Skipping the pre-drive research I crawled into a hot orange two door 2013 Scion FR-s needing to burn off some of the week’s frustration. What a perfect car for a not so perfect week – a road trip of rolling therapy.
The vehicle’s exterior design says Toyota everywhere and its sporty look seems to pull elements from all of Toyota’s product lines – well, except the Scion XB – thank goodness!
Sliding into the snug racing style buckets was slightly challenging, but what you expect out of a low slung sports coupe. After a couple of corners, a true appreciation surfaced for both their comfort and fit. The stylish interior included a super large tach and a speedometer that capped out at 160mph. “This could be promising,” was my first thought. Start her up and the analog style needles glow red and make a quick sweep – just to get your blood flowing.
While the 2.0 Liter Subaru Boxer engine lacks the throaty cam sound that I so enjoy in American muscle cars, Scion did a great job of creating a sports car feel before you ever hit the gas. A soft boot with stitched detail surrounded the gear selector and added to the old world sports feel of the FR-s. A matching boot surrounded the base of the “drifting brake,” yes…I know it’s actually the emergency brake. Take a drive in this hot little front engine, rear wheel drive sports buggy and you will quickly call it the drifting brake.
Pulling out it is quickly evident that the power band is fairly high and that the naturally aspirated flat 4 cylinder is more than ready to get there. The shift pattern was aggressive. So, while normally a standard transmission would be a nice addition to a small engine sports car, the automatic 6 speed had great shift points and there was no reason to even utilize the paddle shifters.
The Scion FR-s lacks some of the entertainment amenities that we have become used to in many new vehicles and synchronizing your phone was almost impossible. However, it does tout The 2013 Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It includes stability and traction control – and you will need it! This vehicle could challenge even a skilled driver when the stability control is off. While Scion is known for marketing to young drivers it will not handle like the front wheel drive vehicles they are used to. Leave the stability control on,… or take some driving lessons.
This unique combination of Subaru and Toyota ingenuity hit Mr. Akio Toyoda’s vision of a “light and agile sports car.” Don’t be surprised if you see me tooling through the Texas Hill Country in the well designed Scion FR-s.
Wishing you miles and miles of happy driving,
Lynn Beckwith, That Car Lady
The 2013 Scion FR-S is a joint project with Subaru and brings the Scion line a true sports car. Quick and nimble the FR-S lets a driver experience what it is like to be in control of a car, and still have dependable everyday transportation. Unlike many of the past joint ventures of auto makers Scion does not try to hide their association with Subaru. the engine carries the Subaru name badge.
The FR-S is powered by the 2 liter Subaru “boxer” engine that cranks out a modest 200 horsepower. While it is not the rip snorting 500 horses of some to the production hot rods like Mustang and Camaro, it is combined with a chassis and suspension that will allow the driver to make use of the power in a fun way, not just a straight line tire screamer.
The engine is hooked up to either a six speed manual or a six speed automatic the paddle shifters. For the pure thrill of driving the manual is the way to go, but the automatic does a great job of keeping the engine in a power band and shifting at the right time.
The rear wheel drive and low center of gravity allowed by the boxer style flat engine combined with a superb suspension make the FR-S as agile and any sports car available today. The car responds well to aggressive driving
The FR-S offers little in the way of amenities that we have grown used to. There is no back up camera, no power seats, no passive cruise control and only a modest stereo with a poor sync system. The strength lies in the things it does well. The seats are racing style with great support in the g-forces of turns and more comfort than I expected on longer trips. The sloping hood gives great road visibility, the steering is positive and lets the driver feel the road and sense the connection, or loss thereof, to the asphalt. Braking is excellent and while the acceleration lacks the raw power of the muscle cars it has plenty of throttle response to make high speed maneuvers a blast.
The back seat is almost an afterthought on the FR-S and is of little practical use for passengers. With almost no leg or head room even small kids will be uncomfortable riding in the rear. Trunk storage space is nothing to brag about either, but if you filp down the rear seats to open up the storage space you can get a couple of sets o golf clubs in there.
The Scion marketing philosophy for the FR-S is to allow buyers to personalize them at the dealership with fog lamps, engine performance options, suspension upgrades and BeSpoke audio that include smart phone integration.
Fuel economy is good offering 22 city and 30 highway for the manual and 25 city, 28 highway for the automatic. Our test drive was well within these expectations.
Safety should be a high concern on a car that is designed to be driven as this one. The FR-S has standard dash, front seat and full length side curtain air bags to protect the driver. It also has anti-lock braking and traction/stability control. The stability control will help keep a less experienced driver out of serious trouble and can be turned off for a true man and machine adventure. With the traction control off the rear end will slide and if you back off the throttle and unload in a performance turn the car will want to come around on you. Despite being Scions hottest performer State Farm rates the FR-S as a better risk than the much calmer tC.
Priced in the mid-twenties the FR-S is a great value for the sports car enthusiast.
John Miller, The Car Counselor