by Frank S. Washington
LAS VEGAS – We came here to test drive the 2013 Scion FR-S. You’ve never heard of it because it just went on sale June 1st.
In a nutshell, the Scion FR-S is now the flagship of the rapidly expanding Scion brand. Earlier this year, Toyota added the Scion iQ to its youth brand. That subcompact car joined the Scion tC, Scion xB and Scion xD.
The 2013 Scion FR-S is a compact old school 2+2 rear-wheel-drive sports car. Sports cars of old didn’t depend on the brute force of horsepower. They were small, light and had great horsepower to weight ratios. And they didn’t cost an arm and a leg either.
Scion’s FR-S was powered by a boxer four cylinder engine that was co-developed with Subaru which will also produce a version of this car. The 2.0-liter engine produced 200 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque.
That’s a respectable number of ponies but the oomph comes in because the Scion FR-S weighs just 2,758 lbs. when equipped with a six-speed manual transmission. It weighs 2,806 lbs., when equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The point is that the FR-S engine produces 100 horsepower per liter. That’s an exceptional power to weight ratio for the car’s engine with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic.
Lean and low, the FR-S had a long snout, short rump and the car had a trunk versus a hatchback. The hood was low with mounds over each corner for the front wheels. The grille was wide, the car sat low and the headlights wrapped around into the fenders.
The 2013 Scion FR-S looked good.
We drove the six-speed manual to the Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club which was about 65 miles west of here. We had been told that the car was low to the ground; the seating position was about 15-inches high. That translated into a bit of effort to get in and out of the vehicle. But it also gave the car an excellent drag coefficient of .27.
A lot of work was done on the engine exhaust note to give the FR-S an authoritative sound. Still, the car ran quiet under normal acceleration. Short throw gear shifts were precise and the seats were comfortable. Although the car handled the race track as well as the road rally course capably, on the long straight-aways of U.S.160 it wandered off track a bit and steering corrections were necessary.
I also thought the car could have had more low-end torque. The 151 pound-feet kicked in from 6,400 to 6,600 RPMs. That’ pretty high. But I expect the FR-S’ torque to increase and the RPM level of full utilization to be lowered in subsequent engine refinements.
The manual got 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway and the numbers were 25/34 in city and highway driving for the automatic. The FR-S also featured an engine with direct fuel injection combined with port injectors. Called the D-4S system, it allowed precise fuel distribution and increased power while enhancing fuel efficiency.
And a new audio system debuted on the FR-S and it will make its way across Scion’s product line. The system had a 300-watt amplifier, HD radio, USB connectivity, auxiliary jacks, satellite radio, and MP3, WMA and AAC capability.
But the true innovation comes in the form of Scion’s FR-S BeSpoke system. It is an app based multi-media system that lets users connect to their Twitter and Facebook accounts. It’s a voice recognition system that features routing, internet radio stations and enables point-to-point connections with Facebook and Twitter friends who download the app.
And the best part of the all-new 2013 Scion FR-S is the sticker: $24, 930 is the base price for the manual and $26,030 for the automatic. Fun driving at a reasonable price is definitely old school aimed at young drivers.