First Drive 2013 Scion FR-S By Henny Hemmes

2013 Scion FR-S (select to view enlarged photo)
2013 Scion FR-S

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

REDONDO BEACH California, November 21, 2012. Many young people have waited for the Scion FR-S to hit the North American market. The equivalent of the Toyota GT 86 and Subaru BRZ just arrived here and during my stay well before the opening of the LA Auto Show,

I could call this bright red one ‘mine’ - for several days at least.

2013 Scion FR-S (select to view enlarged photo)

Upon arrival in California, I went directly to see one of my friends, who owns a Ski and Swim Outlet in Redondo Beach. When I arrived this time, he didn't wait for me to come in but rushed through the open doors of his store as soon as he saw the FR-S driving onto the parking lot. Out in the bright California sun he pointed at the Scion; "What is this? It looks like a small Maserati". The designers have to take it as a big compliment.

2013 Scion FR-S (select to view enlarged photo)

Quite a few young drivers are looking for an exiting and affordable sports car and now the choice is expanded with two new models: the Scion FR-S (which stands for front-engine, rear-wheel drive) and Subaru BRZ. Together with the Toyota GT 86, they are the result of a joint production of Toyota and Subaru. Toyota signed for the design, provided the engine’s ‘breathing system’ and direct fuel injection. Subaru developed the four-cylinder boxer engine, transmission and suspension and builds the cars, which is clearly visible under the hood: the name Subaru is stamped in the fenders and on the engine it says: ‘Toyota, D-4S, Boxer, Subaru’

With rear wheel drive, the new sports cars will attract drivers who want to be able, or to practice, to drift, like their big examples in ‘Tokyo Drift’. But last year, when Subaru presented the BRZ concept, the product engineer said that drifting was not number one on their wish list. What they wanted to achieve was actually a well balanced sports car with absolutely good handling qualities and an optimal steering feel.

2013 Scion FR-S (select to view enlarged photo)

After jumping into the car and adjusting the seat and steering wheel for the best driving position, I push the start button and get going! I miss the defined sound of the 200 hp strong 2.0-liter flat four engine, which has been isolated away in the FR-S. Only when nearing the read line, there is the well known boxer snarl. Other than that, the Scion immediately gives away its real character with good feed back of the steering gear and chassis.

With a low weight of 2,758 lbs. and a low center of gravity, it is stable and hardly shows any body roll in corners. The double wishbone suspension and a firm damper spring combination provide excellent handling. A limited slip differential is standard and the steering is electronically.


2013 Scion FR-S (select to view enlarged photo)

The FR-S eagerly goes into corners and precisely takes the line you intend. It feels like the car drives like on rails, really neutral. The 215/45/17 Michelin Primacy HP rubber add to sticking to the asphalt. Pushing the throttle, you feel the rear end loosening up and resulting in a drift. Gently directing the wheels in the other direction, immediately corrects it.

Indeed, you can play with the throttle for a nice well-balanced drift, but the corner should not be too long. To provide opposite lick cornering, the engine lacks torque and dies out. It is a result of the 151 pound-feet of torque being available at high revs: 6,400-6,600 rpm.

2013 Scion FR-S (select to view enlarged photo)

But this does not mean that the FR-S would need a heavier engine. In daily life, you hardly can drift around every corner – Smokey will get you – but if you want a sporty drive, you’ll have to work and shift to keep the revs up. In case you are in the learning curve, there is the electronic stability program to help you point the car in the right direction again, although I feel that even in Sport it is interfering too soon. The 6-speed manual has a short-throw lever, but it shifts a bit harsh. A 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and Dynamic Rev Management is also available (as a $ 100 option).

2013 Scion FR-S (select to view enlarged photo)

2013 Scion FR-S (select to view enlarged photo)

The interior is simple but works well, with supportive sports seats and a nice dashboard. The only question I can ask: why there are to seats in the rear that nobody can use. But folding them down, provides a lot of space, which you may need to take wheels and other stuff when you join a track day. Because with a sports car as nimble as the FR-S, there will be many owners heading for the race track to have a lot of fun. The Scion is a lovely play mobile

The Scion is no super car, but it is a sports car in the true sense, a lovely play mobile, with excellent handling. With prices starting at $24,200 MSRP, we will undoubtedly see many of them around.

At the 2012 SEMA show the Scion FR-S got industry recognition with the Hottest Sport Compact award. Chris Kersting, SEMA president and CEO said: “Since its arrival on the market, last June, the FR-S has been picked by many in the specialty equipment industry for its power, authenticity and ability to inspire customization.”

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