Review: 2014 Scion FR-S

Tuesday November 25th, 2014 at 1:1111 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2014 Scion FR-S

By David Colman

Hypes: Handles Better Than a Bug Eye Sprite
Gripes: Some Interior Ergonomic Improvements Needed

Over the course of a car model year, I typically test 50 new vehicles. Of those, fewer than 10 make the cut as cars I would buy and own. The Scion FR-S is one of those 10 for 2014. The FR-S’ fun-to-price ratio pegs it as a best buy in the sports coupe category. If you’re an enthusiast driver looking for slot car handling in a practical, economical package, this Scion fits the bill. Every time you slip behind its perforated black leather steering wheel, you know you’re in for a spell of undiluted driving entertainment. Only a car as nimble and light (2,758 lb.) as the FR-S can provide the immediate feedback that is this Scion’s defining trait. The interface between driver and machine is so polished and rewarding that you will never look at recreational driving the same way again. That you can experience automotive nirvana for a base price of just $24,700 defies logic.

2014 Scion FR-S

It certainly isn’t the FR-S’ Subaru power plant that evokes such jubilation. The 2.0 liter opposed 4 cylinder engine is hard pressed to make 200hp and just 151lb.-ft. of torque without also producing substantial noise and vibration. The silver faced tachometer, which features a programmable rev indicator, reads to 9,000rpm. Although the Boxer motor reaches redline at 7,600rpm, you’ll want to up shift sooner than that to avoid the racket at redline. Although the FR-S is not blindingly quick in a straight line, it’s so well balanced that you hardly notice the power shortfall. The superb steering feel, ultra precise shift linkage, and highly retentive sport seats foster the illusion that you’re driving a race car. Only the similarly priced Mazda MX-5 comes close to emulating the responsiveness of the FR-S. And the petit Mazda roadster offers none of the FR-S’ practicality: roomy interior, hatchback storage access, abbreviated rear seat, and permanently enclosed construction. You get the same kind of performance as the MX-5 without making the kind of concessions that render the Mazda comparatively impractical for daily use. This Scion can be your daily driver all week long, then play racer for you on the weekends.

2014 Scion FR-S

Of course, you will notice a few price point-bred drawbacks to FR-S ownership. When you open the cabin door, you will be hard pressed to stuff your bag or purse into the rear seat area without first tilting the front seatbacks forward. When you flop them backwards in order to climb in, the back rest returns, not to your pre-selected angle, but rather to the full upright position. After you’ve dealt with this 2 or 3 times in the course of a day’s errands, you’ll wonder why Scion didn’t endow these otherwise excellent seats with backrest position memory. The rather elemental beverage holder between the front seats also garners a cost cutting demerit. It contains 2 identically sized receptacles, neither of which feature prongs to adapt to smaller diameter cups. As a result, my co-pilot was forced to stabilize a Starbucks “tall” size cup by hand, rather than rely on the sloppy fit of the holder. These shortcomings are a surprise in a cabin that is otherwise thoughtfully designed, with unexpectedly lavish attention to detail.

For example, the clutch, brake and accelerator “sport” pedals are furnished with slip free surfaces fashioned from rubber and aluminum that match the threshold scuff plates. This intricate bright work looks like it belongs on a Ferrari, not a bargain Scion. Likewise, the dash face looks suitably business like and racy thanks to a faux carbon fiber strip that garnishes the understated interior with just the right touch of glamour. Red contrasting stitching on the steering wheel, seat bolsters and door kick plates are the only traces of flamboyance in the tightly focused driving environment Scion has perfected here.

2014 Scion FR-S

The 215/45R17 Bridgestone Turanza R400 tires provide a slight handling improvement over the Michelin all-season radials fitted to previous FR-Ss throughout the first year of production. But given this coupe’s inherent balance and grip, it cries out for the stickiest aftermarket tires you can afford. If this FR-S landed in my garage on a permanent basis, it would be wearing a set of BFG, or Hoosier soft compound autocross rubber that would transform it into the go-kart Scion meant to be at birth.

2014 Scion FR-S

  • Engine: 2.0 liter opposed 4 cylinder DOHC, 16 Valve
  • Horsepower: 200hp
  • Torque: 151lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 22 MPG City/30 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $25,455
  • Star Rating: 10 out of 10 Stars

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2013 Scion FR-S Automatic Review

Monday April 1st, 2013 at 8:44 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Incredible Handling Precision
Gripes: Where’s the Turbo?

It’s a lot more fun to be the driver of an FR-S than its passenger. The lucky driver enjoys the diminutive coupe’s exceptional road holding while the passenger gets a head lashing from excessive g-Forces. The driver picks precise lines through switchbacks while the passenger gets jounced like a bobblehead. If you’re not in the captain’s chair of the F-RS you might as well stay home, because this Toyota is all about the art of driving not riding.

You might think that saddling the FR-S with an automatic gearbox would detract from its ultimate appeal as a back road weapon. I know that I was crestfallen to discover — after lacing up my best driving shoes — that this FR-S had but two pedals on the floor. But I needn’t have worried, because the paddle=shifted 6-speed automatic is so responsive to driver input that you can make it sing the same high-pitched aria as its stick shift sister.

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2013 Scion FR-S Review

Wednesday December 26th, 2012 at 8:1212 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

For: Light, Swift, Agile, Racerized
Against: Needs Stickier Tires, 6-Speed Automatic Is Buzz Kill

The bold new Scion FR-S looks best when painted in Hot Lava, a shocking shade of pearlescent orange that perfectly summarizes the impertinent nature of this sizzling hot hatchback. With the FR-S, Scion engineers have managed to craft the perfect autocross car. Once properly classed by the Competition Board of the SCCA, the FR-S will win many national titles, not only in autocross, but road racing as well. In fact, the FR-S is destined to become the next Mazda Miata/MX-5 in terms of affordability, competitiveness, and cult interest. The FR-S will also launch a cottage industry of tuners dedicated to making it go faster and handle better.

Video from Ignition
YouTube Preview Image

This is a ground-breaking product, because its design was generated, not by considerations of practicality, comfort, nor gadgetry, but by performance metrics alone. This is not to say that the FR-S is impractical, uncomfortable, or bare bones, because it is not any of those things. But those ancillaries never factored into the basic equation here. Toyota, with input from Subaru (who sell their own version called BRZ), never wavered from their laser-like design vision: “Build a sports car – not by committee, but by passion – that is light, compact, agile, and intuitive, delivering true sports car performance at an affordable price.”

Just like the original Miata of 1990, the FR-S offers quintessential sports car performance. And it does so at a remarkably affordable base price of $24,200. In fact, the out-the-door bottom line on our test car was $24,997, including $67 for wheel locks, and $730 for delivery processing and handling fee. At the long-lead press presentation of the FR-S, Scion included hot laps on the Spring Mountain motorsports and country club track in Pahrump, NV. Just to prove the car’s bona fides, event planners also included a testy autocross course on an adjacent skidpad area.

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2012 Scion tC Review

Wednesday July 18th, 2012 at 11:77 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

For: High Grade Standard Seats, Sunroofs, Vast Hatchback Opening
Against: Expensive TRD Options, No Paddle Shifts

At a base price of just $19,575, the Scion tC puts you in the driver’s seat of a solid, enjoyable product of Toyota engineering. Redesigned with a turret-top and slit headlights for 2011, the striking tC remains unchanged for 2012. Its specification list surprises you with unexpected extras. Under the stubby hood lies a 2.5 liter, in-line 4, decked out with variable valve timing (VVT-i), twin overhead camshafts (DOHC) and 16 valves, all of which conspire to produce a hefty 180hp. Now that almost every engine compartment is hidden from view by plastic modesty shielding, it’s a pleasure to be able to examine the workings of this Scion’s lively four binger without having to remove an obstructive cover plate.

Unanticipated extras keep on coming once you slip inside the low-roofed cabin. The driver’s seat feels like it belongs in a much more expensive vehicle, with its nubby fabric gripping your torso, and its high side bolsters clamping you like a vice. Given the fact that our test tC was optionally equipped ($2,199) with 19 inch anthracite TRD alloy wheels and high g-force generating Toyo Proxes S4 tires (235/35ZR19), the cosseting seats were more than a match for the exceptional side loads posted by this Scion. Another unexpected benefit of the tC’s redesign is the standard double sunroof that brightens the interior. This solarium effect more than compensates for the short side windows that give the new tC its tank-like profile. Once you’re settled inside, you almost feel like you’re driving a convertible. The separate rear sunroof makes even the rear seat seem like a hospitable place, though access to it is inhibited by the car’s short wheelbase and bulky front seat backs.

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Table of Contents – Editorial Car Reviews, Feature Articles

Tuesday October 11th, 2011 at 2:1010 PM
Posted by: Derek

CarReview_Contents_header

Below is a comprehensive list of all the Expert Car Reviews and feature articles published on CarReview.com [updated 10/11/2011]:

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2011 Scion tC Review – Calling out to the Millenials, but speaking at low volume

Saturday August 13th, 2011 at 11:88 AM
Posted by: Derek

2011 Scion tC 18-inch alloy wheels
By someone posing as Derek

Likes:

  • Optional Alpine sound system
  • Smart iPod interface
  • Reclining rear seat

Dislikes:

  • New exterior design looks very close to the first generation
  • Too much use of hard plastics inside the cabin
  • Droning exhaust note
  • Uninspiring road handling dynamics

Toyota merrily points out that Scion has the youngest average customer in the industry and that 71 percent of all 800,000 or so Scions have been sold to buyers who are new to the Toyota brand. It seems Scion’s customers are America’s newest generation, the Millennials, who are in their middle of this coming-of-age phase of its life cycle. Its oldest members are approaching age 30; its youngest are approaching adolescence. Interestingly enough, with a median age of 29, it’s the tC coupe’s 310,000 total sales since 2002 (accounting for 41 percent of all Scion production) that manages to attract the youngest customers of all.

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2012 Scion iQ Review – Diminutive in size, big on practicality

Monday August 1st, 2011 at 10:88 AM
Posted by: Derek

2012 Scion iQ
By David Colman

Likes:

  • Urban champ
  • Nimble
  • Recasts microcar as premium product

Dislikes:

  • Still tight dimensions
  • CVT drone
  • Wear a helmet

Microcars have always demanded that you make concessions to absurdity. Most of them look like circus clown cars or they make you behave like a circus clown. Generally speaking they’re pitifully small and slow. And there’s always been something demeaning about them, whether climbing through a clamshell windshield for entry, or cowering next to an adjacent semi. While they might be perfect for collecting microbes or reading microfiche, microcars have historically been impractical. But what if you could design one to behave like a real car? Then you’d have a Scion iQ.

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2011 Scion xB Release Series 8.0 First Impressions Review – Lets Do That Voodoo That You Do So Well

Friday April 22nd, 2011 at 11:44 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2011_scion_xc_release80_1
By contributing editor David Colman

Hits:

  • 1 of 2,000
  • Utilitarian
  • Affordable

Misses:

  • Glacial acceleration
  • Alpine Premium iPod Ready stereo not ready for my iPod

Let’s say you’ve set yourself a price limit of $25,000 for a small, but fun-to-drive 5-place transportation module. You want something that’s minuscule enough to park anywhere, but large enough inside to forestall claustrophobia. In addition to those seemingly contradictory requirements, your ideal pick must also be sufficiently idiosyncratic to stand apart from anything else in the parking lot. Allow me to introduce you to the Scion xB Release Series 8.0.

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Scion FR-S Concept Revealed at New York Auto Show

Thursday April 21st, 2011 at 12:44 PM
Posted by: ggaillard

The return of the affordable, sensible, fun-to-drive coupe

Scion_FRS_Concept2
By Greg Gaillard

FR-S stands for Front-engine, Rear-wheel drive, Sport. Pretty simple. Jack Hollis, VP of Scion, personally believes it should stand for Friggin’ Really Sweet, but the legal department at Toyota was NOT feeling the same way.

Initially people questioned Toyota’s investment in Subaru. GM had struggled to create a profitable partnership with the off-beat brand, so what could Toyota do differently? The unofficially named Toyobaru answered by not following the traditional strategy of re-skinning existing platforms to fill out brand portfolios. A decision was made to build something new; something that melded both companies’ best components and ideas. Soon thereafter rumors suggested that the first product from this mindset would be a co-developed 2+2 sports car that would put a halo over both companies’ showrooms.

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2011 Scion tC Review – A Trendy Sport Coupe for All Ages

Friday August 20th, 2010 at 8:88 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By contributing editor David Colman

Pros

  • Generous bump in horsepower and torque over the previous generation
  • Retuned suspension makes the new tC fun to drive
  • Flat-bottom, fat-rimmed steering wheel adds to the fun factor
  • Available TRD options for off-the-scale fun


Cons

  • Sequential transmission missing steering wheel mounted shifter paddles
  • Inside sunroof cover is flimsy
  • Small buttons and knobs make it difficult to use the Alpine stereo
  • 5 inch navigation screen too small and difficult to read with a quick glance

Despite the fact that Scion would like you to think that their new second generation tC is the perfect parcel designed exclusively for Gen Y, this smart new coupe outsmarts its own parent company by appealing to all age groups. No, you don’t have to love discordant music played at ear splitting levels to love the new tC. Nor do you need to cock your flat brim farmer’s cap sideways to appreciate this latest effort from Toyota’s youngest offspring company. In fact, it’s something of a mystery just why Scion limits their marketing to an age group that can barely afford to purchase a tC without parental assistance.
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