The Toyota Motor Company has a long history of producing sports and GT cars, so when the company decided to add a compact sports coupe to its Scion catalogue enthusiast drivers got excited.
In an effort to add some spark to the mix Toyota initiated the Toyota 86 program with Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru). This intriguing partnership lead to the production of two new compact sports coupes aimed directly at the North American market- the Scion FR-S and the Subaru BRZ. The two cars share a platform and the majority of mechanical bits, so performance is on par. Subtle styling cues inside and out, and slight differences in standard equipment is what sets them apart.
The Scion FR-S takes its moniker from a description of its platform- Front-engine, Rear-wheel-drive, Sport. Launched for 2013, the FR-S features a naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine fitted with both direct and port fuel injection. This compact power plant was designed by Subaru, so it should come as no surprise that it is a horizontally opposed, boxer design.
Power: 200-hp 2.0L engine
The 2.0-litre D-4S engine idles a little rough and emits a rather odd exhaust note, but it produces 200-horsepower and 151 lb.-ft. of torque and redlines at a very healthy 7,400rpm.
Sprints from a standing start to 100 kilometres-per-hour can be executed in 7.3-seconds. While not exceptionally quick, the clamber of the mechanical fury taking place under the long hood creates an atmosphere that makes it feel like you are travelling much faster.
The Scion FR-S comes equipped with a six-speed, short throw, manual transmission as standard equipment, but a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters and Dynamic Rev Management is available as an option ($1,180).
Performance cars are only as good as their braking systems, so the engineers at Scion have mounted oversized, ventilated, disc brakes in all four corners to help keep enthusiasm in check.
Scion on the road: Handling Impressions
Handling is this car’s strongpoint. The rear-wheel-drive layout and lightweight (1,251 kilograms) hearken back to the legendary sports cars of the past, and helps deliver a very entertaining driving experience. The electric power steering feels precise and true, but with a little extra effort you can initiate enough tail wag to drift through tight radius turns. Surprisingly, body roll is minimal, largely due to the car’s low centre of gravity.
The driver’s seat offers enough side bolster to hold your torso in place during aggressive driving manoeuvres, but taller individuals will find themselves having to dial in a little recline to enhance outward vision and keep their head from making contact with the ceiling. The rear seating area is best reserved for groceries and gym bags.
The suspension on the FR-S is a MacPherson Strut setup up front, and a double wishbone type in the rear. This combination is quite firm, but the overall ride was pleasant. Enthusiast drivers will find that the FR-S communicates its intentions through the seat-of-your-pants, much like in a dedicated track car. This is especially the case when you operate in the car’s stability control system in track mode.
Performance cars are only as good as their braking systems, so the engineers at Scion have mounted oversized, ventilated, disc brakes in all four corners to help keep enthusiasm in check. Stops from triple digit speeds were short and drama free, as overall handling was predictable and the brakes remained fade-free.
Toyota has decided to keep things simple, as that is the Scion way, so there are few options available. Popular choices will include a rear spoiler, fog lights, and a Bongiovi Acoustics DPS digital audio system. My choice would be the TRD exhaust system, which I assume will give the FR-S the throaty growl that is currently missing.
At $26,450, the Scion FR-S is one of the most affordable performance automobiles in Canada.
2014 Scion FR-S Technical Specifications
Type: Rear-wheel-drive, front-engine, compact, 2+2 sports coupe
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, horizontally opposed, flat-4, Boxer engine
Horsepower: 200 hp @ 7,000 rpm
Torque: 151 lb.-ft. @ 6,600 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Brakes: Four-wheel ventilated discs with ABS
Fuel economy (L/100km): City 9.5 L (30 mpg); Hwy 6.5 L (43 mpg)