2014 Scion FR-S
Not every cheap, exciting sports car needs to be a used one.No Comments
I stand firm by the belief that the rear seats are some sort of poorly-translated Japanese joke about Americans being the size of small planets.
2014 marks the second model year for the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ twins. Both cars are essentially the same, although Scion's cheaper FR-S is a bit rawer than the more expensive (and better-equipped) BRZ, which is aiming more for a mini-grand-tourer feel.
The BRZ comes with quasi-luxurious appointments, like high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights with LED eyebrows, heated leather seats, and automatic climate control. The FR-S, on the other hand, focuses on the performance aspects of the car; there's no liner in the trunk, the seats are cloth, and the suspension is tuned more aggressively (read: with more oversteer).
This year, the FR-S does gain a little bit of refinement, albeit not much. There are now cushioned knee pads on the doors and the transmission tunnel, and Toyota's touchscreen audio system becomes standard — although you still need to pony up dough to access the navigation and premium audio options. Speaking of options, there aren't many; besides the aforementioned infotainment upgrades, you can opt for fog lights, a rear spoiler, a center armrest, and Toyota Racing Development (TRD) intake and exhaust modifications.
The FR-S is the most expensive offering from Scion, Toyota's sub-brand aimed at the hip, younger demographic. In its short existence, it's grabbed that demo by the throat, getting people excited about a brand that is otherwise known for building reliable toasters on wheels. It didn't come over here as a Corolla Coupe, but it reminded everybody that Toyota is capable of building some extremely fun cars from time to time — even if it did split development costs with Subaru.
I stand firm by the belief that the rear seats are some sort of poorly-translated Japanese joke about Americans being the size of small planets. A child seat barely fits, and unless the front passenger wants to hone his or her contortion act, good luck finding anywhere to put your feet back there.
That sense of immediacy is present in more than just the transmission; in fact, it's present pretty much everywhere. Body roll and excessive shock travel are practically nil, while steering response is near-predictive. Throttle response is equally fast, with the naturally-aspirated flat-four content to get going at any RPM, and with power delivery ramping up as the car noisily approaches redline. Provided with enough steering angle, the FR-S is capable of power oversteer at surprisingly low RPMs.
With the optional TRD exhaust system, our tester left me sitting at red lights making race-car noises like a five-year-old.
Despite what many are saying, 200 horsepower is ample for this car; any more, and it would overload the chassis without suspension upgrades and other costly add-ons. At that point, it's probably closer to a $40,000 car, throwing it out of reach for the very demographic that it's trying to pull in. It's the most fun you can have at this price without buying a used car.
Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic
Power Output: 200 hp / 151 lb-ft
Fuel Economy: 22 city / 30 highway
Base Price: $24,700
As Tested: $27,534 (incl. $755 destination)
Optional Features: BeSpoke premium audio and navigation, TRD exhaust system, TRD air intake, fog lights, rear spoiler, center armrest