The 2016 Scion FR-S is a compact sports car and a collaboration of Toyota and Subaru that has also yielded the Subaru BRZ. This rear-wheel drive sport coupe is sold in one trim level.
The rear-wheel drive Scion FR-S is one of a handful of models sold by Toyota’s sub-brand. Built in partnership with Subaru, the compact FR-S and the similar Subaru BRZ bring a lightweight alternative to the market, a no-frills model sold in one trim level with package and accessory options available.
Place a sports coupe on a compact frame and keep the long hood and short deck and you have the starting point for the Scion FR-S. This model has a distinctive front fascia with teardrop-shaped headlamps and LED daytime running lights. The FR-S features a hexagonal lower grille opening flanked by rectangular incisions housing the fog lamps.
Every model comes equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels. Upswept character lines along the rocker panel neatly parallel the oblique roof line, and each point to the raised rear deck. At the rear, the Scion FR-S is embellished with sport tail lamps.
A pair of exhaust finishers are found on either side of the rear backup light and the third brake light.
Scion expects buyers to customize their rides and offers mudguards, paint protection film, a rear lip spoiler and striping packages as extras. Performance parts such as lowering springs, a performance air intake, a performance exhaust system, a sway bar kit and a quick shifter kit are available through Toyota Racing Development (TRD).
Frills are few in the 2016 FR-S’ interior. However, all models come with generously bolstered front seats with red trim and stitching. Both front seats are very comfortable and will keep you planted as you navigate the twistiest of roads.
The rear seat is essentially useless, offering no legroom with either the driver or front passenger seat pushed back. And that’s not hard to do with anyone who is 6 feet tall. Folding down the rear seat provides much needed storage room as the tiny trunk measures only 6.9 cubic feet.
The instrument panel is a simple design, featuring analog displays that include a 160-mph speedometer and a tachometer, in addition to fuel and oil pressure readouts. The tachometer also includes digital speedometer, odometer and gearing information. A leather-wrapped steering wheel is devoid of secondary controls.
Every model comes equipped with remote entry, aluminum scuff plates, push-button start, metal pedals, a tilt and telescopic steering column, air conditioning, power accessories, cup holders, in-door storage compartments with drink holders and an 8-speaker Pioneer audio system. A color display provides climate and media control information, however no navigation system is available. Between the seats is the transmission shifter and driving mode selector for Sport, Snow and VSC Sport.
Every Scion FR-S is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder boxer engine. This engine is a powerhouse with the pistons that are horizontally opposed for better performance and reduced shudder. The engine uses Toyota’s DS4 fuel-injection system that combines direct injection with port injection for enhanced power.
The naturally aspirated Scion is rated at 200 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters is available. This model is EPA-rated as high as 25/34 mpg city/highway and takes premium grade gasoline.
As tested, the Scion FR-S equipped with the automatic transmission provided ample verve, except when operated in manual mode. The shift points seem more subdued in manual, but not so when operating as an automatic. The engine is noisy, but not unpleasantly so. The engine revs high, delivers power adequate to the body’s mass and handling on twisty roads is very good. Positive steering feedback and firm brake support are evident. Switching to the VSC Sport drive mode cancels stability control and provides enhanced shifting.
A basic color display controlling the climate and audio functions is included with the Scion FR-S. However, this model does not offer satellite radio or a navigation system, such as the Entune package common to the Toyota brand. A BeSpoke audio with navigation system is offered as a $900 dealer-installed item.
All models come with a backup camera and an eight-speaker Pioneer audio system. Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack are included.
The Scion FR-S is a Top Safety Pick award recipient from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). All models come equipped with traction control, stability control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist and a suite of air bags. No advanced safety features such as blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control or forward collision warning are available with this model.
The 2016 Scion FR-S is priced from $26,100 when equipped with the manual transmission and $27,200 with the automatic transmission. With striping and paint packages taken, this model comes in at just above $28,000.
The FR-S is similarly priced to the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, another rear-wheel drive option to the larger Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger. Its price is also slightly above the front-wheel drive Ford Focus ST and the rear-wheel drive Mazda MX-5 Miata.
Buyers desiring a rear-wheel drive sports car without the girth of a Camaro or a Mustang might find the Scion FR-S or the similar Subaru BRZ to their liking. Slow sales for the two may mean an eventual canceling of the pair, but with Toyota standing behind an overhauled Scion sub-brand, the FR-S may yet survive.