For enthusiasts on a budget, the Scion FR-S is a dream come true, offering crisp, well-balanced rear-wheel-drive dynamics, precise steering and an affordable pricetag. It's also well-equipped and easy on gas. The typical sports car drawbacks apply, including a firm ride and limited space, but they're a small price to pay for the FR-S' seriously fun driving experience.
A year into the FR-S' run, Scion has fitted a new 6.1-inch LCD touchscreen for the sound system, which lets users stream tunes using Bluetooth or plug their music device into AUX and USB inputs.
Also new is the optional BeSpoke premium sound system, which includes navigation and numerous smartphone-based apps.
To understand the FR-S, one must look at its sources of inspiration: the legendary Toyota 2000GT and the newer and much more affordable Corolla GT-S. The FR-S' exterior is highlighted by a low-slung roofline and wide stance. Scion says the goal of the FR-S was to achieve "Pure Balance," which is exemplified by the car's 53:47 front-to-rear weight ratio and low center of gravity.
Speaking of its low center of gravity, part of that is due to the layout of its unique flat-four boxer engine, which is sourced from Subaru. Fellow Japanese automaker Subaru was heavily involved in the design and development of the Scion FR-S, even marketing its own version of the car under the moniker of Subaru BRZ.
This shared 2.0-liter engine utilizes both direct and port injection, and is able to squeeze out 200 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque.
That power is sent to the FR-S' rear wheels via a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. The latter features steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and rev-matching. A limited-slip differential is included with both transmissions.
Manual-equipped FR-S models are rated at 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, while opting for the six-speed auto ups mileage to 25/34 mpg. The stick FR-S is said to tip the scales at 2,758lbs, with the auto weighing 2,806lbs.
Scion went to great lengths to keep the FR-S as light as possible, which explains why the automaker opted for a traditional trunk rather than a heavier hatchback. The FR-S also comes equipped with an aluminum hood and a sunroof isn't offered. The FR-S rolls on lightweight 17-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin Primacy HP tires used on Toyota's hybrids in Japan for a balanced handling feel.
Standard features on the FR-S include a 6.1-inch LCD touchscreen, 300-watt AM/FM/CD Pioneer sound system with eight speakers, an auxiliary input jack, USB port, Bluetooth connectivity and HD radio.
The optional BeSpoke Premium Audio System adds navigation and the ability to connect to a plethora of smartphone-based apps, including Aha radio, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Tripadvisor and more.
The car comes with an array of electronic driver aids, including traction control, a stability control system, ABS, and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) with Brake Assist.
There are also passive safety features such as front and side airbags for the driver and passenger, along with side curtain airbags for all four passengers. There is also a tire-pressure monitoring system and a start/stop system for saving gas.
The Scion FR-S will most likely find its largest competitor (ironically enough) to be the jointly developed Subaru BRZ, which is a mechanical and design twin. Other competitors will include the Hyundai Genesis Coupe and Mazda MX-5. Some may also cross-shop the V6-powered Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro.