Coming down off of the Jaguar F-type review was going to be hard, but I was pleasantly surprised when a Scion FRS appeared in my driveway. It’s MSRP of just under $27k is very reasonable, and a simple, light, rear wheel drive sports car is never a bad thing. Was it everything I’d hoped for?
The interior is nicely finished, with a center mounted tachometer, grippy fabric seats, and a feel of quality that I didn’t expect at this price point. The bluetooth radio is simple and easy to use, and there are no steering wheel controls to get in the way of driving enjoyment. Though the FRS is billed as a 2+2, good luck getting full size people back there for any length of time. Think of it as a two seater with a generous trunk when the seats are folded down, or the ability to carry someone in a pinch.
The FRS and it’s Subaru BRZ sibling have 200hp and 151 lb/ft of torque, the latter at a lofty 6600rpm. The problem with the otherwise good 2 liter boxer is the pronounced torque dip at around 3500rpm- right where I tend to cruise in NA 4 cylinder cars. There isn’t too much low end torque available, so as long as you’re at higher RPMs the car is responsive, just avoid that dip. The engine sounds good, but doesn’t seem to love to rev when coupled with the automatic transmission. I think a manual would be far better suited for a car like this, but the automatic was still fun and shifted well when commanded to via steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
The suspension is quite good. Just stiff enough and always composed, definitely more sporting than not. It’s a little bit clinical with regards to body roll: it could use more movement for more fun. The steering is fairly communicative and direct, and especially good for electric power steering, and the steering ratio is very quick and responsive. The car is very enjoyable to toss around and drive aggressively and seems well set up for it.
The best and worst thing about this car are the tires. Prius tires to be exact. They allow this 200hp car to go sideways and get a bit silly at very slow speeds, which is a lot of fun. The balance of the car is always with you, and it’s rewarding and fun to push hard. The only negative thing is that those tires also work against the car. With their not-so-stiff sidewalls and ridiculously hard tread compound, they really limit the cars communication and overall ability. Think of them as training wheels, and when it rains get ready to have loads of fun. With a more aggressive tire this car would be on rails, put down far better numbers, and I bet all of its feedback would become sharper.
But isn’t the point of having a car fun? The Scion FRS eschews the all-too-common MORE POWER (and more weight) mentality we see so much today, and instead gives drivers a great introduction to what true sports cars are all about. Enjoying the drive.