See what the Revscene chief, !SG, thought of the new Scion FR-S Edition in this review. Does it make the grade or fall short? Find out his impressions of the North American version of the new Hatchi-Roku here.
When Steve sent me an email asking if I was interested in taking the new Scion FR-S out for a spin, I originally thought, naaa, but when he said id be able to have it for a week, I changed my mind. I, like all other Toyota owners, have heard of the FT-86. A joint venture between Toyota and Subaru, hoping that the best of both car makers will produce a love child everyone would fall in love with. I agreed, and booked it for my birthday weekend.
Now im no expert, but I have had a few Toyotas in the family. I tried to be as non bias as possible, going from the highlanders 1me v6, gs300’s, 2jz inline 6, and now my gs430 3uz. I have to admit, ive been spoiled with the 430 and its ample torque and horsepower.
I picked her up from the Toyota Warehouse. First impressions… its low, its wide, and its short, but it sure does look good! I unlocked the doors, hopped right in, and my first impressions of the interior… THESE ARE STOCK SEATS?! These seats are generally what us “tuners” would swap in. Comfortable, supportive, and low, something you would find from a set of recaro sport buckets. Side boasters are high enough to give a snug fit, while the shoulder sides are snug enough to stop any side to side movement. Now one thing others wont notice as much is the angle of the head rest, its meant to be forward facing to give as much support to the back of the head in case of whiplash. I figure I would sit in the car for a few minutes, adjust the mirrors, run thru the gears, just to get use to her. Gearing did I say? The throws are short, and close together, but far enough that anyone that has driven manual before will know exactly which gear is where. The foot pedals could be a little closer, but I wouldn’t complain, I was wearing my dress shoes. Stereo by Pioneer? Well, its probably gonna be better than the stock unit I have in the highlander. I did find the side rocker panel to be a tad high, but still low enough that you aren’t trying to roll out of the car, for example, the lotus elise whom I had to do a stop tuck and roll just to get out of.
Driving impressions, the clutch is light but very forgiving. Gearing is very short, the first 4 gears are your acceleration gears, while 5th and 6th are used for cruising, this car was meant to be driven for fun. I can foresee this car will get a lot of ppl in trouble. Making the first corner, accelerating just to merge into traffic gave me the greatest smile from a new car in a long long time. The car is impeccably balanced. Most manufactuers will sell it and state it, but few can truly match it. The predictability of how the car feels means while in a turn, you can feel, and predict weather the car will “plow” or “kick out”. Just by adjusting how much you apply the brakes or apply the throttle on this FR-S will allow you to make the judgement call. Part of this is the suspension set up. Having been a track day and autoX participant for years, means I like my cars stiff. This FR-S comes with a suspension that may surprise most. I can guess already just exiting the parking lot that Toyota decided with a stiffer than normal dampening struts, with some regular sporty springs. This setup will give you that nimble but solid ride feel, while still retaining some comfort with everyday city driving. Brakes are better than par, for a light car, these will do more than nicely. Engine is a bit loud for stock? Not droning, but enough that you’d know you are not driving a luxury vehicle. Most ppl pay extra for this! I will be honest, I was expecting to hear the gurgle of a Subaru boxster motor, but surprised to find there was little to none. This little engine is rev happy, happy to soar up the numbers. I will admit, it could use a bit more power, but this is completely bias. Going from a modified 300hp/325ft lbs v8 to a boxer 4 cylinder and comparing the two is absolutely unfair, but it can use a bit more torque, im pretty sure the geniuses at Toyota and Subaru have something in mind for the next few years. Power is very linear. With a lot of sports cars, you expect a bit of a surge after 5000 rpm, but this FR-S… u wont get it. you will wait for it, but in the end, your just gonna have to shift gears. Gearbox is knotchy…. I LIKE IT!! Too many manufactures push for easy shifting, no feed back, too soft gear boxes. this reminds me of the 80s. where it was more function than anything. I wish they had the option for the old ribbed rubber shifter boot though. I can reminisce. The car feels light. You can have a car with lots of power, but if its heavy, it still feels heavy. This car has a lot more power than the AE, but feels light but very rigid. The AE was a great car to drive, but lets admit, it felt like it was twisting at every turn.
Design. I’ll admit, i mistaken this car as as bmw z4 from the back. styling cues are similar, but once in sight, and from the front, u can see that some of the styling cues did come from the LFA and i will admit, from the celica. Nice lines, wheel arches, large front air dam design, it works. The stock wheels are meh, they come with 215/45/17 michelin primacy’s, just everyday tires. One disappointment is that the wheels are 5×100, so with that being said, aftermarket wheel selection and offset will be limited. Inside, air vents from toyota, climate control knobs from subaru, and a gear box location from both (subaru feel, gear location like the is250), is easy to adopt. Wasn’t a big fan of the dash though, too hard plastic. The steering wheel made up for it though, a nice thick, but small diameter steering wheel!
As you can guess, being a tuner, i look for items that the normal consumer wont be looking at. I think toyota and subaru have a winning combination. A few cars come along once in a while that bring back that thrill of the import tuner, and give some goals for manufacturers to build towards. We saw this when the EG civic came out, which can be said, started the “ricer” evolution in north america. I think the target market, the price point, bang for buck, and overal starting package is a winning combination.
And just for fun: