2013 Scion FR-S Review – New Coupe Celebrates the Joy of Driving

By Steve & Tamami Laser

The Scion FR-S is an amazing new car for several reasons. First, it’s incredibly fun to drive. Second, the styling knocks our socks off. Third, it’s rear-wheel drive. And fourth, it carries an attractive price tag.


Why does Scion need a second coupe? The front-drive tC remains a very popular choice. And why is the FR-S a Scion instead of a Toyota? It’s sold in the rest of the world as the Toyota 86 (or GT86 in Europe). To answer these questions, let’s go back in time.

Not that long ago, Toyota built sporty cars like the Celica, Supra and MR-2. We’re not really sure why, but they all vanished. The auto maker focused instead on high-volume cars like the Camry plus a bunch of SUVs.


Fast forward to 2009 when Akio Toyoda (the grandson of the company’s founder) became president of Toyota. As the story goes, he wanted to add more passion to the lineup. And so a deal was reached with Subaru to co-develop an all-new sporty car.

Toyota owns a portion of Subaru, so the new car is sold by both brands. (Subaru calls its version BRZ.) And it’s a Scion in the U.S. due to the youthful image of this Toyota channel.

The FR-S was designed with the goal of achieving “pure balance.” Subaru’s boxer 4-cylinder engine gives both cars a low center of gravity and a 53:47 front-to-rear weight ratio.


The 2.0-liter flat four engine puts out 200 horsepower and 151 ft-lbs of torque. Power is transmitted to the rear wheels via a 6-speed manual gearbox or 6-speed automatic with Dynamic Rev Matching technology and steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters.

We decided to test the FR-S with the automatic since the majority of buyers will likely go this route. The first thing that caught our eyes was our test car’s color. It’s called “Hot Lava” which is like burnt orange.

We walked around the car to admire the sporty styling. The profile is inspired by Toyota’s first sports car called the 2000GT. The car sits low to the ground and the front fenders have bulges like its grandfather.


We took our places in the deeply bolstered bucket seats and headed home via some fun, twisty roads. The FR-S handles remarkably well in the turns. The suspension is stiff, the steering is direct and the exhaust note is perfect.

This is a serious driver’s car with no hint of understeer. And it’s incredibly addictive. During our week-long test drive we lapped the Palos Verdes Peninsula four times in search of the twistiest hairpin roads we could find.

Those who relish this type of driving will be overjoyed with the FR-S. Others who buy sporty cars to take to the drag strip may not. This isn’t a competitor to cars like the V8-powered Mustang or Camaro.


Scion equips the FR-S with lightweight 17-inch alloy wheels, ventilated disc brakes all around, front strut and rear double wishbone suspension, and a Torsen limited-slip differential.

To help reduce weight, the FR-S has an aluminum hood, a solid roof (no sunroof) and a traditional trunk instead of a heavy hatchback. Seating capacity is limited to four and the trunk offers a tiny 6.9 cubic feet of cargo capacity. The rear seat folds flat to add room for transporting longer items.


The cockpit is fitted with a small diameter steering wheel, a three-gauge instrument cluster with center-mounted tachometer, and a flat-horizon dash-top with raised center rib to help drivers locate the center of the car in turns. (photo: Scion)

Standard audio is a Pioneer system with 300-watts of power and eight speakers. HD Radio and Bluetooth are included along with Scion’s new BeSpoke multimedia. When connected to an iPhone, it can link to Internet radio, Facebook, Twitter and the like.

Our 2013 Scion FR-S test car carried a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $25,300 plus destination for a bottom line of $26,097. With affordable prices like this, Scion should have no trouble finding lots of takers for its new sporty coupe.

To celebrate Scion’s 10th anniversary, a special 10 Series FR-S is on the way. Exclusive features include Ignition Silver paint, HID headlights with LED running lights, auto climate control and a smart key with push-button start.

Scion press fleet vehicle provided by Scion Division of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Additional photos (as noted) courtesy of Scion

Story and photos (except as noted) © 2013 CarNichiWa.com