2013 Scion FR-S Road Test Review
by Martha Hindes
2013 Sexy Car Buyer's Guide - Top 10 Most Sex Appeal
There's little doubt Scion was hijacking hormones when it created the FR-S sports coupe for 2013. At least, for the six-speed manual that arrived in our driveway. The slim-shaped tuxedo black body in a shade called "Raven," the smoked, five spoke wheel rims, the flat, matte black instrument panel with no nonsense gauges and dials, and rear spoiler all announced an expectation of brash exhilaration from a rather male point of view. (As if women don't appreciate that same kick.)
We know there were male considerations, such as the length of the seat track that slid back far enough to accommodate a lean, lanky, oh-so-delicious Ashton Kutcher behind the wheel. (We expect it also would meet with the approval of his current raven-haired squeeze, Mila Kunis.) We appreciate the peek-a-boo triangular window inserts by the front windshield pillar (the "A-pillar" in car biz talk) that can accommodate the visibility needs of a driver of lesser stature sitting in the low front seating that adjusts fore and aft but not for height.
Add to that the reaction of some couples walking down a street as the male of the pair yanked his head around for a better look, a hint of envy crossing his face. Her reaction, a bit more subtle save the need to give him a nudge for responding so strongly.
Maybe we can take some of the responsibility for that reaction since during scheduling we had answered the question: "Do you prefer a manual or automatic transmission?" with "Always a manual, in order of preference."
If that opened the door for a vehicle trimmed with testosterone tendencies, we can forgive Scion for making the assumption a stick shift auto might not interest the distaff side. (We assume they are aware of Danica Patrick.)
But the whole impact of "POW" can get under your skin really fast (or rally fast if you want a play on words.)
Catch the bright red shoulder inserts and neat red saddle stitching on black cloth bolstered sport seats and floor mats, leather-wrapped tilt-telescoping steering wheel, plus aluminum pedals and dual chrome exhaust. With those distractions, one might overlook the small rear seatwells for two additional passengers that technically make this a four-seater coupe. The shoulder belt holders with tabs that actually snap or unsnap to let someone ride in back underscore that intent.
There are some looks that just scream male and others that suggest female (leaving out anything pink). But for a true enthusiast, the real test is putting the key in the ignition and finding out what it's made of.
We soaked up the attitude once the key was turned and the raspy exhaust rumble started calling for a trip at speed. The short-throw shifter begged for action and a punch on the accelerator such as peeling onto a freeway ramp from a near standstill as a substitute for a dragstrip's light sequence. The center-mounted analog tachometer, with superimposed digital speedometer, sends a pretty clear message. Once we tested the accelerator, the steering that ached to do right-angle turns, the response to tight cornering, we were sold.
The FR-S that fills the need for an entry-level sports coupe at Scion, is rear drive in true sports car mode, and powered by a 2.0-liter, four cylinder boxer engine.
Depending on whom you ask, the vehicle is based on the Subaru boxer engine-propelled BRZ sports/rally car, or vice versa. Whatever! It delivers 200-horsepower and 151 lb.-ft. of torque and with six speed manual is rated at 22-city, 30-highway and 25-combined. The six-speed automatic (with manual-mode paddle shifters) is rated at 25-city, 34-highway and 28 combined. The FR-S uses premium fuel to get those results.
For hot sounds, one shouldn't miss the 300-watt, eight-speaker, Pioneer audio system installed where a navigation screen might live in a tonier (and pricier) set of wheels. But we don't think the FR-S is meant to be a hook for an attorney who just made partner in a law firm. Rather, it's definitely designed for the younger crowd who will grow from a Scion into a Toyota (Scion's automotive parent) then to a luxury Lexus at some point as youthful inhibitions morph into more ambitious, luxury seeking consumer wants.
Although not yet safety-rated, the FR-S has Toyota's STAR safety system, with standard airbag system plus stability controls, ABS, electronic brake distribution, brake assist and engine immobilizer.
Our test model surprised us, since it didn't include any options. The total sticker price was $24,930 and only included $730 for delivery and handling above the $24,200 base. Add about $2K more for the automatic, then go and expect to turn some heads. You might even pass Ashton Kutcher on your drive.