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2013 Scion FR-S: Not so fast, but country's best modestly priced sports car?

When Scion debuted a decade ago, the idea was to attract younger buyers to Toyota with a funky design, a modest price and a hopeful degree of hipness in lieu of acceleration or state-of-the art technology.

The 2013 Scion FR-S is the first sports car for the brand, co-developed by Subaru and thus directly and unmistakably related to its close relative, the Subaru BRZ.

2013 Scion FR-S: Not so fast, but country's best modestly priced sports car? 1
Scion FR-S, 2013. All images © James Raia/2012

The Scion FR-S, like its family members, is still value priced. But as a lightweight, low-center-of-gravity, classic-sports-car-steering, sleek-sport-car-designed machine, the Scion FR-S is a modern-day version of Toyota’s original “Z” cars.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

It’s never been my favorite color in cars, but few vehicles attract more attention than red sports cars. My Scion FR-S technically had a Firestorm (Read: Bright Red) exterior matched with a black interior. That’s enough to attract plenty of attention, which the FR-S did.2013 Scion FR-S: Not so fast, but country's best modestly priced sports car? 2The FR-S lettering stands for Front-engine, Rear-wheel-drive Sport, which places it in rare company among modestly priced sports cars and provides further reason for the car’s easy-to-like status.

My weekly driver featured a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder, 16-valve transmission, which produced 200 horsepower, and a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.2013 Scion FR-S: Not so fast, but country's best modestly priced sports car? 3The numbers don’t equate to a particularly powerful engine. But the FR-S has an advantage — it’s lightweight (2,759 pounds), steers true and tight and it’s low to the ground.

As such, while it’s not particularly quick, the FR-S gives the impression it’s faster than its rating of 0-60 mph in 6.6 seconds. The result: it’s appreciably fun to drive.2013 Scion FR-S: Not so fast, but country's best modestly priced sports car? 4Beyond acceleration, the Scion FR-S has a substantial list of standard features, the full spectrum of Bluetooth technology to remote keyless entry and aluminum sport and scuff pedals to Halogen headlamps.

Likes:

Responsive handling

Beautifully designed exterior.

Comfortable front seats.

Impressive list of standard features.

Dislikes:

Just not quite as fast as it looks.

Premium fuel required.

Severe blind spot for a 6-foot driver to the left rear.

Limited trunk space.

Back seat good for groceries, other small cargo, but not big enough for anyone bigger than a small child.

Difficult to read radio dials.

Facts & Figures: 2013 Scion FR-S

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 6.6 seconds.
Airbags (6).
Fuel economy: 25 mpg (city), 34 mpg (highway), 28 mpg (combined) six-speed automatic transmission.
Government Safety Ratings: Not tested.
Horsepower: 200
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $25,300.00
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.scion.com
Price As tested: $26,097.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Roadside Assistance, 2 years/25,000 miles; Roadside assistance, 2 years/25,000 miles
Free scheduled maintenance, 2 years/25,000 miles.

What Others Say:

” ‘Natural’ is the operative word with the FR-S, as every action and reaction feels like you expect it to. The car’s chief virtue is its simplicity.” — Automobile Magazine.

“Let me put it this way: a whole lot of budget-minded sports cars hitting the streets and autocross courses today should be worried- that means you, Honda CR-Z, Mazda RX-8, Hyundai Genesis Coupe, Mazda MX-5, Honda Civic Si, and even the Nissan 370Z.” — Motor Trend.

“Being perfectly candid, we didn’t yearn for more horsepower or more torque. Thanks to a very low curb weight (estimated at about 2,700 pounds), a well-balanced chassis (53/47 percent front/rear) and a low center of gravity (besting the Porsche Cayman), the Scion was as obedient as a well-trained Border Collie.” — Autoblog

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“If I were in the market for a value-priced sports car, the Scion FR-S would be hard to beat. It offers a lot for the price, and it’s hard to argue with one friend who said, ‘It may be a cheap man’s Corvette, but I’ll take it for the money, any day.’ “

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