By now you’ve probably read Scott’s story about his trip to Japan to testdrive the Toyota 86 (known as the Scion FR-S stateside), but if you haven’t you must have heard some of the FR-S buzz from the last year or so from us and everyone else. And if you still don’t know what I’m talking about then you really must be sleeping under a rock, or maybe you don’t have Internet access, or maybe you’re just not really into cars and you stumbled upon this magazine for our scantily clad models (yes, it worked!). This is the one of the most anticipated cars to hit our scene since the R35 in 2009—possibly even more since the FR-S is within the grasp of many of us.
Why is this car so anticipated, you ask? Not since the 240SX has a rear-wheel-drive car under $25K come out of Japan. And a less expensive car means that you have more money to put toward aftermarket upgrades. On top of all that, the FR-S derives its roots and design from the Toyota Corolla AE86 (hence the Japanese name), Japan’s first supercar the Toyota 2000GT, and the Toyota Sports 800 (which also came with a boxer engine). Toyota hasn’t released a sports car in a long time (minus the LFA that no normal person can afford), let alone a compact sports car that is so very uncommon these days. Toyota has had a legacy with sports cars from the RA22 Celica to the JZA80 Supra, and it was just a matter of time until they gave us another rear-wheel-drive toy to play with.
Getting into the car for the first time, I’ve got to say all the hype is underplayed. It is a very fun car to drive. It’s more than easy to toss around; the steering, track width, and wheelbase give it a delightful nimbleness. Luckily for us, we had over 10 FR-S cars to play with at Spring Mountain Motor Resort. Scion somehow thought it was a good idea to let me (don’t tell them about my 10-plus car accidents) push the car on the road course, autocross, and even attempt to drift the car on the skidpad with Ken Gushi.
With only 200 hp, the FR-S isn’t going to slam you into your seat. But honestly, isn’t that what aftermarket tuning is for? And isn’t that the fun of this hobby? The great thing about the FR-S is that it only weighs 2,700 pounds. With new cars getting bigger and bigger everyday (a Civic is now the size of an Accord, much like a Corolla is now the size of an older Camry), it’s a marvel that the FR-S is only 2,700 pounds. Power-to-weight ratio on this car is superb, making the car incredibly agile. I can’t think of another car that light with 200 hp from the factory.
Inside the car the front seats hold you like a baby—very sporty and very comfortable. It’s a great all-around seat for both the street and the occasional canyon carver. One thing I really liked was the BeSpoke Premium head unit; this allowed for aux input as well as streaming Pandora through the Bluetooth hookup from my iPhone—so much better than any live radio station. Rear seats are great for people with no legs, although they do fold down to nicely hold an extra set of wheels and tires for a weekend track day. One more thing I prefer about the Scion is that the center console controls are simple and clean.
In the future, I can easily see this car making it big in the aftermarket tuning world, most likely with drifting but also in road racing and drag racing as well. Even simply as a show car it would work, the styling is streamlined and classy. Get yours now or get one later, this car will be around for a long time.
Behind the Car
Output: 200 hp at 7,000 rpm, 151 lb-ft of torque at 6,600 rpm
MPG: 22/30 (manual), 25/34 (automatic)
Weight: 2,758 pounds (manual), 2,806 pounds (automatic)
Weight ratio: 53/47
Engine FA20 2.0L Subaru boxer four-cylinder engine; Toyota D-4S direct injection; 12.5:1 compression ratio
Drivetrain RA62 six-speed manual or A960E six-speed automatic (with paddle shifters); Torsen LSD; traction control and VSC
Suspension MacPherson front struts; double wishbone rear suspension
Brakes ABS; 11.65-inch front rotors and 11.46-inch rear rotors
Exterior I personally prefer this front bumper opposed to the other counterparts. The foglights are a must.
Interior black fabric bucket seats with red stitching on seats and door panels
Audio BeSpoke Premium audio system with Bluetooth capabilities, Pandora streaming, 3.5mm aux-in and USB port