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2016 Scion FR-S Road Test Review by Bob Plunkett

2016 Scion FR-S Road Test Review

By Bob Plunkett

Scion FR-S the slinky GT-style sports car adds trim and gear

Scion's FR-S -- a slinky 2+2 coupe with hatchback styling and sport-tuned hardware rigged for performance with a front-mounted powerplant and rear-wheel-drive orientation -- for model-year 2016 dresses the cockpit with bright silver interior trim elements and installs a rear-view backup camera plus a new audio system with a 7-inch touch-screen display.

And two new color chips pop up on the 2016 paint palette:  Ablaze red and Oceanic blue. Other shades include Raven, Asphalt, Fire Storm, Hot Lava, Steel and Halo.

The 2016 FR-S amounts to a genuine rear-wheel-drive sports car which offers a racy-slick body shell, driver-oriented cockpit with flexible seat/cargo configuration, keen weight balance for performance and handling, respectable fuel economy figures and surprisingly modest price tags.

Toyota's classic long-snout 2000GT of 1967 served as inspiration for the body design of the modern FR-S, which features a long hood and GT-type hatchback tail with a pagoda-style stepped roofline and ultra low stance. The Scion sports coupe has a pointed shark-nosed face with fat-lip fascia tinted to the body color. Fenders bulge like muscles to make room for the Michelin Primacy HP 215/45R17 summer tires and there's that radical rake of the windshield which seems akin to the streamlined canopy of an F-18 Hornet fighter jet.

The 2+2 cockpit seems far more spacious than you would expect from a compact-class vehicle. Driver and a companion sit low on contoured buckets with deep bolsters and suede-like cloth fabric upholstery. Two rear jump seats, perhaps suitable only for Barbie and Ken, come with a seatback which folds down to increase storage space in the rear cargo bay.

There's a symmetrical dash with the instrument panel adding a cluster of easy-read analog gauges.

The leather-bound steering wheel, only 14.4 inches in diameter, has tilt and telescopic adjustments plus paddle shifters attached on models with automatic transmission.

Engineers from Toyota and Subaru collaborated to design and build the lightweight 4-cylinder boxer-style engine shared by the Scion FR-S and Subaru's BRZ as well as the low-to-the-ground chassis with independent suspension components including front MacPherson struts and a double-wishbone at the rear plus a stabilizer bar fore and aft.

The speed-sensing steering system gets electric power assistance, which eliminates a load of hydraulic equipment and contributes to the efficiency of the engine.

Brakes consist of a disc at each wheel with computer-controlled ABS (anti-lock brake system) as well as EBD (electronic brake force distribution) -- which measures differences in speed for front and rear wheels, then doles out proper braking force to all wheels -- and a VSC (vehicle stability control) device and TRAC (traction control), even a TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system).

For motivation the 2016 FR-S totes a highly efficient 2.0-liter engine with DOHC (dual overhead cam) design and the four cylinders opposed horizontally. Constructed from lightweight aluminum and plastic composites, the plant features direct ignition and electronic throttle plus Toyota's VVT-i (dual intelligent variable valve timing).

The engine produces 200 hp at 7000 rpm and 151 lb-ft of torque between 6400-6600 rpm.

Federal EPA fuel economy estimates tally to 22/35 mpg city/highway with the standard manual gearbox and 25/34 mpg city/highway with the optional electronic automatic.

Standard cabin contents include air conditioning, power controls for windows and door locks, front sport bucket seats with fabric upholstery, 6-way driver seat and 4-way front passenger seat with integrated headrests, a tilting/telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, aluminum sport pedals and scuff plates, digital and analog speedometer plus center-mounted tachometer with programmable rev indicator.

Optional accessories include foglamps, a rear spoiler, wheel locks and various performance enhancements from TRD (Toyota Racing Development) such as 18-inch alloy wheels, lowering springs, sway bars, big front brakes, cold air intake and a performance exhaust kit.

MSRP for the 2016 FR-S tallies to $25,305 with a 6-speed manual transmission. Adding the 6-speed electronic automatic shifter with paddle shifters, Sport Mode, DRM (dynamic rev management) technology plus a Torsen LSD (limited-slip differential), bumps the tag to $26,405.