Scion FR-S Delivers A Walk Off Home Run As A True Driver’s Car
On a bright sunny day in Parump, Nevada at Spring Valley Motorsport Park we got the opportunity to take the highly anticipated 2013 Scion FR-S out for a spin and boy did it deliver. Also known as the Toyota GT-86 elsewhere in the world, Toyota/Scion have built a car that goes back to the basics and provides enormous fun at a very reasonable price.
Toyota’s main goal in choosing a powerplant for their new FR-Sports car was obtaining efficient, reliable performance. The development concept of the FR-S was to build a sports car built around the driver and making the car fun to drive took more of a priority than pursuing pure speed.
Everyone knows that the Scion FR-S isn’t the most powerful car out on the market, so the horsepower figures will sound rather unimpressive to many. However, according to the engineers, it was far more important for the car to feel responsive and have linear power delivery all the way up to redline speeds.
Led by Toyota GT86/Scion FR-S Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada, the joint Toyota and Subaru engineering team code named “Team 86” certainly lived up to its goals. Working together, they developed the Subaru FA20 2.0 liter 4-cylinder boxer engine, marking the first time that Toyota’s D-4S direct injection technology had ever been incorporated into a boxer motor.
The result of Team 86′s hard work was a light weight, 200hp naturally aspirated DOHC 16 valve engine with dual variable valve timing (VVTi). The 4UGSE engine redlines at 7400rpm, and responds quickly to accelerator inputs, with easy powerband control.
Usage of the 4UGSE boxer engine gives the Scion FR-S the benefit of amazing handling, due to a low center of gravity. The Scion FR-S has a lower center of gravity than the Porsche Cayman, Nissan R35 GTR, Subaru Impreza STi, and Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. In fact, only the LFA and the Ferrari 360 have a lower center of gravity than the FR-S at 18.9 inches.
“Super low center of gravity, better than a GTR, better than a Porsche Cayman, in fact comparable to some of the Ferrari models, but basically this car is about bringing passion back to driving. An authentic rear wheel drive car, that produces 200 hp out of a 2.0L engine,” said Jack Hollis, Vice President and General Manager of Scion. “The 100 hp per liter is a key number for us. You see just the right amount, not over, not under, right amount of power, great balance and great handling.”
Hollis also adds, “What it does is this car answers a concern in the industry today, that the vehicles have just become so electronic, so technology-based, not just true driver-based. That’s what this car does. We think it’s going to excite the whole industry not just Scion and Toyota so we are really excited about the Scion FR-S.”
What the low center of gravity does for you is make you feel very connected to the road when you are pushing the car to the limits. The center of gravity is in line with your hips, so, as the car moves around you truly feel the dynamics of the car in the seat of your pants, rather than the car feeling as though it has a much higher pivot point that most people are used to.
What is also obvious is that the Scion FR-S pays homage to it’s heritage, particularly to the 1985-’87 Corolla GT-S – or AE86 as it is known by enthusiasts. The 86 theme is prevalent throughout the vehicle. Mechanically, the two cars share nothing. Spiritually, however, their similarities run deep. There are powerful reason why the humble AE86 remains a highly coveted machine nearly 30 years after entering production. These reasons have nothing to do with the car’s speed, its amenities or its complexity. Rather, it’s the 86’s fundamentally sound design, low cost, and massive potential that give it profound desirability as its third decade approaches. It’s these simple, potent core values on which Scion intend to capitalize with the Scion FR-S.
The 86 Boxer badge on the fender shows pistons on opposing sides of the 86, to signify that it’s boxer engine under the hood. The number 86 is also symbolic of the engine’s square 86×86 bore and stroke ratio. Most Toyota aficionados may not even know this but this square ratio keeps the 4UGSE engine faithful to some of the other engines in Toyota’s 2.0 liter sports engine history. Also, an additional homage to the 86 theme, the inner diameter of the car’s exhaust tips are 86 mm!
The engine has Toyota D-4S fuel-injection system which is both port fuel injection and direct fuel injection at the same time. This allows are really high compression ratio of 12.5:1 which means the FR-S requires premium fuel but that’s a small price to pay.
If there’s one disappointment about this car, it is with torque. The 2.0 liter engine only produces 151 torques at a very high 6400 rpm. Now very few people talk about torque. It’s important because when you get into some slow corners, and you really need a drive out especially if you’re not popping it off the rev…, torque is what will propel you at that point. Though, on the road track, the lack of torque was not really a factor.
On the inside, the FR-S interior is definitely minimalistic. Sitting inside, it’s impossible not to notice the sporty seats and steering wheel. They are comfortable and the substantial side bolstering helps keep the driver in place on a spirited drive. The tach is right front and center, dominating the instrument cluster.
Steering input is good. However, a wish would be for a bit more feedback and communication. It is electric steering, though one of the better electric steerings that we’ve experienced. We must say that it’s very direct. If you turn the wheel, that’s where the car is going and it points really, really well.
Toyota is planning to produce 10,000 units of the Scion FR-S for the 2012 calendar year and plans on 20,000 units for 2013. If you’re writing a wish list or a spec sheet of what you want in a car, the Scion FR-S pretty much does it all. What we like most about the car is that you can have the fun at under triple digit speeds. It doesn’t have 500 hp and it’s not going to do 1.05 Gs around a skid pad, and we don’t care! With the Scion FR-S, you actually have to drive! The FR-S being very analog will not cover up your inability to drive with electronics like so many modern cars. If you make a mistake, it will be obvious, however, the car being perfectly balanced makes it easy to get it all back under control, if you know what you are doing.
Bottom line, the Scion FR-S is a drivers car, period!