Ever since the Scion FR-S/Toyota GT86/Subaru BRZ was announced, we’ve been drooling over it. It’s like a more beautiful, more powerful Toyota MR2. Or a less powerful Porsche Cayman. Either way, it’s in a category of its own.
Finally, thanks to two local Toyota dealerships, we drove it.
What was it Like?
In a word, engaging.
When you climb into the cockpit, the racing seats wrap you up. The dashboard is all about you. You’re hunkered down tight, and the car is communicating to you that you’re in for quite the ride.
Take off down the road and it’s immediately apparent that it’s rev-happy. Redlining at 7500 RPM isn’t something most of us are used to. The short-throw shifter and its short shifts begged to be driven spiritedly. It’s not ridiculously fast at 200hp, but it’s certainly not underpowered. The direct-injected revving machine is sufficient to burn out in first gear, and chirp in second. No complaints there.
And then the handling! This alone deserves its own paragraph.
The FR-S has .2 inches lower center of gravity than a Porsche Cayman. That means it bites into the road like a Cayman. Quick jerks of the wheel at speed don’t upset it. It sticks to the road and the stock racing seats hold you in with aplomb. Take a curve with too much speed, and you quickly realize you could have taken it faster.
You can turn off the traction control (not recommended), or set it into sport mode. Sport lets the tires break loose just enough, and then snaps you right back.
Manual or Automatic?
These cars have very few options. You can upgrade the stereo, or apply a clear bra. The biggest choice you face, though, is do you go stick or paddle shifters. We drove them both.
The gears are taller in automatic, and so much less exciting. The paddles were less responsive than we’d hoped on the downshift. You can’t access neutral or reverse from them. They felt like they were there to be cool, and not to enhance the driving experience. Even in the automatic, the gear shifter looks like a stick shift. That feels like a real poser douchebag accessory. The only consolation is that, due to the taller gears, you get a couple extra MPG.
One salesman even told me, “You don’t have fun until 3rd gear in this auto.” Basically, you would be doing yourself a disservice to get the automatic if you’re reading this.
If you’re looking for a punchy drive that feels like it’s on rails, powered by a high-revving, direct-injected NA powerplant pushing the rear wheels of a gorgeous body, you’ll love the FR-S. On top of all that, you can drive it out for $25k. Not freaking bad! I’m sold.
Would you buy one? Let us know in the comments!