2013 Scion FR-S manual follow-up review: It’s a sports car thing

2013 Scion FR-S

2013 Scion FR-S

It’s a sports car thing. Anyone who ‘s ever owned, and loved, a sports car will immediately like the 2013 Scion FR-S, and probably love it.

And that’s because the FR-S is one of those cars that you can drop yourself into the driver’s seat and enjoy driving on the way to work, in a way that, say, a Corvette or a Porsche 911 couldn’t be. Driving a car like a ‘Vette or 911 on ordinary errands leaves so much on the table, using so little of its abilities that indeed it’s frustrating. Put the hammer down in one of those and you’re in the next county, if not in the hoosegow.

The cockpit of the 2013 Scion FR-S has a centrally located tachometer.

The cockpit of the 2013 Scion FR-S has a centrally located tachometer. (click to enlarge)

The Scion FR-S, however, has 200 horsepower, and even with its relatively light weight (under 2.800 lbs with the manual transmission), a driver doesn’t have to worry about attracting attention of the local constabulary, although, you know, not with said peace officer in the next lane over. But rev it out on the entrance ramp? Go right ahead.

And for any sports car enthusiast so fortunate to have ready access to winding road, the Scion FR-S can be modestly flailed without becoming a menace to society.  On sports car roads—traditional sports car roads—a driving a Porsche or Corvette is like trying to waltz in a closet. There just isn’t room. The FR-S, however, has the precision and compact size to thread that particular needle.

2013 Scion FR-S seats

Not everyone will find the sports seats in the 2013 Scion FR-S comfortable, but they’re a perfect fit for a sports car. (click to enlarge)

Indeed, the FR-S is a sports car is useable on a day-to-day basis. Of course, there are sacrifices compared to a sedan, and the first is getting in. The FR-s is low. How low? Seated in the driver’s seat, we were able to open the door and pick up the newspaper off the driveway. And going through any drive-through at the bank meant groping around in the slide-out drawer we couldn’t see into.

Speaking of the seats, the big bolsters make it more difficult to get in, and for those whose personal south forty might be closer to fifty or sixty, the fit will be snug.

2013 Scion FR-S cargo area

The rear seats have extremely limited room, but the seatbacks of the 2013 Scion FR-S fold flat to carry four wheels/tires for track days or autocrossing. (click to enlarge)

An ideosyncrasy of the 2013 FR-S is tire squeal from tight corners at low speeds. It’s the tight limited-slip rear end, folks, not us misbehaving. At least not at this moment.

The Scion FR-S is also, shall we say, firm of ride. It’s not jiggly or harsh, but driving over railroad tracks is memorable experience, and the FR-S will find road seams you never noticed before. That’s paid back, of course, when the twisties arrive.

The eagerness of the FR-S for winding roads, however, comes in part from the responsiveness of the steering. While that’s exactly what’s needed for going around corners—it’s called “good turn-in”—on the highway it can feel twitchy to the uninitiated. This is not a car to drive with one wrist drooped languidly atop the steering wheel. Actually, no car is, if for no other reason that should the airbag deploy, the driver’s going to get slapped across the kisser, and rather violently at that.

2013 Scion FR-S

2013 Scion FR-S (click to enlarge)

But we digress. That connectedness between the steering wheel and the pavement makes the FR-S feel like a living thing. And if that sounds like a cliché, this is the kind of car that made that cliché inevitable.

And that, of course, is that a good affordable sports car is all about, with a list includes the original Mazda RX-7, the Mazda Miata, the Honda S2000 or the Toyota MR-2. And one could take that back to the Fiat X1-9, the Datsun 240Z, or the plethora of MG, Triumph and other British sports before the British forgot how to make sports cars for the common man. Ask anyone who owned one of these iconic sports cars and you’ll get stories. Dare we say that the 2013 Scion FR-S will inspire stories of its own? Indeed we do. Don’t be the guy who could have owned one…but didn’t.