or gear for track days.

A Collaborative Effort: Scion and Subaru

The FR-S wasn't a solo project for Toyota. It was co-developed with Subaru and resulted in two very similar cars: the FR-S and the Subaru BRZ. While mechanically identical, they differed slightly in aesthetics. The Scion offered a more aggressive front fascia, while the Subaru had a smoother look.

This collaboration allowed both manufacturers to leverage economies of scale, making the car more affordable for consumers. It also created a bit of friendly competition, with both brands vying for enthusiast dollars.

A Short-Lived Run

Scion, unfortunately, discontinued its operations in the US in 2016. This meant the FR-S only had a short three-year run. However, its impact on the sports car market was undeniable. It offered a compelling alternative to heavier, more powerful, and often more expensive options.

The FR-S found a home among enthusiasts who valued driving dynamics over horsepower bragging rights. It proved that an engaging and fun sports car experience could be achieved without breaking the bank.

The Legacy of the FR-S

The Scion FR-S's legacy lives on in the form of the Toyota 86, which essentially replaced it in the Toyota lineup in 2017. The 86 built upon the FR-S's foundation, offering some minor upgrades and revisions. It retained the core elements that made the FR-S so beloved: the rear-wheel-drive platform, the naturally-aspirated engine, and the focus on driver engagement.

The FR-S also holds a special place in the used car market. Today, you can find well-maintained examples at reasonable prices. This makes it an attractive option for driving enthusiasts looking for a fun and affordable weekend car or a project car to modify and personalize.

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