Just unveiled this January in production form but long in the works, the Toyota-Subaru family of sport coupes is finally here. And it's surprisingly good.
The 2013 Scion FR-S joins the Subaru BRZ here in the U.S., while the third version of the car, the Toyota GT 86, won't be sold here, at least initially. Whichever model you're talking about, however, they all share the same core characteristics: rear-wheel drive, lightweight construction, simple features, and engaging driving characteristics.
They are distinguished in terms of exterior design, however, with the FR-S getting its own take on the front and rear bumpers, being perhaps a bit tamer than the BRZ. The overall silhouette is still very much that of a classic sports coupe: a low hood, a sleek passenger bubble, and a short, tall rear end. Inside, the FR-S is very simple, but well-laid out; the design is modern and semi-industrial, with carbon-textured surfaces and soft rubbery items between rectilinear shapes and round gauges and knobs.
Under the hood lies a Boxer four-cylinder engine with Toyota's D4-S port/direct injection combination system. Displacing just 2.0 liters and generating 200 horsepower, it's no slouch for a smallish normally-aspirated engine, but it's not going to light up the rear tires at every stop light, either. A Torsen-type rear differential will keep the tires spinning in tandem, however, improving acceleration out of corners. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, delivering slick, short-throw shifts. The optional six-speed automatic features steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, and acquits itself well for a basic automatic 'box, but leaves something to be desired in performance driving. Speaking of performance driving, the FR-S displays a fantastic balance, with a more neutral setup than we've found in many cars priced at twice the FR-S's starting point of $24,930. It's simply a joy to drive--a real sports car.
The cabin itself is comfortable and quiet. Good shoulder and knee room evidence Scion's maximization of front-seat space, though the rear plus-two seats leave little in the way of legroom with a taller person up front. Still, it should serve for short trips with four adults, though children will be the most likely rear-seat occupants. Behind the rear seats, there's a relatively spacious trunk, and with the seats laid down, there's an expansive, flat load floor--large enough to hold four-stock-sized wheels and tires, a tool box, and a helmet, according to Scion.
Safety testing for the 2013 Scion FR-S hasn't been conducted yet, but a standard complement of airbags, plus stability and traction control, cover the basics.
As for features, there's a simple mono-spec system at Scion: one base car is available, and upgrades can be added on an a la carte basis. Some of the available upgrades include a better head unit and stereo (available with a basic apps system later this year), wheel and tire upgrades, and of course visual tweaks. Scion says it's also planning a host of TRD performance division upgrades soon.
For a more in-depth look at the 2013 Scion FR-S, visit the full review at The Car Connection.