A lot has been written about the 2013 Scion FR-S, which resulted from Toyota’s partnering up with Subaru and Akio Toyoda’s directive “to make driving their cars fun again.”
Though my opinion is just one of many on the delightful little sports car, I think Scion fulfilled that directive exactly as intended. From it’s stunning looks through its scintillating performance, the 2013 Scion FR-S is perfect for the young man or woman first entering the world of sports cars.
One of my RMAP colleagues insists Subaru got the best of the deal and bought the corresponding BR-Z instead, but admits he’s been back and forth with the dealer to tweak this and that so everything would function properly.
Subaru makes great cars well suited to Colorado, but if Toyota built cars that kept coming back to the dealer, they would not be the automotive giant they are today. Some critics say the Scion FR-S is underpowered, bringing up the question underpowered for what?
These same pundits would probably say the 2013 Mustang GT500, the embodied dream of designer Carroll Shelby, is also underpowered with only 662 horses.
The first sports car I drove was a 1961 Sunbeam Alpine with a 1600-cc four-cylinder, high compression engine, which made my 18th summer a Technicolor dream.
I doubt this car had over 100 horsepower, but that experience helped prepare for the opportunity to drive a 1971 E-Type convertible, featuring Jaguars stunning and finicky, six carburetor V12 engine a few years later.
When hovercraft or space cruisers come on the market, do you really want to drive the Betelgeuse Supercruiser or the Moon Slider first? Put another way, the question is: Do you want to learn how to manage power or just crash and burn because you didn’t?
Most of the wrecks on the Autobahn are individuals in high-powered exotic cars that lose control and splatter across some immobile object. That’s why most brands at least make available professional racetrack instruction when you buy one of those supercars.
In my estimation, the 2013 Scion FR-S has exactly the right amount of power from its 2.0-liter, 16-valve, 4-cylinder Boxer engine that produces 200 horsepower in a small, if gorgeous car with a engine up front and the drive wheels in back.
When I learned to drive, it was not a good thing to have the rear wheels slide – we called it fishtailing and basically it meant you needed new tires or something even more costly.
Today’s enthusiasts have adopted power slides or drifting as something cool and fun to do.
Though it’s not the quite same thing, I recall hydroplaning across four lanes of I-25 South in my 1975 Vega GT during a rainstorm, many years ago. The feeling of the loss of traction on all four wheels was mildly disturbing to me, but my date that evening never crossed my threshold again- she was absolutely terrified!
Fortunately, there was absolutely no traffic on the road this particular night (imagine that) and after drifting on all four wheels – from the far right lane to the far left lane, just north of downtown – I managed to regain control and continue on safely.
The Bikers have a saying: “Never ride faster than your guardian angel can fly.” Having always been a conscientious driver, whenever I’ve slipped that guardian was always nearby.
So during my test drive, I happened to pick up a guy from CADA who is really into racing, and is currently going to great lengths to modify the hood of his old Nissan to fit a blower onto the engine. He so wanted to go for a ride in the Scion FR-S, so we took it for a short spin to show him its spirited essence.
Sitting in the passenger seat, he casually pushed the VSC button beside the hand brake, just before I dropped him off. I had been so happy just getting to know the car and cruising around in it, I hadn’t even given the button much thought. Of course, VSC stands for Vehicle Stability Control and if you are into drifting you need to turn that system off.
So proceededing to Fifth Avenue and Broadway, I stopped to wait for traffic to clear. When I turned into the far left lane of Broadway from Fifth Avenue, I was both startled and delighted to discover the rear end had slid two feet to the right in the process.
That’s something I’d only learned to do on slick surfaces at the Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat Springs, also years ago.
So that’s what all the fuss is about, I thought to myself. Now I understand – you just have to be willing to replace tires more often, something that never made sense to me.
Though I have an undying love for sports cars, it’s actually based on the love of the open road and convertibles – not racetracks, though that is great fun too.
I love serpentine highways and a car the eats them up – for someone just finding their love for this kind of driving or the track style, either one, the FR-S is a brilliant introduction.
There’s still plenty of time for all the other cars later. Who knows maybe you’ll start with the beautiful 2013 Scion FR-S and work your way up to a Aston Martin, Bentley, Bugatti, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati or Porsche, before the autonomous and electric car movements take all this into the history books.
I’ve been straining your eyes long enough, so I’ll cut to the chase.
You can buy this reliable ride, that will make you think you are driving the sports car of your dreams right now, for just under $25K.
In three, years if your lifetrack permits, you can move up a notch towards whatever you ultimately desire.
Nevertheless, like my time in the Sunbeam Alpine, you will always remember the time you spent in the scintillating 2013 Scion FR-S.
The only thing I did not like about it, was like many true sports cars, the FR-S sits low to the ground. I loved driving it, loved the way people looked at it and loved showing it off to my friends, but when it came time to get out of it, it was a chore to pull my old bones out of the little car.
If you fit the demographic this marvelous creation is aimed at, I don’t think you’ll mind that at all.