A Belated Thanksgiving Turkey – The Scion FR-S

This post originally appeared here, as part of Hooniverse’s Thanksgiving Turkey series.

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 Oh yes I did. 

The FR-S wins my vote as a Hooniverse Thanksgiving Turkey becuase Scion came so close, but fell so short.  These are heady days when it comes to performance numbers.  Automakers are stuffing enough horses into cars these days to make the muscle cars of the ’60s look like a bunch of Shriner cars.  The FR-S?   Not so much.

Power: 200 hp @ 7000 rpm
Torque: 151 lb-ft @ 6600 rpm

Not exactly earth-shattering numbers.  151 lb-ft of torque?  Compare that to an ordinary Toyota Camry at 268 lb-ft.  Those numbers add up to a 6 second 0-60 time and 15.7 second 1/4 mile times.  The Camry? Autoweek was able to squeeze out a 14.7 second 1/4 mile out of the V6 model.  Those numbers make me think the FR-S would be a great secretary car. 

The FR-S I drove was black with an automatic transmission, which admittedly turned me even more against the car.  It had paddle shifters on the steering wheel which, even though I gave them input about when I wanted to shift, seemed to have a 2 or 3 second delay in communicating my whims to the transmission. 

On the plus side, the car behaves great.  It turns well, it is relatively sure-footed, and it’s fun to push.  You know what they say, it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than to drive a fast car slow.  One thing I’ve seen lauded over and over in reviews is the car’s playful oversteer at the limit, which is certainly fun.  However, to me, Scion didn’t have a car with impressive capabilities, so they lowered its limits by installing not-very-grippy Prius tires.  Neat trick, Scion.  Our own Jeff Glucker proved the ineffectiveness of those tires by doing some clutch-drop donuts (in the dirt) in his video review.  His review was much more glowing than mine.  (I’ll probably get fired for dissent.)

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 Another item I disliked about the FR-S was how Scion-y it is.  (Note:  My personal car for the last 5 years was a first-gen Scion xB, so I am well-versed on Scion-y.) The interior feels very cheap.  Ugly cloth seats, red stitching in the seats no matter what color the exterior of the car is, a sea of plastic, and plenty of road noise all add up to a distinct feeling that you are in a cheap car.  The problem is, it’s not all that cheap.  The price point is around $25k.  For that much, you could step into a Mini Cooper S or a Volvo C30.  Neither of those are direct competitors…or are they? 

As I understand it, the 200 hp number is intentional, as are the two pretend rear seats in the FR-S.  Those two details will help make the car more insurable.  The car is aimed squarely at the 20-something buyer, who can use all the help they can get when it comes to insurance rates. 

So to recap, Scion made a nice looking little coupe that has unimpressive performance, looks good, is fun to drive, and feels cheap. 

As I am wont to say, “It’s good for who it’s for.”

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