Battle of the well balanced rear-wheel drivers
We are back with this week’s installment of AutoGuide’s newest, interactive weekly feature ‘Commute, Toy or Destroy’.
Once again, we present to you, our faithful readers, a choice of three vehicles. We are asking you to decide which one you would make your daily driver, which one would be your back-road bomber and which one should be drifted off the side of Mulholland Drive.
Remember, that commuter car you must live with every day, all year round. The toy would be only available to you for occasional use on weekends club meets, and the final car would be the one you would laugh at as you pass it on the street.
This week we select three vehicles that value chassis balance and driver engagement over all out speed. First, there is the last of the Rotaries, the Mazda RX-8. This car featured perfect balance and a lunatic redline. Next, there is the only convertible and only two-seater in this grouping, the S2000. This roadster was basically a race car in street clothing. Finally there is the newer, slower, but far cheaper Scion FR-S that reinvents driving fun on a budget. So what are your choices going to be?
The S2000 was a spiritual successor to the Honda S series roadsters of the 1960s. Initially offered here with a high-revving 2.0 L engine, in 2004 a 2.2 L engine with more torque was swapped into the roadster and the redline was slightly reduced. These engines made an impressive 237-240 hp (at the time the most output per liter of any naturally aspirated car), but it was the handling that truly made the S2000 great. Plus, on a warm sunny day you could but the top down and listen to that four-cylinder scream.
Mazda’s last attempt at a rotary sports car (for now at least) was the four seat, 2+2 door RX-8. Larger and heavier than the Honda S2000, the RX-8 made a near identical 238 hp with a 9000 rpm redline, from a very different power source. The car was perfectly balanced and added a little bit of practicality and comfort over the track-ready S2000. Small adults could actually fit in the rear seat as well.
Just when you thought the days of affordable, well balanced rear-wheel drive sports cars were gone, Subaru and Toyota bring out this gem. More fun than should be allowed at legal speed limits, the FR-S harkens back to the days of raw, smile-inducing motoring. Powered by a 2.0 L four-cylinder producing 200 hp, the FR-S makes just enough power to have fun, but not get you in a heap of trouble. That said, we are always open for a boosted version down the road.