2013 Scion FR-S

Toyota and Subaru sired the FR-S, but it ultimately made a name for itself.

Story: Alex Bernstein

There was a time when cars weren’t fat and oversaturated with tech packages and buttons galore—little lightweights, nimble on their tires, flaunting balance and affordability while utilizing the “low weight plus mediocre power equals fun” formula. Scion, regardless of their obvious lack of rear-wheel-drive sports car street cred, has finally introduced what is guaranteed to be the start of an automotive renaissance, where enthusiasts and budgets are kept in mind instead of tossed on the back burner.

The story of the FR-S is a bit complicated, with three companies—technically—and a push to re-create the rear-wheel-drive Toyota Corolla of the ’80s that is still one of drifting’s favorite weapons. Pretty much, the FR-S is the U.S. market Toyota GT 86, which is only available overseas; but another option here is the Subaru BRZ, which really only has a few extra options but is mechanically and aesthetically the same exact car. Subaru and Toyota paired up to create this vehicle, and while neither company is willing to give full credit to another, apparently Toyota had the idea and Subaru executed it, while Toyota contributed their direct fuel injection and sculpted the exterior, which looks damn good.

The FR-S is truly alive on a twisty back road; it drives as if it’s solely meant to be abused, and it takes it like a champ. A lot of this comes down to the Subaru boxer four-cylinder under the hood. Granted, 200hp isn’t an awful figure for a car tipping the scales at just 2,758 pounds, but it’s the delivery of this power that makes the FR-S a vehicle meant for momentum and not for out-of-the-hole performance. You can mash your right foot to the floor as hard as you want, but there is never a time the FR-S feels like it’s actually going somewhere. Luckily, the aftermarket for the FR-S will be plentiful, so squeezing some extra ponies out should be easy. The chassis, on the other hand, is bordering on perfection. Balanced, nimble and predictable, the FR-S just makes you smile—it’s extremely capable, and finding its limits is a great game to play.

Inside, where you’d expect materials to be on the lower-budget end of the spectrum, this Scion is actually a great place to spend your time. It’s far roomier than it looks like from the outside, the dash is laid out in an easy-to-read way, and if you opt for the BeSpoke Premium Audio System, you’ll have as much interfacing technology as a new Benz. alex bernstein


Damage: $24,930

Power: 200hp, 151 lb.-ft.

0-60: 6.2 secs.

Gas Cash: 22 city, 30 hwy

Miles Driven: 150

Interior: The seats are supportive and even comfortable on longer drives, which is rare for a car this size. And the speakers included with the BeSpoke system sound better than those in cars twice its price.

Exterior: There’s a history of Toyota’s greatest hits seen in the lines of the FR-S. From the Lexus LFA to the Toyota Supra, this Scion is aggressive while keeping the proportions of a Miata.

Floss Factor: It’ll get you more attention than any other Scion, and if you can get the rear tires to break loose, doughnuts are doable with one hand out the window.

Flaw Factor: The chassis just begs for more power.

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