June 18, 2012

2013 Scion FR-S

Base Price: $24,200 manual; $25,300 automatic
As Driven: $24,930; destination fee included
Engine: 2.0L 4-cylinder Boxer engine, 200 horsepower
Transmission: 6 Speed Manual
Wheelbase: 101.2 in
Curb Weight: 2,758 lbs.
MPG Rating: 22 city/ 30 highway

I’m going to ruin my “nerd” street cred right now.

I’ve never seen an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I’ve seen the early 90’s movie with Luke Perry & Kristi Swanson.  I still think Sarah Michelle Gellar is smoking hot.  Somehow through my secondary school years I missed the Buffy band wagon.

The fact that I’ve never seen an episode isn’t what bothers me.  It’s the fact that so many other nerds/geeks love the show, and I’m worried that I won’t. 

A future conversation:
Nerd friend: “Chris, have you watched Buffy yet?”
Me: “Yep, I still don’t get it.  Gellar’s hot, but the rest of the show eludes me…”

Friendship over…

This is the crap that I worry about.  Sad, right?

This is why I was worried about driving the Scion FR-S.  I saw it and the BRZ displayed in Detroit at NAIAS 2012.  I have read the reviews that the major auto mags have done.  They all like it. 

Scion FR-S at NAIAS 2012
If you haven’t seen the correlation between the car and Buffy yet; stop reading now.

The FR-S/BRZ/GT-86 are a collaboration of Toyota and Subaru.  They are supposed to have a made an affordable, reliable “driver’s car.” Everyone says so.  What if I don’t have the talent to unlock the full driving experience in the FR-S?  What if I didn’t see what the rest of the industry saw?  Should I be looking for a new line of work?  Not yet.

Getting to the point; achievement unlocked.

I experienced the FR-S and saw on my own what everyone has been raving about.  The FR-S is the car that I wished I had as a teenager.  And parents, seriously consider this car for your teenagers. 

The look of this car is phenomenal.  The WW2 pin-up curves around the front and rear fenders.  Lines that sweep back to what looks like a Hip-Hop video “junk in the trunk” backside, turn out to be from The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift“It’s called Drifting.” If they remade that today, he’d say, “It’s called hooning.”
                The hood has an aggressive look to it as it slants down to the nose.  The grille’s got a gaping mouth, but nothing as horrible as a Mazda3’s front end.  The lines on the side are sharp and don’t have the Hyundai Genesis hiccup near the B-pillar window.
                As James May says, “This car makes me fizzy.” (Couldn’t find the actual quote, so you get this.) Its stance, the rear triangular reflector, the brake lights, the wheels, all of it adds up to not looking like a douche-canoe.  It’s one thing to rock a Civic Si that you’ve modded, and another to drive a stock FR-S that already looks good, for less money.  The Civic Si base is cheaper, but the mods are more expensive, since the FR-S doesn’t need the mods.

                The Interior is pretty nice for 25 grand.  The seats are racy and provide a lot of support.  The side bolsters helped keep me in place while I was whipping it through the corners.
                The instrument cluster is brilliant.  A huge white tachometer in the center with a digital speedometer surrounded by a black analog speedometer, fuel, and engine temperature gauges.  The white tach stands out and the bright red numbers on the digital speedo stand out against the white.  The trip computer is easy to adjust and reset. 
                My mom said if you can’t say anything nice then you shouldn’t say anything at all.  There is a stereo.  I tried, Mom.  The stock Pioneer is what the kids were all putting in their cars when I was in high school.  There is an $845 upgrade option.  It is the BeSpoke Premium Audio System.  Buy it.  Driving a brand new car at 30 with the same kind of stereo that you had when you were 17 is kind of depressing.
                The back seat is useless.  My most comfortable driving position had the seat against the front of the back seat.  There are two sets of LATCH hooks, but who’s that mean to their kids?  Poor kids will be yakking five minutes after you start whipping.  The front passenger has plenty of room though. 
                The trunk is functional and there is room for a respectable subwoofer and an amp.  Not a lot of extra space, but some.  An overnight bag would fit, but not two sets of golf clubs.
White Tachometer with digital Speedometer
                This car makes me believe that Buffy could be awesome. The FR-S showed me everything that I had read.  I don’t have to worry about not seeing what the rest of the auto writers saw.  I got all of the same analogies out of this car. I’ve tried to make sure I didn’t write any of them here, but accidents do happen. 
The FR-S is not a 10 second car, but it is brilliant.  It is the best example of the argument: “Slow cars driven fast vs. fast cars driven slow.”  The FR-S is slower than most sport coupes.  But those same coupes are not as much fun as the FR-S.  I was considering my down payment…
Corners were not an issue, and powering through the apexes was one of the more entertaining things that I’ve done lately.  I’ve driven a bunch of different cars in the last couple of weeks, but the FR-S seemed to free my soul…  (Man, that sounds “not straight.”)  It helps that it didn’t have a CVT, but a short shift six speed manual.
                The transmission is aggressive and lively, but the 2.0L Boxer four-cylinder engine only feels like it’s really pulling in the top half of the tach.  200 horses out of a 2.0L non-turbo engine, while average 30 mpg on the highway, is impressive.
The car only weighs 2,758 lbs. and feels light, but planted in the corners.  The steering was tight enough to not need a ton of movement to get it pointed where you wanted to go, but wasn’t so tight as to force you to put it in a ditch.  Yes, opposite lock can be achieved easily, but it can also be recovered with the same amount of effort.  Safe + fun = enlightening.
Once you take the traction control off and turn on the Sport button, the FR-S really shows you what it can do.  There was at least one donut, on purpose, and for the rest of the test drive, the FR-S was very controlled and reserved.

I now have to watch how many seasons of Buffy?  8?  12?  I don’t even know.  At least there’s now hope that it will be good.  I hear that this Joss Whedon guy has done some good stuff lately.  Maybe his old stuff is good too…

The FR-S is badass for 25 grand.  The thrust to weight ratio makes it a dynamic vehicle.  The fact that you’re looking at Toyota reliability mixed with Subaru safety and performance makes me want this car.  It’s a blast of a car that will last forever.  F.O.R.E.V.E.R.  We are going to see some Scion FR-S, Subaru BRZ, Toyota GT-86’s with 500,000 miles on them. 

I can’t wait till the turbo version gets here.  Until that’s a reality, the six speed FR-S will do.

Thank you to Molle Toyota for allowing me to borrow their FR-S for the purpose of creating this review.  They would like to sell you an FR-S.  I suggest buying one, if it fits your budget.  Contact them and they'll definitely help.

P.S. This is a departure from my normal style.  Let me know what you think.  Did you like it?  Is it the best or worst you've every read?  Be honest, leave a comment.

1 comment:

  1. Never got Buffy either. Like the new style of the writing with the video links. A book with pictures is better than one w/o any day! Great Car! -- Chad