Vehicle: 2013 Scion FR-S
Price: $26,505 as tested
+ Driving dynamics
+ Grabby front seats
+ Handsome exterior styling
- Cheap interior details
- Sparse storage space
- Tricky entry and exit
If ever there was a car deserving of the ‘as advertised’ tag, the Scion FR-S is it.
One of the most anticipated new releases of 2012, the FR-S – Toyota’s variant of the joint venture with Subaru that also produced the BRZ is badged as a Scion in North America – has been positioned as a true, no-compromise sports car.
Based on my experience with it, I can say the FR-S does indeed deliver on that lofty promise. The 53/47 front-to-rear weight distribution combined with its rear-wheel drive layout, very low centre of gravity and curb weight of just 1,251 kilograms (2,758 lbs.) provide for sharp handling that's reminiscent of a go-kart. The impression is further driven home when standing next to it. I am not an exceedingly tall person (about 5’11”), but I felt like Shaquille O’Neal as I prepared to stuff myself into a car with a roofline that rises only to 1,285 mm (50.6 inches) and sits just 125 mm (4.9 inches) off the ground. There are Ferraris that don’t ride this low.
But, once inside the snug confines of the FR-S, it is worth the effort. Twisting the key awakens the sprightly two-litre DOHC four-cylinder Boxer engine, which mates to a six-speed manual transmission. Toyota wisely chose to let the growl of the Boxer engine fill the cabin to enhance the performance feel. It's a pleasing sound to hear as I attempt to wring all 200 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque out of the Boxer engine.
While the FR-S definitely checks the performance boxes – power, steering, braking, handling – it suffers from careless cost-cutting inside the cabin. The driving position is excellent and seats are comfortable, but Toyota’s decision to equip the FR-S with a centre stack that looks like it came from a ’95 Tercel is questionable as is electing to fore-go simple creature comforts like automatic headlights and a logical cup holder layout.
I can hear a Toyota product planner responding to my critiques with, 'buyers won’t care,' which may be true, but if the FR-S is going to be your daily driver, eventually you will care. Still, with a MSRP of just $25,990, the FR-S represents good value and Toyota is likely to sell as many of them as it can build, tacky digital clock notwithstanding.