What should be the second coming of automotive enthusiast Jesus has quickly turned into a road-going polarizer. I’m referring, of course, to the 2013 Scion FR-S. This is a light-weight, rear-wheel-drive, front-engine coupe that sells for around $25,000. Those stats sound great on paper, and pretty much everyone who considers themselves an enthusiast is or was excited for this car to arrive.
Now that it’s here? Well, the praise for the FR-S (and it’s nearly identical twin sibling, the Subaru BR-Z) has been fairly consistent. However, there have been a few dissenting voices citing the cars power figure (200 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 151 pound-feet of torque from 6,400 to 6,600 rpm), interior quality, and choice in tire. That last bit is interesting because a lot of folks keep referring to the rubber as “Prius tires”, which is true but you have to dig just one step deeper to realize we’re talking about the Performance Package-equipped JDM Prius. There is actually a decent amount of grip to be had here, but the car can run faster lap times with upgraded tires (as we all keep hearing the reports filter in from the buff books).
So is the 2013 Scion FR-S a step in the right direction for Toyota, or has everyone had their ticket punched by the conductors of the hype train? Click past the break to find out.
The 2013 Scion FR-S is an affordable sports car that’s fun to drive. Sure, there’s a lot of competition out there in the form of more powerful and slightly more expensive offerings, but that just means one of our favorite segments of the industry is getting crowded. That’s a good thing. If you throw used cars into the equation, the waters certainly begin to get muddied, but that’s true of all segments of the industry.
What we have here is a car that handles wonderfully, allows you to row your own gears, and wants to be pushed hard to boot. The steering is tight and communicative, and the brakes and suspension work together to keep the car moving in the direction you’ve intended. The drift crowd might actually be a bit surprised by just how much grip the FR-S offers up. Yes, you can get it sideways, but it takes more effort than I would’ve guessed judging by all the other reviews that talk about the rear-end dancing around. I felt none of that unless I came into a corner way too hot. Even then, I had enough brakes to reel the car back in.
Could it use more power? Yes, of course it could, and don’t be surprised to see turbos popping up under the hood at future auto shows. Still, it’s enough power to entertain most drivers on most roads. During my little look-at-me demonstration in the video, I realize that the first donut was assisted by hitting the dirt. That was not intended, so we had to do a few more takes… you know, for science. Then we got asked to leave that parking lot before the police were called to beat our heads in… for more science. Simply put, there’s power there, you just have to thrash the car to find it. Not a problem for me since my daily driver is a 2000 Honda Civic Si, in fact it felt normal.
To sum up, the 2013 Scion FR-S is a good entry-level sports car. Anyone who buys one will have a great time. Eventually though, the will want to step up the car’s performance game. Luckily for them, this car is ripe for a good tuning. Start with power and tires then move on to brakes and suspension, and you’ll wind up with a great sports car.
[Disclosure: Scion let us borrow the FR-S for a week, and included half a tank of gas. There was supposed to be a full tank of gas, but maybe the lot porter had some fun before handing it over to us. Oh well, if we were a Buff Book we would’ve keyed the car, and stolen an IS-F, but we just punched it out of the lot and hit the highway home to Huntington Beach.]