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Aaron Gold

Test drive: 2013 Scion FR-S

By April 25, 2012

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2013 Scion FR-S

Okay, I'll admit it -- I had my doubts about FR-S. 200 horsepower? And more importantly, rear-drive a sports car from Toyota? With the help of those all-wheel-drive experts from Subaru? Talk about having the deck stacked against you. So did the FR-S meet my low expectations? All will be revealed in my 2013 Scion FR-S review. -- Aaron Gold

Photo © Toyota

April 25, 2012 at 11:23 am
(1) J Kyle says:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Toyota should be strung from a tree for badging this car as a Scion. Such a magnificent vehicle, stuck amongst the slow, ugly cars for teenagers who care more about the volume of the radio than performance. Especially silly considering that it’s supposed to recall Toyotas of old. What better way to bring a little life into the Toyota showrooms, which currently have all the excitement of a Pet Rock? The rest of the world gets it properly badged as a Toyota.

Of course, it really is a Subaru. Subaru engineering, chassis, engine, built by Subaru employees in a Subaru plant…

Anyway – you’re wrong about prices.
The Scion starts at $24,930 w/destination.
The BRZ Premium is $26,265,and the Limited is $28,265, both w/destination.

What do you get for the extra $1,335?
Navigation system, potentially with Aha Radio integration (Aha says it’ll be there, Subaru is still mum on it)
HID headlights with auto mode
More attractive bumper
A more respected nameplate that will likely hold its value better.

The BRZ Limited adds heated Alcantara/leather seats and heated mirrors, foglights, security system, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless access and start system (key never leaves your pocket).

All of the above are things not available on the FR-S at any price.

Of note – the BRZ has unique HVAC controls from the FR-S, and they felt fine in the Premium model I drove. The Limited’s should be even better.

The BRZ seats are not leather, they are Alcantara with leather bolsters. Having had Alcantara seats in my daily driver for almost eight years now, I can say that Alcantara is very close to a must-have feature. It is wonderfully grippy and nearly indestructible. Much nicer than cloth or leather.

All in all, I’m super excited about this car and cannot wait for my BRZ to arrive!

April 25, 2012 at 12:20 pm
(2) Ron says:

The fact that a light weight, RWD with a manual transmision car handles well and is fun to drive should not surprise anyone. The fact that this one is priced in the range of a V6 Mustang with 100 fewer ponies and much less style means that only the Anti-American crowd will buy it. If they can get the cost down a bit more they could have a solid value (and hit).

April 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm
(3) Gary from Atlanta says:

Ron I have been on the road for four weeks now and received 4 Mustangs as rental cars including this weeks 5.0 GT with 6 Speed Manaul (rental car folks must be fools to give me this). While these are good looking cars and pleasant to drive I feel like I am driving a “chunk” of car. I hit a bump the whole car seems to react poorly with a chunk. Shift hard – “Chunk”. You feel like you are along for the ride rather than controling it with the hammer down. The slightest road bump just destroys this cars handling. It shifts worst than a pick up truck. Again, it is not a bad car, but I would not spend my money on it. I find the sticker in the window reminding me that it was proudly built by the UAW as the lead detractor on a decent effort by Ford. Work out the suspension, shave some weight, fix the clutch and gear box, smooth out the ride a bit, and Ford will have something to really compete. The Toyota Sub already follows this model and should sell a ton. I just don’t like the looks. As sson as a few of the teen fast and furious folks puts some around a tree I will see if there is anyway to get that engine in my MR2 Spyder.

That said,

April 26, 2012 at 6:37 am
(4) Eric says:

I have to agree with Kyle in regard to where this car is marketed from. Only in the U.S. would a car company like Toyota inflict something like Scion on its comsumer base. In fact, the Japaneze companies seem to very fond of this, as Acuras are Hondas in every other market in the world save for ours. The Japaneze offer us dumbed-down versions of their parent company cars, the Europeans simply offer us half of what they build elsewhere.

Anyway, Scion was not the place for Toyobaru to market this car. The FR-S really should have been marketed as a Toyota. It might have added some spice to their dealer inventories. Of course, it may also have caused Toyota customers to drop dead from shock. Who knows?

It seems like a decent attempt at a real enthusiast car that the average Joe could actually afford, similar to the original Mustang. The FR-S interior even seems to harken to the 60′s. It almost has the same balance distribution that the BMW E30 3-series had. I guess I equate the Subaru version to the original Mercury Cougar; sort of a luxury Mustang, even though the Cougar’s styling at the time was completely different from the Ford.

In the end, this will probably be a pretty good seller if only due to the price point.

April 26, 2012 at 10:52 am
(5) Matt B. says:

agree with others. great car, wrong badge. Scion, in my mind, is a failure. the first crop of cars they released were sort of neat but the target demographic didn’t jump all over them like Toyota had hoped. the follow up models were more refined but bigger and uglier. time to shut it down and focus on bringing Toyota back from beige purgatory. i really dig this car but prefer the Subie variation.

April 26, 2012 at 7:02 pm
(6) lwatcdr says:

They had to name a Scion because it isn’t soft and slow enough to be a Lexus or Toyota.
Sorry but Toyota lost all creditability with me with their new Camry add where they have it blowing bike three sport bikes…. Really if the riders are at idel in 6th gear maybe.

April 30, 2012 at 12:36 am
(7) Hawaiian Don says:

Nice car, but I don’t see a real sports car with less than AT LEAST 250 ponies…more like 300. I would take a base Mustang V6 and tweak the suspension for a couple of grand at a speed shop and have the best of both worlds.

April 30, 2012 at 11:16 am
(8) J Kyle says:

Don, you can always add power to an engine.

You cannot (without extreme surgery) lop off many hundreds of pounds nor change the height and location of the center of gravity. If you’re talking about modifying a car, it makes far more sense to speed up a car engineered with light weight and a superlative chassis than try to put lipstick on a pig. (OK, the Mustang’s not that bad – but it’s a porker, like almost everything else out there.)

This car still has more hp than the non-supercharged Lotus Elise – are you suggesting that the Elise is not a real sports car?

A Mustang is most definitely not a sports car. Pony car, muscle car, whatever… not a sports car. The feel of a small, light sports car is unique – driving the BRZ felt more like my Lotus than my STI.

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