KBB Editors' Overview
By Micah Muzio - Updated Date: 5/17/2012
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 This Car If...
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.
You May Not Like This Car If...
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.
What's New for 2013
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).
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.
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.
Notable Standard Equipment
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.
Notable Optional Equipment
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.
Under the Hood
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.