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2014 Scion FR-S: Best sports car for $25,000?

Now in its second year, the 2014 Scion FR-S coupe is largely unchanged from the debut model. Additional padding has been added to door panels and center console, and there’s now a touchscreen audio system.But the Scion remains unheralded as an entry-level sports car — available only in the United States — and with an odd name that makes sense. The FR-S is the acronym of the car’s platform — Front-engine, Rear-wheel drive, Sport.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

Available in only one trim, the four-seat 2014 Scion FR-S features a 2.0-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine generating 200 horsepower. My weekly driver included a six-speed manual transmission. But there’s also a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters available.

Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels; air-conditioning; full power accessories; a height-adjustable driver seat; a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel; cruise control; Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity; and an eight-speaker sound system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen, a CD player, HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack and USB/iPod integration.

There are no option packages available, but Scion offers a sizable array of dealer-installed accessories: foglights; a performance exhaust system and a premium BeSpoke sound system with navigation, voice command, smartphone app integration and Internet radio.

Driving the Scion FR-S is exciting. Despite its 17-inch wheels, the car’s platform is low. And while it’s not appreciably quick, the Scion drives as if the driver, the road surface and the vehicle are all in sync. The front seats are race car-like. Every bump is felt. Steering is responsive and the engine is loud — all fine qualities for a sports car.

2014 Scion FR-S: Best sports car for $25,000? 1

The Scion FR-S doesn’t have any direct competition, but it’s not too dissimilar from the Mazda MX-5 Miata and the Mini. All define fun to drive and all represent a moderately price way to experience the thrill of driving a sports car.

The Scion, which from the exterior window angle bears some resemblance to a Porsche, is more sports car than the Miata or Mini. But the latter duo both get far better gas mileage, while the Miata is available is a soft top or power-retractable hardtop.

In city driving, it’s fun to shift gears and zip around and easily scoot in and out of tight driving scenarios. On the freeway, the Scion FR-S can maneuver through traffic, too. But it’s also a little car finding its way against far larger opposition.

Likes:

Agile handling.

Responsive steering.

Comfortable, supportive front seats.

Dislikes:

Difficulty entering and exiting the car.

Blind spot for driver over left shoulder in B pillar.

No room for passengers in the back seat.

Facts & Figures, 2014 Scion FR-S

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 6.5 seconds.
Airbags: 6. Fuel economy: 22 mpg (city), 30 mpg (highway), 25 mpg (combined) six-speed manual transmission. Horsepower: 200.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $24,700.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.scion.com.
Price As Tested: $25,455.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles. Roadside Assistance, 2 years/25,000 miles.

What Others Say:

“The typical sports car drawbacks apply, including a firm ride and limited space, but they’re a small price to pay for the FR-S’ seriously fun driving experience.” — Left Lane News.com.

“This car is for those who find more thrills in corners than on straightaways, and it’s refreshing indeed to find a reasonably priced modern-day sports car with such a focused mission.” — AutoTrader.com.

“The Scion FR-S is almost in a class by itself. It has respectable performance credentials, a fun-to-drive personality, and surprisingly modest pricing.” — Consumer Guide.com.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“The 2014 Scion FR-S isn’t for everyone. But as a handsome, moderately priced coupe with a good supply of spunk, it’s got a lot going for itself as an entry level way to appreciate all the bumps, tight cornering and low-to-the-ground feel of a sports car.”

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