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A Hooniverse Thanksgiving Turkey – The Scion FR-S


 Oh yes I did. 

The FR-S wins my vote as a Hooniverse Thanksgiving Turkey becuase Scion came so close, but fell so short.  These are heady days when it comes to performance numbers.  Automakers are stuffing enough horses into cars these days to make the muscle cars of the ’60s look like a bunch of Shriner cars.  The FR-S?   Not so much.

Power: 200 hp @ 7000 rpm
Torque: 151 lb-ft @ 6600 rpm

Not exactly earth-shattering numbers.  151 lb-ft of torque?  Compare that to an ordinary Toyota Camry at 268 lb-ft.  Those numbers add up to a 6 second 0-60 time and 15.7 second 1/4 mile times.  The Camry? Autoweek was able to squeeze out a 14.7 second 1/4 mile out of the V6 model.  Those numbers make me think the FR-S would be a great secretary car. 

The FR-S I drove was black with an automatic transmission, which admittedly turned me even more against the car.  It had paddle shifters on the steering wheel which, even though I gave them input about when I wanted to shift, seemed to have a 2 or 3 second delay in communicating my whims to the transmission. 

On the plus side, the car behaves great.  It turns well, it is relatively sure-footed, and it’s fun to push.  You know what they say, it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than to drive a fast car slow.  One thing I’ve seen lauded over and over in reviews is the car’s playful oversteer at the limit, which is certainly fun.  However, to me, Scion didn’t have a car with impressive capabilities, so they lowered its limits by installing not-very-grippy Prius tires.  Neat trick, Scion.  Our own Jeff Glucker proved the ineffectiveness of those tires by doing some clutch-drop donuts (in the dirt) in his video review.  His review was much more glowing than mine.  (I’ll probably get fired for dissent.)


 Another item I disliked about the FR-S was how Scion-y it is.  (Note:  My personal car for the last 5 years was a first-gen Scion xB, so I am well-versed on Scion-y.) The interior feels very cheap.  Ugly cloth seats, red stitching in the seats no matter what color the exterior of the car is, a sea of plastic, and plenty of road noise all add up to a distinct feeling that you are in a cheap car.  The problem is, it’s not all that cheap.  The price point is around $25k.  For that much, you could step into a Mini Cooper S or a Volvo C30.  Neither of those are direct competitors…or are they? 


As I understand it, the 200 hp number is intentional, as are the two pretend rear seats in the FR-S.  Those two details will help make the car more insurable.  The car is aimed squarely at the 20-something buyer, who can use all the help they can get when it comes to insurance rates. 

So to recap, Scion made a nice looking little coupe that has unimpressive performance, looks good, is fun to drive, and feels cheap.  As I am wont to say, “It’s good for who it’s for.” 


Scott Ith is an Associate Editor with Hooniverse.com, but he also contributes to his own site NeedThatCar.com.  Head over there for more hoony goodness.


  • facelvega

    I thought Celicas were supposed to be cheap.

    • Bring back the Tercel. Or is that the Yaris?

      Also, this Subaru/Toyota is much better than an Eclipse or V6 Mustang, no?

      • danleym

        If we're just talking performance, that V6 Mustang gets over 300hp. I don't know about 1/4 mile time, though. However, I, who admittedly skew American in automotive preferences, would take an FR-S over a Mustang.

        I think the only damaging thing about the FR-S is the price. It was designed to be a cheap, fun, tossable car, and from everything I've read (I haven't driven one), it succeeded in two of those areas. If it was closer to $20K, I don't think there would be much to complain about.

      • facelvega

        It was supposed to be the new 240z or a hartdop miata. Instead it turns out that it's just a miniature 350z or like a boring-looking, slow solstice coupe. Now we just need Hyundai to toss out the mediocre veloster and put out the real celica wrx, and another nail in the coffin of the Japanese automotive industry will be hammered in.

        • e24tony

          I'd call it better than a hardtop Miata. It's also in the same price range as the Miata.

          • facelvega

            I was just trying to play along with the turkey thing. I actually don't mind the toyobaru at all.

  • I disagree, but I enjoy that this is posted here.

    Yes, the first shot was in the dirt, and I was bummed the editor used that take – the next one is not in the dirt… after that we were asked not very nicely to leave.

    Also, the tires have plenty of grip… the Prius-tire thing is easy to get huffy about. Problem is that the tires in question are JDM-spec upgraded tires for more grip. I hammered this thing back and forth across the canyon roads, first with traction on because I was worried about the rear end coming around (due to all the other reviews), then with traction off and no slipping just sweet sweet corning.

    I recently had the chance to drive a few of these on a track, and it was even better there than out on the street.

    Yes… I agree 100% that the car needs more power though, it's a bit of a dog unless you're revving the crap out of it.

    I think we should be happy that this car exists… a relatively affordable, rear-wheel-drive, front-engined sports car – the more the merrier, and I think future versions can only get better (Come on down, Subaru BRZ STI! Come on down, Scion FR-S TRD!

    • buzzboy7

      STi with the EJ255, with 265hp? Sounds awesome.

  • Dean Bigglesworth
  • e24tony

    As an owner of a BRZ I don't agree with the post, but I'm glad it's here for discussion.

    Oh and I strongly suggest you to test a manual equipped car. The AT is nice but geared for MPG.

    • Cory

      6MT CBS Limited here!

  • DerangedStoat

    " The price point is around $25k. For that much, you could step into a Mini Cooper S or a Volvo C30"

    It's funny how when you look at this car in a different market (in my case the Australian one) this car represents so much more value for money compared to it's competitors.
    Over here the 86 is $30-35k (86-86GT, before on-road costs), which is much cheaper than any other comparable sports car. MX5's here are ~$50k new, and the Cooper S and C40 mentioned above are ~$40k (although after on road costs, the GT model is nearing those prices)
    There really aren't any comparable new sports cars for that pricing here.

    • Lucas

      Also, both those cars, as well as the Camry which the author apparently loves so much, are FWD. Am I on Hooniverse or did I accidentally browse over to consumer reports?

  • Maymar

    I sort of cringe any time the Scion's power is complained about – granted, it's a little weedy, but it's sort of not the point. If we're perfectly honest, it's sort of ridiculous that I could walk into any Toyota dealer, and walk out with a Camry that will do a 14 second quarter mile. It won't hurt us to scale back the power wars before some governmental body does it by force (and as I'm a cheapskate, we might even save a bit of gas that way). It's not so much the lack of power that gives me pause regarding the Toyobaru, it's the Fiat 500 Abarth.

    Unfortunately, I haven't gotten to hoon one hard enough to discuss its handling merits, although it seemed responsive enough around the block.

  • Cory

    Clarkson gets the Toyobaru's, why doesn't anyone else? I LOVE my BRZ and think that, for what it is, the power is adequate. It's purpose is to have an engaging drive that will force the driver to really WORK the car to get the most out of it. No, it isn't a 1 million hp quintuple turbo V-20. No, it doesn't have the grip to jump start the planet. It never was designed to though.

    It was made to fill the adage of slow car fast vs. fast car slow.

  • rwb

    The Camry comparison is the Godwin's Law of bench racing.

  • MrHowser

    It feels strange to live in a world where 6 seconds to 60 and 15.7 in the quarter is a secretary's car. That walks all over anything on 4 wheels that I've ever owned.

  • Ol'Shel'

    If you think that any front-driver compares, you're not only mistaken, you're also a bad person.