2016 Scion FR-S
The 2016 Scion FR-S is what a genuine sports car is supposed to be.
First, let's note that Toyota is dropping its faltering "youth oriented" Scion brand for the 2017 model year, but will retain the sporty rear-wheel-drive FR-S with some interior and exterior changes and call it the "Toyota 86."
However, such things as new bumpers and five more horsepower for the oddly named "86" shouldn't discourage potential buyers of the FR-S (Front engine, Rear-wheel drive Sport) from considering this two-door hatchback coupe.
The FR-S is pretty much a twin to Subaru's differently styled BR-Z sports coupe. Subaru did most of the FR-S engineering, and Toyota did the FR-S interior and exterior.
Both use Subaru's rugged, compact 2-liter four-cylinder engine with horizontally opposed pistons. It develops 200 horsepower. That's a noteworthy 100 horsepower per liter without turbocharging. The engine's design lets it sit low for better handling in the FR-S.
The FR-S is quite nimble. It has track-style steering that's almost too quick for roads, scarcely any body roll when sweeping through curves and strong anti-lock brakes controlled by a firm brake pedal. Helping stability are 45-series tires on 17-inch alloy wheels and stability and traction controls.
However, the ride is rather firm, and one urban road section I encountered caused the car to bounce a little.
The FR-S engine is hooked to a short-throw six-speed manual transmission or a responsive six-speed automatic with paddle shifters. The list price with the manual is $25,305, while the automatic version stickers at $26,405.
New features for the 2016 FR-S include a standard audio eight-speaker system, 7-inch touch screen display, voice recognition technology and an integrated rearview backup camera. Also standard are items including air conditioning, tilt-telescopic wheel and power locks, windows and mirrors.
The low-slung FR-S has long, heavy doors and is a "drop-in/climb out" car with low seats. Getting in and out may prove tiresome even if you're nimble.
The attractive interior has easily used controls that don't need an owner's manual to figure out, and instruments can be quickly read. There's good room in supportive seats up front, but the rear seat is strictly for small children or pets. The rear seaback flips forward to enlarge the moderately spacious cargo area.
The FR-S is quick, doing 0-60 m.p.h. in 6.8 seconds, partly because the solidly built car is fairly light at 2,758-2,806 pounds. The aerodynamic FR-S easily cruises at 80 m.p.h. with little wind noise, but the high-r.p.m. engne is noisy when asked to work hard, as during fast passing maneuvers. Otherwise, the interior is quiet
Premium fuel is called for, but estimated fuel economy is decent at 22 miles per gallon the city and 30 on highways with the manual gearbox and 25 and 34 with the automatic, which was in my 2016 test car. (I drove the FR-S with a manual about a year ago.)
Checking oil and other fluid levels under the hood is easy, except you must deal with an awkward prop rod to keep the hood open.
The FR-S functions best as a young driver's car or as a second family "fun car."