Las Vegas, Nevada – What happens when two Japanese auto manufacturers join forces to develop a formidable, yet reasonable sports coupe? You come up with a most capable yet affordable sports coupe that is extremely fun to drive under the guise of two distinctive marques. The vehicle or vehicles in question are the Scion FR-S and the Subaru BRZ, which are nearly identical in terms of design and mechanical composition. The two cars differ only in the front and rear fascia treatment, headlamp styling and of course badging.
We’ll deal with the 2013 Scion FR-S here – the fifth model to join the Scion family, with power delivered to the rear-wheels through either a 6-speed manual gearbox or a 6-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with Sport mode, paddle shifters and Dynamic Rev Management. The engine is an FA2O 2.0-liter DOHC, 16-valve, flat horizontally-opposed “boxer” four-cylinder with D4-S (Direct and Sequential Port Injection) that cranks out 200 horses at 7,000 rpm, while developing 151 pound feet of torque in a range from 6,400-6,600 rpm. Premium fuel is required.
Pricing for the FR-S (which stands for Front-engine, Rear-wheel drive, Sport) will begin at $24,200 when equipped with the 6-speed manual gearbox, or $25,300 when fitted with the 6-speed automatic transmission.
The FR-S is a true “scion” that draws upon heritage from a long history of Toyota performance cars and motorsports. It was most inspired by the AE86 generation of the Corolla, best known as the Hachi-Roku, meaning “8-6” in Japanese. The AE86 was a front engine, rear-wheel drive, lightweight, well-balanced coupe that made it a prime choice of driving enthusiasts. The FR-S was designed around the core goal of achieving “Pure balance”, beginning with the strategic utilization of the world’s only flat boxer engine in a front-engine, rear-wheel drive configuration. The engine’s compact size and flat shape allow it to be mounted in a low, mid-ship position, resulting in a dynamically favorable front-to-rear weight ratio of 53:47 along with a low center of gravity that is comparable to many exotic supercars.
Despite its powerful 100-horsepower per liter, the FR-S yields an estimated EPA rating of 34 mpg on the highway with the automatic transmission or 30 mpg with the manual gearbox. FR-S tips the scale at 2,758 pounds with the manual and 2,806 with the automatic. Weight is kept to a minimum by the implementation of an aluminum hood, a solid roof and by a trunk rather than a hatch design.
The low weight is complemented by dynamically tuned suspension componentry consisting of MacPherson struts forward and a double wishbone setup aft. Positive steering feel is provided by Electronic Power Steering and the FR-S rides on lightweight 17×7-inch alloy wheels. Ventilated disc brakes are standard at all four corners. Experienced performance driving enthusiasts will appreciate the Vehicle Stability Control and Traction Control systems, which may be set in a combination of five configurations.
In terms of its stunning exterior visual appeal, the FR-S reflects its inner power – its aerodynamic profile was inspired by the iconic (and now extremely rare) Toyota 2000GT, with a low, sleek roofline that directs airflow cleanly and efficiently over the gracefully curved cabin. The stance is low and the face delivers a menacing competitive look with its sharp expressive lines and forms, such as the wide lower intake and angular headlight assembly that houses projector-beam headlamps. The front fenders protrude aggressively upward, and display the iconic “86” piston badge, highlighting the car’s AE86 DNA as well as its new boxer engine. Moving to the rear, the fascia sits low and wide, with a diffuser panel that encases the sporty dual exhaust system. LEDs showcase the edgy taillamps along with center-mounted backup lights. The FR-S comes available in a choice of seven exterior colors.
The interior features 2+2 seating with deeply bolstered, supportive and comfortable seats up front, with a rear seatback that folds flat for added versatility and functionality. A large, center-mounted tachometer is the focal point of the three gauge main cluster that also features a programmable shift indicator, allowing the driver to set rev limits in 100 -rpm limits beginning at 2,000 rpm. Speed is measured by both digital and analog gauges. The three-spoke steering wheel both tilts and telescopes.
A soft skin dash cover delivers a flat horizon design with a raised centerline rib, which in combination with the pronounced front fender bulges aid in keeping the driver intuitively oriented with the car’s position. The FR-S will be the first Scion model to offer a connected multimedia audio system called BeSpoke, powered by Pioneer’s Zypr.
FR-S is equipped with a host of standard safety features including: six airbags, Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Vehicle Stability control, Brake Assist, ABS and Smart Stop Technology.
My test pre-production 2013 Scion FR-S sport coupe wore an exterior finish of Whiteout – pearlescent metallic white, with a Charcoal and Black interior featuring red stitching. The base sticker read $23,405. Which came to $24,135 after adding the destination and handling fees. An impressive array of options will be available for personalization and customization of one’s FR-S.
Considering the starting price point of the 2013 Scion FR-S sports coupe, and its performance credentials, it’s clearly destined to become a winner. It serves up a most attractive and appealing design, with harmonious and well balanced lines and contours. It evokes a bold, athletic image even when parked.
Acceleration is indeed impressive, as are the precise handling characteristics. The ride quality is comfortable, but not benign. To put this latest model Scion through its paces, journalists from across the country were afforded the opportunity to pilot the FR-S over both a challenging road course and timed autocross venue at the private Springhill Motorsports Park race facility located in Pahrump, NV, just over 70 miles outside Las Vegas. Exercises included 3 individual laps on the autocross course, variously disabling traction and stability systems to get a proper feel for the car’s capability under different driving scenarios. I personally achieved better times and results with all systems turned off.
The all-new FR-S delivers fun in spades under normal driving conditions or on a racecourse with an almost unbelievable starting price under $25,000. Add to that, Scion’s 3-year/36,000 mile limited warranty and 5-year/60,000 powertrain warranty, along with Scion’s complimentary Scion Service Boost program and the FR-S is a no-brainer for the 2+2 sports coupe set.