If you want a powerful rear-drive sports car, it is an easy quest. Check the Chevy Corvette, Porsche 911, Ford Mustang, or Nissan 370Z for a start.
But what if we put a $25,000 price cap on it? Well, good luck with that! The choices become quite limited. You can’t even buy a Pontiac Solstice or Saturn Sky anymore. The Hyundai Genesis is a great car, but be patient. Scion is on the way with its 2013 FR-S.
Scion’s goal was to create an affordable sports car that true driving enthusiasts could enjoy.
—Scion VP Jack Hollis
“The FR-S will definitely be Scion’s halo car,” said Scion vice president Jack Hollis. “While the brand has been iconic with the xB, adrenalized by the tC, and groundbreaking with the new iQ, the addition of the FR-S expands the brand into a new dimension of driving performance.”
Born of a joint venture with Subaru, which will sell the similar BRZ, Scion’s FR-S is the brand’s first rear-drive car of any type and will crank up the electricity for a new beat of drivers.
Engineers and designers admittedly had the Toyota AE86-generation Corolla in mind as they set about with this new car. In its day, it was the benchmark for lightweight, balanced handling and style.
Performance starts with a 2.0-liter 4–cylinder that was jointly developed by Toyota and Subaru, but is essentially the latter’s renowned horizontally opposed “boxer” engine with Toyota’s direct-injection system.
It delivers 200 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque, hitting 100 hp per liter while still turning in 34-MPG on the highway with a paddle-shifted 6-speed automatic, or 30-MPG with the available 6-speed manual.
The key advantage of a boxer engine is its low center of gravity. Combined with the rear-drive layout and far-back placement of the front engine, the car promises outstanding balance. Scion claims a 53:47 front-to-rear weight ratio—not bad for a front-engine car.
The short-throw shifter on manual-equipped cars encourages spirited driving, but the automatic with Sport mode for delayed upshifts and dynamic rev matching for smooth downshifting make the most of today’s technology. A limited-slip differential spreads power to the pavement evenly.
If the saying about there being no substitute for cubic inches has gone the way of big-block Chevys, then we can now rely on the adage that nothing helps performance like a good diet. An aluminum hood, solid roof, and trunk instead of a hatchback help keep weight to just 2,758 lbs. for vehicles with manual transmissions or 2,806 for those with automatics.
MacPherson struts in the front and a double wishbone design in the rear give the FR-S an athletic suspension system. Electric power steering and 4-wheel ventilated disc brakes enable precision on the road or road course.
Sporting Flair, Inside and Out
From a brand best known for varying sizes of boxes, the FR-S is one sexy machine. A long draping hood flows into a swept-back windshield, fastback roofline, and upturned rear deck.
There’s a lot of first-generation Datsun Z in the shape and details, but the Scion cuts the clutter with LED tail lamps, 17” alloy wheels, large honeycomb air intakes, and dark diffuser panel with protruding dual exhausts at the rear. Historic details like the aggressive front fenders, angular headlights, and low roofline tie the FR-S to classic Toyotas like the 2000GT and AE86.
Even while providing enough space for two kids in the rear seats, the 4-place coupe continues its sporting flair inside. Front buckets hug your sides; rear seats fold flat for extended cargo space.
In front of a simple 3-gauge instrument cluster is a small-diameter leather-wrapped wheel. The cool programmable redline indicator and a raised rib in the dashtop help drivers find their groove, while a 300-watt Pioneer audio system with CD/USB inputs brings the tunes. Scion’s first BeSpoke audio system links in iPhones for Facebook, Twitter, and Internet radio.
As with all Scions, the FR-S is covered by a 3-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Bringing more peace is Scion Service Boost that includes complimentary factory-scheduled service for the first two years or 25,000 miles.
“Scion’s goal was to create an affordable sports car that true driving enthusiasts could enjoy,” said Hollis.“We accomplished that with a starting price under $25,000, which is a total home run for buyers! Add in scion’s complimentary Scion Service Boost, our dealers’ no-haggle no-hassle Pure Price, and Scion’s network of about 1,000 dealers, and the FR-S is a grand slam.”
4-passenger RWD Coupe
Powertrain: 200 hp 2.0-litre H4
Suspension f/r: Ind./Ind
Wheels: 17”/17” f/r
Brakes: disc/disc fr/rr with ABS
Must-have features: style, agility
Fuel economy (AT): 25/34 city/hwy
Base price: $24,930
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