2013 Scion FR-S Road Test Review

Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Every now and then a new car comes along which, the moment you see it, you know is destined to achieve icon status. A cult following of fanboys is coalescing. Web savvy individuals are applying for URLs incorporating the model's name in clever ways. A nascent owner's club is busy working up bylaws; while in graphics studios everywhere, posters are being designed to reside on prepubescent's walls.

World, meet the very next model to be so lionized-the 2013 Scion FR-S. (Which BTW is called the Toyota 86 everywhere on Earth other than North America). Pretty to look at, fun to drive, and amazingly affordable, it's blatantly obvious this new Scion will be regarded as a landmark car in years to come.

The FR-S (FR-S = Front-engine Rear drive - Sport) is no fluke; it's a genuine sports car in the purest sense of the phrase. Small displacement (2.0 litres), high-output (200 horsepower), light weight (1,251 kilos manual/1,273 automatic), and outstanding agility are its hallmarks. Genuine proof the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts; the 2013 Scion FR-S drives like a car costing considerably more than its $25,990 base price.

Looking every bit like something Pininfarina would have drawn-had Enzo Ferrari ever asked for a front engined car this small-the Scion's long, low and purposeful shape belies a comfortable cockpit with more than adequate room for two people. Nestled comfortably within the Scion's well-bolstered sport seats, the driver is seated face to face with a perfectly sized, beautifully executed steering wheel. Visible through the top half of the wheel is a handsome, readily legible centre-mounted analogue tachometer housing a digital speedometer. To the right of the tach are gauges for fuel level and coolant temperature. To the left is an analogue speedometer, which in our opinion is wasted space. One's eye is more readily drawn to the red numerals of the digital speedo for a more instantaneous notification of velocity. That space would have been better employed for oil temperature, oil pressure, voltage, and transmission temperature gauges. However, that is the only fault we have with the interior.

OK, wait, that's not true. The radio sucks aardvark anus-big time. Looking more like an aftermarket afterthought than the genuinely integrated piece a car with this much capability deserves, the head unit relies upon tiny indecipherable buttons, which are everything except intuitive in operation.

Other than that though, the interior is exceptionally well executed. Gently padded soft touch material with red stitching is placed everywhere the hard parts of your body would come into contact with the car, including on the lower console for your knees. The seats, upholstered in a grippy fabric, hold you in place during acrobatic maneuvers with ease and comfort. They are also comfortable over long distances. The overall driving position is outstanding and the outward view is practically unimpeded.

The 2.0-litre horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine winds well, if not exactly freely through its rev-range and its sound is delicious as it approaches redline. Generating more than enough punch to light the rear tires from a standing start, and more than enough power to be interesting, its power band feels a bit soft in the midrange and the visceral response-that feeling of strong determined thrust- is, quite honestly, a bit lacking.
The engine propels the Scion FR-S to 100 km/h from rest in a bit over six seconds, so it's quick, but not blindingly fast. Challenge a Nissan 370Z in a straight line and…well…that's just a bad idea-you'll get scalded. However, on a twisty road, where you can use the exceptional handling dynamics of the FR-S to your advantage, you'll give that 370Z driver considerable cause to second-guess their purchase decision.

The six-speed manual transmission in our test car delivered positive gear changes with short and quick throws. Clutch take-up was nice-pulling away from rest smoothly, despite the rather low torque figure of 151 ft-lbs, was readily accomplished-with a bit of practice. The brakes, while lacking immediacy of bite, retarded the car's progress with determination and repeatability. On our favourite canyon runs we applied them frequently and liberally to no adverse affect.

Turn-in is nice and progressive, you can dial in as much oversteer as you'd like and readily drift the FR-S, or you can slice graceful arcs and neatly clip apexes if your style leans farther in that direction. With a front to rear weight ratio of 53/47, the Scion is a well-balanced and brilliant driving partner, one willing to do anything you ask of it with considerable competence.

So, there you have it, the 2013 Scion FR-S is the genuine article. A real sports car that is good-looking, affordable, fun to drive, and in all probability exceptionally reliable; after all, it is a Toyota.

It's time to make room on the wall for a new poster kids.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sports Coupe, Scion, 2013, FR-S, $20,000 - $29,999,

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page