In 1998 the final Toyota Supra rolled off of the production line and in 2005 (2006 for Japan) the last Celica reached the States shores. Since this time in history Toyota has had no sports car in production that adequately reflected the brand. The Celica was a poor excuse for a sports car with a measly 140hp rating and its front wheel drive setup. This leaves nearly a fifteen year gap between Toyota’s last sports car and today. Toyota enthusiasts need not fret any longer though!! The Scion FR-S has arrived!! Production of the FR-S began in 2007 when Toyota approached Subaru (or Subaru approached Toyota, both dispute this claim) about producing a rear-wheel drive sports car at an entry level price point. Toyota willingly admits that Subaru undertook the brunt of the production while Toyota claims Subaru engineers were being given Toyota guidance throughout the process. It’s hard to define whose brainchild the FR-S (or BRZ as Subaru has branded it) was, but it is clear that the chassis and the 2.0 liter flat-four Boxer is Subaru equipment. Toyota provided its eight-injector direct and port fuel injection system and allegedly the inspiration for the modern AE86 reincarnation. With one glace at the FR-S’s bodylines one can tell that the FR-S is undeniably Toyota stock. The shape of the body mirrors the 2000GT of the 1960’s while the front end mimics the FR-S’s big brother, the Lexus LFA. Under the hood, both Subaru and Toyota emblems are visible, while the entirety of assembly of the FR-S and BRZ rests on Subaru’s shoulders alone.
So how do the BRZ and FR-S differ? The BRZ is alleged to be more focused on stability while the FR-S is about agility. What does this mean? The FR-S receives slightly softer springs coupled with stiffer dampers. Critics argue that the BRZ understeer’s while the FR-S does not. Upon my own analysis…it’s hard to tell. These are the only performance related variations; otherwise the FR-S and BRZ remain homogenous under the skin. The BRZ features a unique spoiler and some minor trim changes in the interior where both boast the same general shapes and layout throughout the cabin.
When it comes to handling the FR-S is an exceptional canyon carver for a number of reasons. Toyota boasts that the FR-S features a center of gravity superior to the Porsche Cayman. This is due in part because of the placement of the engine and the fitment of the transmission. The flat-four sits low in the engine compartment and lends the FR-S to its inherent liveliness and drift-ability. The transmission in the FR-S is an Aisen unit similar to the ones fitted in the Lexus IS. The gearbox is tight and enjoyable to row through and for driving purists the manual transmission is the only way to go. Holding the stability control button for three seconds yields a more spirited driving experience that can be unforgiving to those that don’t know what they’re doing. The FR-S offers a pure driving experience that feels organic and natural from the driver’s seat. This is the FR-S’s most notable characteristic. It is unadulterated, crisp, and fun to drive. Even with only 200hp and 151ft-lbs of torque the FR-S inspires the race car driver in all of us. 0-60 times should be just north of 6 seconds riding on the factory equipped Michelins Primacy HP tires that are the same tires that the Prius rides on. With only a few modifications the FR-S could be an exceptional weekend warrior. Fitted with new tires, a more freely flowing exhaust, and maybe a turbo, the FR-S could be a real force to reckon with. Every function that the FR-S was meant to fulfill works flawlessly and seems to be a great success. The FR-S is great fun to drive but will remind you when you forget you’re not Mario Andretti.
Specs:Base Price: $25,000
Engine: DOHC 16-Valve flat-four, aluminum block and heads, port and direct fuel injection
0-60mph: 6.0 seconds
Standing ¼ mile: 15.5 seconds
Top Speed: 143mph
Fuel Economy: 19/27
Credits: Emmett Vick, Tony Quiroga, and CarandDriver.com