2013 Scion FR-S: First Impressions

If you’re at all interested in the Scion FR-S/Toyota GT 86/Subaru BRZ then you’ve probably already read several reviews of some version of the car. Scion arranged for AutoGuide and a dozen other outlets to spend some solid time behind the wheel at Sodegaura Forest Raceway just an hour outside Tokyo, Japan. It wasn’t just a few minutes or the use of a handling course; those in attendance got plenty of seat time to get a proper feel of the brand’s new flagship machine.

Along with one properly spec’ed-out Scion FR-S, there was a Euro-spec version (the very car used for testing on the Nurburgring), as well as two right-hand drive models – one a manual transmission, the other an automatic.

Scheduled out into several lapping sessions we spent our first two track outings of the day getting accustomed to the course, and to driving a right hand drive machine. One thing that surprised us, and it’s something no enthusiast is going to care about, is just how good the 6-speed automatic is. Using proper steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, just a flick and it’ll gear up or down, with a speed unlike almost any auto-box we’ve ever tested.

Then, we finally had our chance in a left-hand drive model. Until this point the massively hyped Toyota had impressed us, but hadn’t really wowed us. This we soon discovered was a direct result of not being as comfortable in a right-hand drive machine.

Sliding into the actual Scion car, with the steering wheel now on the left side, familiarity quickly gave way to a feeling of driving bliss. No longer were the car’s much-touted handling dynamics in question. The Scion FR-S is pure and balanced, responding to inputs immediately, but smoothly. It is not, however, a raw driving experience, retaining a daily driving characteristic that Toyotas are famous for.

Want more on the Scion FR-S? Watch for AutoGuide’s thorough review to drop tomorrow here.

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