2013 Scion FR-S
It’s All About Balance
By Ron Amadon
DAMASCUS, MD. – Balance makes things work.
A gymnast needs it to bring home a gold medal, a circus performer to walk on a wire. In baseball, a combination of pitching, hitting and defense is crucial if a team is to compete over a long season.
And a nice combination of power, handling, engineering and style make for a perfect sports car such as this weekend’s Scion FR-S.
Pop open the hood and you will see something rather unique. Two names, Subaru and Toyota, catch your eye on top of the engine instead of the traditional single name designation.
It is no secret that the FR-S and the Subaru BRZ were developed jointly by the two automakers and the end result should gladden the hearts of anyone who hankers for a basic, modern, fun to drive two-seater in the tradition of English sports cars of old. With one exception – the SubyToy is expected to be rock solid dependable.
Sporting those two names is a 2.0 liter horizontally opposed Suby four mounted low and to the rear of its enclosure, thus improving the car’s center of gravity. It delivers 200 hp @ 7,000 rpm and 151 lb-ft of torque @ 6,600 rpm. While not enough to drive up your testosterone level to dangerous highs, if one exercises the excellent six-speed manual box there is more than enough power to quickly achieve freeway speeds, and exceed them.
Handling is such that you will go out searching for twisty back roads and challenging interstate ramps. The rear wheel drive FR-S has a Torsen limited slip differential, with McPherson struts up front with a multilink suspension setup out back. Seventeen inch wheels are standard.
Look for a 0-60 run in about 6.5 seconds with the manual box and a bit more with the optional automatic. You will WANT the stick. Right from the start it feels like a box you have been driving for say, the last ten years.
Clutch take up was light but toward the top of the pedal travel in the test car, requiring a short period of adjustment.
Inside, you will find true bucket seats that grab you like a long lost girl friend at a high school reunion who just found out you are single. During a long day’s drive I never once fiddled with the seat settings, and that is more than I can say about a number of cars. There is plenty of room up front for two tall occupants. Rear seats are strictly for storage in the classic sports car tradition. There is a small trunk for light visits to the Safeway, yet no one buys this kind of car for heavy hauling duties.
All controls come readily to hand, and they are basic. No navi system here, no zillions of buttons to decipher, no touch screen to smudge. Just an AM-FM radio in the test car that was ready to chat with whatever audio device that came along, plus Bluetooth of course.
Yet I seldom turned the audio system on, preferring to enjoy the sounds of the suspension working, the purring of the four at speed and yes, even some wind noise – an elemental getting to know you relationship of man and machine that is missing in more refined and expensive wheels.
And there was lots of feedback from the FR-S, through the small, but right sized steering wheel, tied to the best electric steering system I have yet experienced.
The four settled down nicely when shifted into sixth gear – a kind of overdrive and fuel saver. The test car is EPA rated at 22-30 mpg and I recorded 29 mpg with more than a few runs to the red line. Scion recommends premium petrol.
If I could have a wish list for the FR-S it would be for another 10 to 20 horsepower, something that the car could easily handle. And a convertible model, I firmly predict, would have crowds backed up around the block at Suby and Scion dealers. It would make for a fascinating comparison test with the upcoming new Mazda/Alfa MX-5 Miata.
With two small options, (more are available at Scion dealers), the test car would sell for $25,066 including $730 for delivery. This should make the loan officer happy.
Younger readers who have not experienced the joy of a basic sports car should do so before the family starts to grow. New empty nesters, just out of a big SUV, can be quickly reminded how much fun driving can be again, at prices that should please the household treasury secretary.