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2013 Scion FR-S: The All-New Affordable Sports Car

By Arv Voss, June 2nd, 2012

What happens when two automakers join forces to build powerful and affordable sports coupes? You get FR-S BRZ.

The 2013 Scion FR-S and 2013 Subaru BRZ are nearly identical in design and mechanical composition. The two sports coupes differ only in the front and rear fascia treatment, headlamp styling, and of course badging.

We'll deal here with the 2013 FR-S, the fifth model to join the Scion family, with power delivered to the rear-wheels through either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The engine is an FA2O 2.0-liter flat horizontally-opposed "boxer" four-cylinder with D4-S (direct and sequential port injection) that cranks out 200 horses at 7,000 rpm, while developing 151 lb.-ft. of torque in a range from 6,400-6,600 rpm. Premium fuel is required.

Pricing for the FR-S (which stands for Front-engine, Rear-wheel drive, Sport) starts at $24,200 when equipped with the six-speed manual gearbox, or $25,300 when fitted with the six-speed automatic transmission.

The FR-S is a true "scion" that draws upon heritage from a long history of Toyota performance cars and motorsports. The FR-S is designed around the core goal of achieving "pure balance," beginning with the strategic utilization of the world's only flat boxer engine in a front-engine, rear-wheel drive configuration. The engine's compact size and flat shape allow it to be mounted in a low, mid-ship position, resulting in a dynamically favorable front-to-rear weight ratio of 53:47, along with a low center of gravity that is comparable to many exotic supercars.

Despite its powerful 100-horsepower per liter, the FR-S yields an estimated EPA rating of 34 miles per gallon on the highway with the automatic transmission or 30 mpg with the manual gearbox. FR-S tips the scale at 2,758 pounds with the manual and 2,806 with the automatic. Weight is kept to a minimum by the implementation of an aluminum hood, a solid roof and by a trunk rather than a hatch design.

The low weight is complemented by dynamically tuned suspension componentry consisting of MacPherson struts forward and a double wishbone setup aft. Positive steering feel is provided by Electronic Power Steering and the FR-S rides on lightweight 17x7-inch alloy wheels. Ventilated disc brakes are standard at all four corners.

Experienced performance driving enthusiasts will appreciate the Vehicle Stability Control and Traction Control systems, which may be set in a combination of five configurations.

My test 2013 Scion FR-S sport coupe wore an exterior finish of Whiteout Pearlescent Metallic with a Charcoal and Black interior featuring red stitching. The base sticker read $23,405.

Acceleration is indeed impressive, as are the precise handling characteristics. The ride quality is comfortable, but not benign. To put this latest model Scion through its paces, I was afforded the opportunity to pilot the FR-S over both a challenging road course and timed autocross venue at the private Springhill Motorsports Park race facility located in Pahrump, Nev., just over 70 miles outside Las Vegas. Exercises included 3 individual laps on the autocross course, variously disabling traction and stability systems to get a proper feel for the car's capability under different driving scenarios. I personally achieved better times and results with all systems turned off.

In terms of its stunning exterior visual appeal, the FR-S reflects its inner power -- the aerodynamic profile was inspired by the iconic (and now extremely rare) Toyota 2000GT, with a low, sleek roofline that directs airflow cleanly and efficiently over the gracefully curved cabin. The stance is low and the face delivers a menacing look with sharp expressive lines and forms, such as the wide lower intake and angular headlight assembly that houses projector-beam headlamps.

The interior features 2+2 seating with deeply bolstered, supportive and comfortable seats up front, with a rear seatback that folds flat for added versatility and functionality. A large, center-mounted tachometer is the focal point of the three-gauge main cluster that also features a programmable shift indicator, allowing the driver to set rev limits in 100-rpm limits beginning at 2,000 rpm. Speed is measured by both digital and analog gauges.

The FR-S delivers fun in spades under normal driving conditions, or on a racecourse. Considering the starting price point and its performance credentials, the FR-S is clearly destined to become a winner. It serves up a most attractive and appealing design, with harmonious and well balanced lines and contours.

Specifications

Base price $23,405 (as tested: $24,135)
Curb weight 2,758 lbs.
Displacement 2.0-liter
Engine type 16-valve 4-cylinder boxer w/DSFI
Epa mileage rating 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 13.2 gal.
Horsepower (net) 200 at 7000 rpm
Overall length 166.7 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 151 at 6400 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual
Vehicle type 4-passenger RWD compact coupe
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