Despite its reasonable price (it starts at $24,200 with the manual gearbox and $25,300 with the automatic), the FR-S is a true sporting machine, a real funster. It's blessed with excellent driving dynamics, thanks in part to its suspension design and the fore-to-aft weight balance afforded by its rear-drive layout.
As a consequence, the FR-S proved a lot of fun to throw around on a back road. The car stayed flat in ambitious corners, exhibiting little body lean, and turned in promptly for those spirited changes in course. The steering is, indeed, another plus. Most electric power steering systems are pretty numb, but this one passes along a decent amount of road feel. It's also very precise, and requires just the right amount of steering effort.
Braking also earns a 4.0 grade-point average. The brake discs are vented, and pretty large for a car with this little body fat - it weighs only a tad over 2,700 pounds. This means the curtain comes down on cruising very quickly if it has to. These binders also please with a firm pedal that's readily modulated.
Motivation is courtesy of a 2-liter four whose diminutive lungs exhale 200 horsepower, thanks, in large part, to the munificence of direct fuel injection. While the FR-S is no stoplight serial killer, its 200 horses and low body weight make for reasonably brisk motoring. The tester, equipped with a six-speed automatic gearbox and a Torsen limited-slip differential, got from 0 to 60 in about 6.5 seconds. That's fast enough to be fun.
The FS-R's engine is unusual in that it is horizontally opposed. That means the cylinders lie on their sides, half of them on each side of the crankshaft. This "boxer" design makes for a structurally sound engine, and lowers its center of gravity. That, in turn, lowers the vehicle's center of gravity and enhances handling.
Given its sporting impulses, the FR-S fielded quite acceptable EPA mileage ratings of 25 city and 34 highway.
My only gripe with this engine, and, indeed, the car, was the way it sounded off. Most fours get buzzy when you floor them, but this one was downright noisy. It was fine in normal driving, however.
The FR-S turned out to be the most fun I've had in a Toyota product in a while. I also found the styling interesting. I liked the rather predatory grille opening and the treatments around the wheel openings. This FR-S sheet metal is sporty business, but it aptly pulls up short of boy racer.
The interior was fresh and evinced a nice sensibility. The driving position was excellent and the saddle-stitched seats were comfortable and well bolstered. As for the backseat, it is best forgotten. Like most 2+2 coupes, the FR-S has rear seating worthy of a Jay Leno monologue. Set the driver's seat for someone over six feet and rear legroom disappears completely.
2013 Scion FR-S
Base price: $25,300.
As tested: $26,085 (including shipping).
Standard equipment: 2-liter engine, six-speed automatic transmission, rear-drive, limited-slip differential, and an ample amenity array, ranging from a full litany of safety devices to alloy wheels, aluminum sport pedals and chrome dual exhausts.
Fuel economy: 25 mp.g. city and 34 highway.
Engine performance: Lively enough.
Warranty: Three years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper.
The Ben Key: Four Bens, excellent; three Bens, good; two Bens, fair; one Ben, poor.
Contact Al Haas at email@example.com.