– Jeeps and Cars are My Life
2013 Scion FR-S 6MT And What You Need To Know

The scion of Toyota’s founding family, Akio Toyoda, went on record a number of times saying that he wants to make it more fun to drive his namesake company’s cars. Mr. Toyoda had quite a bit of input into the development of the Scion FR-S/Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ, and the cars have generally been well-received by the press, with criticism focused mostly on their stock tires and lack of power from the 200 horsepower naturally aspirated boxer four cylinder, which is the only engine choice. We recently spent a week getting re-acquainted with the Scion FR-S; hit the jump to discover how Scion’s sportiest offering fared inside the Autosavant garage.


In terms of looks, the FR-S creates a great first impression. It’s low to the floor, has a long dash-to-axle ratio that communicates its rear wheel drive layout, and it’s aattractive and easy, minimalist design. There are a few small design flourishes (the ’86′ on the fenders, flanked by boxer pistons is a cool touch) although the car really has a no-nonsense shape. Inspite of the swoopy roofline, it’s a notchback, not really a hatchback, using a discrete trunk. Why? Because hatchbacks eliminate from body rigidity and add weight, both of which would be the enemy of sporty cars.

Fall into the FR-S’s driver’s seat (it’s challenging out and into of the car gracefully, if only because the door openings aren’t huge, as well as the seats are really low to the floor) and you’re greeted by cloth seats with huge bolsters. The seats perform a nice job of holding you into position, though I actually would not want to be any bigger or heavier than I am (6’4? 190 pounds) while spending an extended period in the FR-S’s seats. A couple of weeks ago, I took a Subaru BRZ on a racetrack, and learned that having enough headroom without a helmet is not really the same as having enough headroom with a helmet – my head was constantly up against the ceiling when wearing a helmet irrespective of how I tried to regulate the seat.

They’re useless for passengers unless 1) both front seat occupants are extremely short and the rear seat occupants are also extremely short, or 2) nobody is sitting in the front passenger seat, although scion_FRS_010There are rear seats in the FR-S. When I drive the car, the back of the driver’s seat is against the front of the rear seat. No adult in my family could have ridden in the seat in front of him, though i did manage to fit my son in his booster seat from the back seat of the FR-S for a brief trip across town.

Anyway, you start the FR-S using a physical key on the steering column (how quaint! If you’re planning to vibrate to death, ) and as the engine goes to life, you sense initially as. Noise, vibration, harshness mitigation was not likely on the Toyobaru twins’ development agenda. Holding the controls. Alternatively, worse – the gearshift – and you can really feel every revolution of the 2. liter boxer four. Additionally you quickly find that the exhaust is fairly loud and the ride is fairly harsh, as you slip the FR-S into release and gear the clutch. After my first 100 miles behind the wheel in the FR-S, I had been sure that my wife would hate me for asking her to use it to get to an out of town wedding about two hours from your home.

Sometimes, cars don’t get the best impression initially, but you set out to appreciate them for what they may be, and you may not add the car to your own shopping list, but you at least have to respect the auto for what it is an just what it can do. Man, will it be ever a hoot to operate a vehicle, though the FR-S is not an especially comfortable car, and it’s not super fast.

In stock form, with Prius parts-bin tires (as our tester was equipped), the FR-S is not amazing on the racetrack. There’s not enough power and not enough grip. But do you know what? Most FR-S buyers will never take their car anywhere near a track. Individuals who do track their cars will still drive on public roads – home of traffic, stop signs, speed limits, and idiot drivers – 99 percent of the time. I don’t wear a helmet when I drive to work, despite the fact that there’s insufficient room for me to wear a drive and helmet the FR-S.

With this recalibrated perspective, the vehicle is fun. It’s not fun at 9/10ths (not really that I even took the auto there on public roads) but it is fun at 7/10ths, for instance on the long, deserted freeway on-ramp. Just like you can learn winter driving and car control in an empty snow-covered parking area, you can practice throttle-initiated oversteer on a 270 degree cloverleaf when merging onto a highway – when all by yourself, just go a bit faster than you would when your spouse or children were in the car, and check out a little car control exercise. If you overdo it, the car’s stability control will bring things back in line, or you can always just stab the brakes to put more cornering forces on the front tires, Don’t worry -. You even have a sport mode on the stability control to permit some slippage. Definitely a fantastic touch.

You really also do not need greater than 200 horsepower in day to day life in such a light, well-balanced car. The FR-S is a no-nonsense car. You can’t even get factory navigation within it (though it can be found in the Subaru BRZ version) and there is quite little in a vehicle that will not serve to furtherperformance and economy, or occupant safety. The exhaust is about the louder side (some might say that it drones when you are traveling at highway speeds), but that actually helped my self control when driving out and about. You think you’re driving faster than you really are, and it’s fun to row through the gears, then heel-and-toe downshift when you approach corners. You’ll probably lose a race (unless it’s a spec race) but darnit, you’ll a minimum of enjoy your loss.

The six speed manual within the test car was incredibly easy to use. Very direct-feeling, and dare I say, Honda-like, though shift action is somewhat firm. The clutch’s takeup point was exactly where I expected it to be. It will be a great car in which to teach someone how you can drive stick.

Looking at the FR-S’s window sticker, I was kind of overwhelmed from the EPA fuel economy numbers – 22 city/30 highway/25 combined. But, despite my not babying the car, and assisted by four straight hours of highway driving, I did the impossible – I actually beat the EPA highway number, if just barely. The FR-S’ trip computer showed 770 miles and 30.1 miles per gallon when I returned the car. Numbers in a lab are one thing, but I notice you from experience that I rarely even obtain the EPA combined fuel economy, much less the highway number, after a week with a press car. So, real-world economy was excellent.

Depending on your perspective, there are new cars for $25,066 (the Scion’s price as-tested, without having options but a $69 rear bumper applique and $67 wheel locks) which can be more fun, but it’s difficult to imagine a coupe that’s so well-balanced, so economical, so fun to operate, and – sadly – so impractical as a family car as being the FR-S. My late-30s self is probably too “mature” for any car this way as a daily driver, though i was sad to see it go. On the Scion’s credit, though, my lovely wife did not register a single complaint during our four hours together in the car (spanning two days) except that it did not have automatic dual-zone climate control (actually it didn’t have automatic climate control, nor did it have dual-zones). In the event that was the greatest complaint from your Haak family’s harshest auto critic, then Toyota’s scion must have done something right when pushing for this Scion’s development.

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