The 2013 Scion FR-S, with its affordable $24,000 base price packed with value, is a true rear-wheel drive sports machine, not some vague imitation with front-wheel drive pretending to be a sports coupe.
I test drove the Subaru BRZ and walked away thoroughly impressed. If the FR-S is anything close to performing like its Japanese cousin, we can look forward to seeing a lot them being picked up by the enthusiast crowd.
Just the Numbers
The FR-S is powered by a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder boxer engine that can crank out 200 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 151 lb.-ft. of torque at 6,400-6,600 rpm. The engine is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic, with paddle shifters and Dynamic Rev Management technology, for an additional $900. EPA fuel economy ratings with the manual gearbox is 22 city/30 highway/25 combined mpg. Interestingly, the automatic transmission, which has some taller gears and the same final drive ratio as the manual, gets 25 city/34 highway/28 combined mpg according to EPA estimates.
Lightweight and nimble handling are FR-S cornerstones. This is accomplished with a favorable front-to-rear weight ratio of 53:47 and a low center of gravity. Agile maneuverability and inspired handling are achieved with a tuned suspension setup consisting of MacPherson struts up front and a double wishbone system in the rear. Lightweight 17×7 inch alloy wheels wrapped with 215/45R17 summer tires and 11-inch ventilated disc brakes are standard on all four corners.
Further weight savings are accomplished with an aluminum hood, solid roof, and a real trunk instead of a hatchback design. The FR-S coupe weighs an impressive 2,758 pounds with the manual gearbox and 2,806 pounds when equipped with the automatic.
Looks Are More Than Skin Deep
Toyota has a rich history of performance cars and it didn't have to look far for inspiration. The sleek, low hood and roofline adopts its profile from the 2000GT. The aggressive front fenders boast the iconic '86' piston emblem, which highlights the car's AE86 heritage and core values.
The rear fascia sits low and wide, with aerodynamic lower treatments that surround the sporty dual exhaust system. LEDs illuminate the taillights and a center-mounted backup light finishes the muscular design.
The FR-S interior is a 2+2 seating configuration with a back seat about as useful as the backseat in an RX-8 — suitable for humans with very short legs or a couple bags of groceries. Of the three-gauge cluster, the large center-mounted tachometer dominates your attention and features a programmable shift indicator that lights up when redline is reached. The driver can set the warning to go off in 100 rpm increments starting at 2,000 rpm. Speed is displayed by both digital and analog gauges.
Connecting the driver to the dynamic machine is a performance oriented, 365mm diameter, leather-trimmed steering wheel with tilt and telescopic adjustments.
The 2013 FR-S comes standard with six airbags, including dual-stage advanced driver and front passenger airbags. Electronic controls that comprise of Toyota's Star Safety System include Traction Control (TRAC), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Brake Assist (BA), an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), and Smart Stop Technology (SST).
Performance does not take a back seat to safety concerns. Experienced drivers with high performance driving skills can set the VSC and TRAC in one of five configurations to suit their needs.
Who can argue with a car that can deliver performance and value? Scion dealers have a "no-haggle, no-hassle Pure Price" policy. Let us know if they apply a dealer markup to the sticker price. Below are the standard features included in the 2013 Scion FR-S and a list of additional accessories if you want to upgrade using factory equipment.
STANDARD EXTERIOR FEATURES
- 17-inch alloy wheels, 215/45R17 Michelin Primacy HP summer tires
- Roof-mounted antenna
- Keyless entry for doors and trunk
- Color-keyed power outside mirrors
- Variable Intermittent front wiper
- Chrome-tipped dual exhaust
- Projector beam halogen headlamps with auto-cut
- Daytime running lights
- LED taillights and center mounted stop lamp
STANDARD INTERIOR FEATURES
- Air conditioning
- 6-way driver seat and 4-way front-passenger seat with integrated headrests
- 4-piece carpeted floor mat set
- Digital clock: multi-info display
- Power door locks and outside mirrors
- Power windows with one-touch up and down
- Rear window defogger
- One-piece folding rear seatback
- Center-mounted tachometer with programmable rev indicator
- Aluminum sport pedals and scuff plates
- Digital and analog speedometer
- Leather-trimmed tilt and telescopic steering wheel
- Leather-wrapped shift knob
- Microphone for Bluetooth® System
- Window indexing
- Engine immobilizer
STANDARD AUDIO SYSTEM
- Pioneer 300-watt total power output audio system with AUX/USB Port w/iPod Connectivity
- Hands-free phone capability and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless technology
- 160-watt Pioneer AM/FM/CD/HD head unit
- 140-watt two-channel amplifier
- 8 speakers
- RCA output jacks
- Bluetooth® connectivity: Hands-free phone and streaming audio
- HD RadioTM technology
- Auxiliary audio and USB input ports
STANDARD SAFETY AND SECURITY
- Standard driver and front passenger dual-stage advanced airbags, driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags, front and rear passenger side curtain airbags (total of 6)
- Integrated headrests for driver and front passenger
- Three-point front seatbelts with pretensioners and force limiters; ALR/ELR retractors on all passenger seatbelts
- STAR Safety SystemTM
- – Anti-lock Brake System (ABS)
- – Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD)
- – Traction Control (TRAC)
- – Brake Assist (BA)
- – Vehicle Stability Control (VSC)
- – Smart Stop Technology (SST)
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
- LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children)
BASIC LIMITED WARRANTY COVERAGE
- 3-year/36,000-mile Comprehensive
- 5-year/60,000-mile Powertrain
- 5-year/unlimited-mileage Corrosion Perforation
Complimentary Scion Service Boost
- 2-year or 25,000-mile Factory-Scheduled
- 2-year 24-hour Roadside Assistance
- BeSpoke Premium Audio
- Ashtray kit
- Arm rest
- Carpet trunk mat
- Wheel locks
- Fog lights
- Mud guards
- Rear spoiler
- Rear bumper applique
- Paint protection film
- Door edge guards
- Cold air intake
- Exhaust system
- Air filter
- Oil filler cap
- Lowering springs
- Strut tie brace
- Sway bars
- 18" alloy wheel
- Big brake, front
- Performance brake pads
Article Last Updated: April 26, 2012.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.