2013 Scion FR-S Review: Road Test – Video

The affordable driver's car is back

2013 Scion FR-S Review: Road Test – Video

Back behind the wheel after our first drive several months back in Japan and we’re learning more about the Scion FR-S.

FAST FACTS

1. At 2,758 lbs the Scion FR-S weighs 604 lbs less than the lightest Hyundai Genesis Coupe.

2. Sold in a monospec form without any expensive option packages the FR-S costs $24,200 for the 6-speed manual and $25,300 for the automatic.

3. Scion will offer an aero kit for the car by Five:AD, making the FR-S look nearly identical to the concept version.

4. Other a la carte options include upgraded brakes, thicker sway bars, lowering springs and a TRD exhaust.

On the tight and technical Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch 1.5 mile loop it’s the faster corners that really emphasize just how light the car is. Having recently driven the 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe on the same course, the differences between these two comparable rear-drive sports cars becomes more obvious.

A LIGHTNESS YOU CAN FEEL

Weighing in at just 2,758 lbs the FR-S is a massive 604 lbs lighter than the Hyundai, something you really feel when sliding through the fast corner onto the front straight. With plenty of speed heading into the turn you expect the FR-S to track out to the limits of the wide front straight, but it doesn’t. With so little mass, it stays tucked in; an immediate sign that more corner entry speed is possible.

That small lesson is just one example of what the Scion FR-S is like to drive as a whole. It’s balanced and neutral, making for an excellent track training tool. With a short wheelbase and direct steering it lets you know just what is going on and puts you in control, helping you know exactly what to do the next lap to make it a better one.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

The low curb weight is also obvious on the many long decreasing radius corners. The FR-S willingly hangs on in those turns that feel like they’ll never end and isn’t demanding on the driver.

2013 Scion FR-S Firestorm track

As for the really tight corners, here is where you notice the ultra low center of gravity, which Scion says is lower than the Porsche Cayman. Despite a ride on the street that is as comfortable as any compact car, the FR-S is just so low that body roll is never much of an issue.

The low weight and lack of excessively high spring rates helps eliminate something we’ve experienced in numerous other cars on a tricky off-caber corner at Spring Mountain that also includes a quick drop in altitude. Often cars will compress through and skip out the other side as you track towards the outside, but the FR-S feels composed the whole way through with no unnerving bounce.

Helping keep that center of gravity low, even with the driver included, the seats of the Scion FR-S are positioned low in the car meaning that you’re butt is just 15 inches off the ground.

2013 Scion FR-S Firestorm Track Rear

AUTO-BOX CONTINUES TO SURPRISE

2013 Scion FR-S Track Right Side

Revisiting the FR-S, we even had a chance to spend more time on the track driving the automatic transmission, as even we have a hard time believing our own earlier impressions of just how good this auto box is. For all the credit that Subaru should be given for handling the majority of the engineering behind this car, Toyota deserves huge respect for un-slushing the slushbox.

In manual mode gear changes happen exactly when you ask for them, via paddles on the steering wheel, with an immediacy that we’ve only ever felt before on a dual clutch or sequential single clutch unit. Or, if you’re feeling lazy, just leave it in automatic and turn on the Sport mode and it will downshift for you with a blip on the throttle.

2013 Scion FR-S Parked

That small pop of sound is something we could use more of in the FR-S. It’s altogether too quiet a car, which is surprising considering how loud the Subaru-sourced boxer 4-cylinder engine can be. Watching a fleet of six multi-colored FR-S models blasting around the track, it’s the tires you hear the most.

Scion has installed a noise maker in the car, piping intake noise from the engine down near the passenger footwell. It does amplify the sound inside the cabin but we’d prefer to hear the note in a more natural way, blasting from the exhaust pipes.

MORE TORQUE THAN YOU EXPECT

2013 Scion FR-S Driving Head On

As for the powerplant, it’s the key to much of the clever packaging of the FR-S, with the Subaru-sourced flat-four boxer engine capable of sitting much lower down in the car, as well as much further back. Fitted with a Toyota direct injection system it makes a modest 200 hp at a high-revving 7000 rpm and 151 lb-ft of torque at 6600 rpm. That last number is a bit of an understatement, however, as almost all of that torque is readily available from just 2500 rpm.

Some will complain that the FR-S is underpowered. They, however, have missed the whole point of the car and in this light package just 200 hp is enough to challenge you.

Adding more power would also add more price and at just $24,200 to start, the FR-S has lived up to its billing as an affordable sports car.

2013 Scion FR-S Driving Rear

Using 215/45/17 summer tires, but not ultra high performance units, helps keep the cost down. Just swapping those out would likely make for an even better package, as it wouldn’t hurt the FR-S to have a more aggressive turn-in. Still, it’s doesn’t need that, or the many accessories Scion will be offering, including everything from larger sway bars, to upgraded brakes, an exhaust system and even simple things like higher-friction brake pads.

To help make the FR-S a versatile package and one that’s up to the wants and needs of drivers of varied skill levels, there is both traction control and stability control, both of which can be shut off. With a capable limited slip differential, an optional sport mode will significantly reduce the interference of stability control and is a smart option for the street; however, drivers with some track experience won’t find it difficult to reach the boundaries of the system and then opt to shut off all the electronics.

STILL TRUE TO THE TOYOTA BRAND

Off the track and on the street, something we didn’t get a chance to do during our initial test back in December, this amazing sports car is easy to live with in a way no other sports car but a Porsche is. It’s comfortable, smooth riding and quiet. Plus, even with those sizable side bolsters on the seat, you’re not squeezed.

Even the 6-speed manual transmission, nicely weighted and with short throws for the track, isn’t so heavy, short or notchy that you feel like you’re always involved in some sort of a race.

2013 Scion FR-S Street

And the tight and responsive steering isn’t excessively heavy.

Unlike most sports cars, stopping at the pump won’t be a frequent event either, thanks to fuel economy that’s 22/30 mpg for the 6-speed manual transmission and 25/34 for the automatic.

COST CUTTING OBVIOUS IN SOME AREAS

2013 Scion FR-S Interior Dash

One of the few places the FR-S is open to criticism is the dash, with HVAC dials that look borrowed directly from a car that’s already been on the road for a decade. The faux carbon fiber on the dash isn’t the car’s best feature either. Worst of all is the stereo face, which looks so low grade it’s insulting.

The unit does make 300 watts of power and uses eight speakers, though those who prefer can opt for the upgraded BeSpoke audio system with a 5.8-inch LCD screen and numerous apps that let you do everything from check your Facebook wall to view and send Tweets.

2013 Scion FR-S BeSpoke

As for other standard equipment, the list includes keyless entry, Bluetooth, USB and iPod hookups. Even the FR-S branded floor mats are standard, which might not sound like much, but it’s much better than being asked to pay for them after. Sold in what Scion calls “monospec” there are no pricey option packs meaning that unlike other cars on the market, the base price is the price. And to make it even more attractive, Scion will throw in two years of free maintenance.

Scion does, of course, offer plenty of a la carte accessories, including a complete body kit by Five:AD, which will make your FR-S look just like the much more dramatic concept car.

THE VERDICT

As much as we’d like to spend the extra to get the more aggressive kit, the most special part about the FR-S is that you don’t have to add anything to the base price to have what is easily the single best performance bargain on the market.

It is, in every way, exactly what it was promised to be, making it not just an affordable driver’s car, but the affordable driver’s car.

2013 Scion FR-S Driving Rear

Related Reading
2013 Scion FR-S First Drive
2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe Review – Video
2012 MINI Coupe Review – Video
2012 Honda Civic Si vs MazdaSpeed3 – Video
2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata Review
2010 Volkswagen GTI Review

  • Aaron_thatsme

    i cant wait to see this car out on the road

  • Troy

    Hey Colum, nice review.  Like the car in the background on the summary portion….but ghetto radio?  😉

  • Kramerjp

    It seems to me that this engine would be extremely easy to work on.  Am I correct?  The oil filter being right on top, like that, so something every car engine should have.  So it surprises me that the warranty seems so little.  Is it because Scion expects this car to be abused?

  • T. Bang

     Toyota doesn’t offer warranties like Kia, Hyundai, etc. and it doesn’t seem to matter. Toyotas last forever, so its almost a moot point.

  • Thill

    I really enjoyed this review as well as your review of the 2013 Genesis Coupe. I have to say it. The interior, for me, is very disappointing. Not asking for the world here, but for a $25k car they could have done better. That radio looks like an aftermarket hack job. I also hate that there are no audio controls on the steering wheel, and I assume no Bluetooth for phone calls since there are no steering controls? I know this sounds petty, but those are huge deals to me since this car would be a daily driver and not just a weekend car I drive for fun.

    That said, I cannot wait to test drive one. The power seems lacking on paper, but you don’t seem concerned about it in your review.

  • Jason Ewens

    Drove one this morning. The radio has bluetooth hands free, but the controls are on the radio.  Nice bright green button to answer a call though. I too noticed the missing steering wheel controls like on the XB. 

    There is soon to be an optional Bespoke? radio for $850, but the NAV functions rely on an iPhone 4S for the maps and directions. Being an Android guy I had to pass.

    I’ll be looking for an after market HU.

  • http://www.gplay.com/ video game rentals

    Lets you know just what is going on and puts you in control!

  • Mrjhee

    beware, floor mats are EXTRA CHARGE if you are un-fortunate  enough to live in the south east   [ Fl ,GA, AL, NC,SC………most S E Toyota/Scion dealers are charging for the floor mats, and I saw a $230 charge for the “special” white color,,, “white out”,,, on the sticker at Mall of GA on 5/11/12—even though it is a stock/standard color… Jim Moran  Family strikes again !!!!!

  • Bruce

    Love the review. Great job Autoguide.com

  • Mark

    I drove this one (fair warning, i am a toyota dealership employee) and it was a BLAST. The lack of weight combined with a super low center of gravity means this car is a ton of fun on the track and the road. It corners on a set of rails, and the auto gearbox has it where it counts.  The interior is a bit on the dissapointing side, particularly in the audio department, but honestly this is a drivers car, not a car someone uses to get from point a to point b as poshly as possible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bruce-Miller/100000952005408 Bruce Miller

    Pony  Car revival? Shades of the Mustangs sold with 6 cylinder engines? Somewhat akin to the 240 –  Z cars with 6 cylinder engines? Little touch of Porsche with the boxer, Miata – like? Shades of the older MGB with a gutsy growl? Early Austin Martin feel? Friend to the Triumphs? Affordable. and fuel conscious too. I like it.

  • Mufradjamil

    II came here to watch the track review. Could not find :(

  • danill_97

    Already plan on trading in my 06′ BMW i325 for this. :) Can’t wait!

  • Graham

    Nice review man!

« Back
SWEEPSTAKES – OFFICIAL RULES, TERMS AND CONDITIONS

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.

1. NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS SWEEPSTAKES. AGE/RESIDENCY RESTRICTIONS, VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked