It's sad that we live in a world where a 200-hp, rear-wheel-drive sports car is panned by Internet commenters as "slow" and "lame." Of course, those people haven't driven the Scion FR-S. Anyone who does will quickly realize the car is huge fun to drive. The Scion FR-S managed to put a huge grin on my face within an hour of getting the keys. It's plenty fast, and sounds incredible thanks to the intake resonator sending a vocal growl to the cabin. The six-speed manual is a great partner for hasty upshifts or aggressive down-changes. The snug bucket seats keep you from sliding around when cornering quickly. The steering is quick enough that you can keep your hands in place around most turns. I didn't want to stop driving the FR-S, and was really unhappy when I had to turn in the keys.
I spent an inordinate amount of time examining the Scion's engine bay and interior parts. It's clear the car was designed for easy maintenance. There's a Scion-branded screwdriver included in the trunk, screws to remove interior panels are easily visible, and almost every engine component or sensor can easily be identified and reached from above. I have a feeling it will be supremely easy to maintain and modify the FR-S, a boon for enthusiasts buying out-of-warranty models. The lone exception, owing to the boxer engine design, is changing the spark plugs. It appears that doing so requires unbolting the engine mounts to gain adequate access.
Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor
On paper, the FR-S makes an excellent case for itself: It's a lightweight, compact, rear-wheel-drive sports car with 200 horsepower and a starting price of $24,200. Specs don't tell the whole story though so I was eager to drive the new Scion.
Even before I turned the key, I was taken by the FR-S's chiseled, purposeful shape. To me, it looks like the love child of a Ferrari 458 Italia and a Nissan 370Z -- not bad company for a mid-$20,000 sports car -- and because the exterior is totally devoid of chrome or other fussy ornamentation the sleek lines take center stage. The simple, thin-spoked wheels are also really nice and perfectly complement the svelte sheetmetal.
The interior is a little more reflective of the FR-S's low price but the bean counters certainly weren't given carte blanche. While cheap-looking plastics are not difficult to find, stylish touches like contrast stitching on the seats, doors, steering wheel, and shifter, as well as sports-car gear like aluminum pedals and grippy, perforated leather on the steering wheel -- all of which come standard -- help give the cabin a sporty but polished look.
Once I slid behind the wheel, it was quickly obvious to me that the FR-S is a legitimate sports car. The 2.0-liter flat four produces a nice muted growl and provides plenty of grunt. I wouldn't exactly call the FR-S fast but because the driving experience is largely unfiltered it feels faster than it is. Every driver interface has a pleasing mechanical feel that requires a firm deliberate action to use but without being so heavy that the car comes off feeling crude.
The FRS also rides quite well for such a low-slung car that wears low-profile rubber; there's only minimal harshness over even big obstacles like railroad tracks. I didn't push it hard enough to really test its handling capabilities but the excellent chassis balance and roadholding capabilities are apparent even in everyday driving.
Although I haven't driven it on a track, my time with the FRS on the street leads me to believe that it will be a popular car with the "race on Sunday, drive to work on Monday" crowd. And because it starts at such a relatively reasonable $24,000, it's attainable, even to those on a fairly limited budget.
Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms