By Micah Muzio
KBB Expert Rating: 8.0
A few years ago, Toyota and Subaru joined forces to develop a fun, affordable sports coupe. Known abroad as the Toyota 86 and GT86, the fruit of that union comes to America as both the somewhat-more-premium Subaru BRZ and the value-focused 2013 Scion FR-S. With a sub-$25,000 base price the 2013 FR-S gives budget-minded sports car enthusiasts all the essentials – sporting style, solid straight-line performance and nicely balanced rear-drive handling dynamics.
You'll like the 2013 Scion FR-S if you want a reasonably-priced, excellent handling car that rewards and satisfies advanced drivers without posing a hazard to those with less experience.
If lofty horsepower figures float your boat the 305-horsepower Ford Mustang V6 and 274-horsepower Hyundai Genesis Coupe each offer more ponies per dollar than the Scion FR-S. Also, while it's technically a 4-seater, humans with thoughts and feelings shouldn't be subjected to the Scion's cramped rear quarters.
All-new and channeling the spirit of performance icons like the Toyota AE86 and 2000GT, the 2013 FR-S is undoubtedly the most thrilling product to enter Toyota's portfolio in some time (even if it does technically wear a Scion badge).
Driving Impressions Above all else the Scion FR-S is built for driving pleasure, and in that mission, it is an unabashed success. Every movement of the steering wheel and minute adjustments of...the throttle are met with an immediate response from the vehicle. The FR-S isn't just an excellent handling coupe, it's the kind of car that makes its abilities readily accessible to drivers of varying skill levels. Less experienced drivers can explore the FR-S's handling limits without major repercussions, while advanced drivers will find the Scion a willing high-speed accomplice. Balanced handling is the big draw but the Scion FR-S also delivers good, if not earth-scorching, acceleration and firm, confident brakes. Though engineered for aggressive driving, the FR-S remains civilized enough for daily commutes with a ride that is undeniably firm but not punishing.
Hidden Subaru Logos
Rich in dynamic thrills, the 2013 Scion FR-S is also fun when motionless thanks to numerous Subaru logos hidden throughout the vehicle. Searching for them is like an Easter egg hunt for car nerds.
Torsen Limited-Slip Differential
What good is power if you can't exploit it? Enter the FR-S's standard Torsen limited-slip differential (LSD). This little device distributes power to rear wheels in turns, ensuring proper acceleration out of corners. The LSD also means the FR-S is equipped from the factory to go "drifting" (on a closed-track environment of course).
The interior of the Scion FR-S is as big as it needs to be but no bigger, resulting in a cabin that feels cozy but comfortable like a fitted t-shirt, at least it is for those sitting in the incredibly supportive front seats. In contrast, the rear seats offer very limited headroom and nearly non-existent legroom, limiting their use to desperate situations. Flipping down the rear seatbacks expands the small 6.9-cubic-foot trunk creating a useful, flat cargo space. Though compact, the interior feels smartly designed, excluding the confusing audio system, with nice materials elevating it above typical Scion fare.Exterior
Pictures of the Scion FR-S can be deceiving. In person, Scion's sports coupe is smaller than one might expect – 15.6 inches less lengthy than the not-particularly-large Hyundai Genesis Coupe. In person, those tidy dimensions serve to enhance the visual charm of the FR-S's shapely exterior. With pronounced fenders, a planted stance and a sleek profile, the Scion FR-S projects an appropriately sporty image without looking overdone. Helping distinguish the FR-S from its nearly-identical Subaru BRZ sibling are a revised front fascia, unique fender adornment and, of course, Scion badging.
Headlining the standard equipment roster are air conditioning, cruise control, 1-touch power windows, power mirrors and door locks, 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth and an 8-speaker audio system with auxiliary and USB inputs. On the safety front, all FR-S's feature stability control, traction control, six airbags, and Smart Stop, a feature that cuts engine power if the brake and throttle pedals are pressed at the same time.
The Scion FR-S is sold as a single trim, meaning factory-installed options are limited to an automatic transmission and the buyer's choice of exterior color. All other add-ons come in the form of dealer-installed accessories including a rear spoiler, 18-inch wheels, upgraded brakes, lowering springs, and a sporty body kit. Buyers can also add a 340-watt Pioneer BeSpoke Premium audio system that includes navigation, a 5.8-inch touch screen and Zypr, a feature that lets users access iPhone app functionality with voice commands.
A 2.0-liter horizontally-opposed 4-cylinder is the lone engine offered in the 2013 Scion FR-S. Due in large part to the "flat" layout of its engine the FR-S boasts an extremely low center of gravity, a feature that helps enhance handling. Transmission choices include an excellent-shifting 6-speed manual and a similarly charming 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters, although the latter's hesitance to downshift in manual mode can be annoying during spirited driving. Interestingly, buyers looking for the best fuel economy should choose the substantially more efficient 6-speed automatic, which returns up to 34 miles per gallon on the freeway.
200 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm
151 lb-ft of torque @ 6,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/30 mpg (manual), 25/34 mpg (automatic)
Pricing for the Scion FR-S coupe starts at $24,930 including destination. Thanks to Scion's simple "1-spec" ordering system, the only factory option is the automatic transmission, a feature that adds $1,100 to the bottom line. Both the Hyundai Genesis Coupe and the Mazda MX-5 Miata cost about the same as the 2013 Scion FR-S, while the Ford Mustang can be had for several thousand dollars less. When it comes to resale value, Scions have traditionally held their worth well over time, a tradition we expect the FR-S to carry on. For the latest pricing and residual value information on the Scion FR-S and its competitors, be sure to check out the KBB Fair Purchase Price.
By Kare on Wednesday, February 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive"
Cons: "roller skate on ice/snow"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I love this little sports car...beautiful design and great handling, except on snow and ice. At that point, even with the "snow" button pressed, this great little car turns into a roller skate! I've added 180 lbs. of sand bags to the trunk to help, but results are not more than minimal. Other issue is climbing out of the glove-like seats...must be an agile person. I would recommend this for a three- season driver for a younger person."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By MarkinTempe on Monday, January 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 800overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have had literally over 100 used cars (went through the phase of buying and selling rust free classics out here in Arizona). My favorites have been the Datsun 240z's and early Miatas. I have to say this if you took the best parts of both cars, coupled it with some modern technology, you'd have the Scion FRS. I bought the 10th anniversary edition as I loved the color and some of the little options. Anyway, absolutely perfect car and with the seats folding down it has surprising trunk capacity. Thank you Toyota/Scion, you created a modern sports car waiting to be crowned a classic. Just please don't make too many of them... lol I like being unique."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Djavol on Thursday, January 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive; Cheap; Fast; Good MPG; Handles well"
Cons: "Poor audio system; NO modern technology"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"This car is fun to drive, sporty, and quick. A pleasure to drive. My friend's 2002 Civic however, has more technology in it than my FR-S. No steering wheel controls for the audio system. The voice command doesn't work well (relies on your phone's voice command if it has one). Speakers sound like they're about to blow at low volume and the EQ adjustments are better on my college clock-radio. If you just want to drive, get this car. If you like modern technology... go for ANYTHING else built after 2000."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Arnie on Tuesday, November 19, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun drive, brilliant handling, 29mpg combined !!"
Cons: "Back seat is a joke, bad interior design"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"When I got my first job, I started hunting for a sports car that I can afford, yet without compromising too much on quality. I test drove almost all the cars in the market in my price range( around 30K). I drove Genesis, Camaro, Miata, 370Z( I liked that the best but it was over my budget). Finally I decided on FR-S becuase of the following:- 1. Brilliant Handling, low Center of gravity. You won't realize how easy it is to make those turns at 65-70mph that you can never make in other cars. It sits low and sticks to the ground. 2.For a sports cars, and 200 hp , my combined gas mileage is 29.5MPG ! That is really impressive when compared to even a Miata, leave alone other cars like Camaro. 3. It is very comfortable to sit in for long drives. 4.Huge trunk space for a car like this and gets bigger if you fold the back seats. ( Back seats are a joke !, don't be fooled by it !) 5. Spare tire, miata doesn't have it. Bottom line is, if you drive one of these, you will know what I am talking about, and please buy a stick shift, transmission is so smooth. My cousin who never drove one, picked it up in 7 days !! P.S.:- You can really push this car, I drove it 120mph without feeling any discomfort or turbulence Have Fun !"
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By funguy2playwith on Wednesday, September 18, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 440overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "delivers everything it promises"
Cons: "bespoke (nav) is a much too expensive upgrade"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Picked up a manual 10th anniversary. This car is awesome. The 10th has a lot of little extras that make a very good car GREAT! I strongly suggest you consider an FR-S if you enjoy driving and if at all possible, the 10th. It isn't much more, has all the right things with nothing really frivolous. The dealers will resist discounting but I was able to get mine for a little less than invoice using one of the pricing tools, USAA I think it was. Michael 1749/2500"
6 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Gregorio on Tuesday, June 25, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,900overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Sporty style, great handleing, excellent gas MPG"
Cons: "Not many, stiff ride"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"This car is great fun to drive. But, only short distances less than 25 miles. Suspension is pretty stiff so every little imperfection in the road is transferred to the driver. Also, since the vehicle is so close to the ground, getting in and out can be difficult. Gas mileage is great. Sound system is awesome. A little under powered at low revs. But, impressive a 6,000-7,000 RPM. Have had the car about 10 months. Time to find something more comfortable."
16 people out of 23 found this review helpful