In the car world, nothing creates a halo like a sports car but when you’re the brand positioned at the entry level of the industry, building one wouldn’t seem feasible. Enter the FR-S, the newest model for Scion and one that’s sure to do what halos do, bring car buyers to the showroom.
The FR-S stands for Front-engine, Rear-wheel drive (RWD), Sport making it the only Scion configured in such a way. Considered the mark of a true sports car, RWD pushes rather than pulls a vehicle. Exceptional balance and a low center of gravity factor in as well. At the recent launch of the FR-S in Las Vegas, spending half a day on a racetrack accentuated all of the above.
The FR-S is inspired by the AE86 generation of the Corolla, better known as the Hachi-Roku, meaning “8-6” in Japanese. Like the FR-S, the AE86 coupe featured a front-engine, RWD configuration that was lightweight and well balanced.
A joint development between Subaru and Toyota, the FR-S is powered by a 2.0-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder boxer engine. It earns EPA estimated city/highway ratings of 25/34 miles per gallon (mpg) on the highway when paired with the optional automatic transmission, and 22/30 mpg with the manual transmission.
The engine’s compact size and flat shape allow it to be mounted mid-ship and extremely low, giving the car a favorable front-to-rear weight ratio and low center of gravity, i.e. it hugs the road, curves included.
Adding to its performance, the automatic transmission features Dynamic Rev Management technology that quickly raises the engine speed to help match engine revs to gear ratios on downshifts. It also features Sport Mode that quickens shift timing as well as throttle response.
Improving handling, MacPherson struts up front and a double wishbone system in the rear, compliment the car’s low weight. The standard Electronic Power Steering offers excellent steering feedback and input.
All of these features add up to a driving experience that the average driver will appreciate, much less Fernando Alonso wannabes. I have little need for speed yet this car gave me the confidence to drive more aggressively during track exercises and more importantly, the ability to enjoy the experience.
On the inside, bolstered front seats and a leather-trimmed tilt and telescopic steering wheel continue the sporty theme, while the rear seat folds down flat, creating flexible space. It will also come standard with unique FR-S badged floor mats.
Other standard creature comforts include an eight-speaker AM/FM/CD/USB 300-watt maximum output Pioneer audio system, air conditioning, power windows, cruise control, HD Radio technology and Bluetooth connectivity.
A first for Scion, the FR-S offers a connected multimedia audio system called BeSpoke, that allows owners to connect to iPhones and add personal content to the onboard infotainment system like Facebook, Twitter, and Internet radio.
Standard safety features include six airbags, including dual-stage advanced driver- and front-passenger airbags, front-seat-mounted airbags and side-curtain airbags.
Like all Scions, the FR-S features the Star Safety System that includes Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Vehicle Stability Control, Brake Assist, the Anti-lock Braking System, and Smart Stop Technology (SST).
Launched as a younger, entry-level brand to Toyota, Scion steps up its profile with a car that has cross-generational appeal.
The “no haggle” pricing for the 2013 FR-S is $24,955 with a manual transmission and $26,055 for the automatic.