2016 Scion FRS – Short Term Review
The 2016 Scion FRS at a glance
The 2016 Scion FRS has been Hailed as the triumphant return of the affordable sports car when it was first released back in 2012. Snapping up awards from Best Car of the Year 1 and People’s Choice Performance Car Under $100k 2 and rounding it out as an IIHS’ Top Safety Pick 3 I was excited to see how the hype stacked up on the road. With the introduction of the 2016 edition, Scion continues to be a key player in the category. I’ve been driving the new 2016 Scion FRS around town in Edmonton to give you some insights on the new model.
The Scion FRS came at a time when Toyota was looking to kick-start its passion within its lineup. Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota and grandson of the company’s founder was quoted asking “Where is the passion in our lineup? I want to build a sports car.” While some of us here at Sherwood Park Toyota are on the fence regarding which of the old models the FRS is intended to replace – we’re reminded of the Toyota Corolla AE86 released in 1983 as a rear wheel drive and light bodied racer. When it comes to looks however, the silhouette of the FRS pulls cues from the original Toyota GT2000 with a stocky tail end and elongated hood for a look loved by many.
A cooperative project between Subaru and Toyota, the Scion FRS is powered by Subaru’s boxer engine that cranks 200 horsepower at 7,000RPM and 151 pound-feet of torque while mated with Toyotas D-4S port and direct injection system. A unique combination, the project holds the title of the world’s only boxer engine in a front-engine, rear-wheel drive configuration. Putting them together, you’ll arrive at the background for the naming of the FRS defined as Front engine, Rear-wheel drive, Sports. Packaged together with a chassis built for quick and stable response, a curb weight just shy of 2,800 and a tail-happy rear wheel drive configuration, the Scion FRS is a real driver’s car.
Over the length of our review I found the 2016 Scion FRS to be a blast driving in and around Edmonton. The lowered stance of the vehicle paired together with a low seating position of only 400mm and dual sway bars keeps you smiling when punching it in the corners all while reducing body role and increasing control. With that, control is what makes this car a real winner. The FRS offers a choice of Variable Stability Control (VSC) options based on what you’re looking for in a driving style. In Standard mode you’ll find the car’s stability control likes to engage in the corners if the rear wheels slip ever so slightly – delivering safety and assurance when you want it. Staying true to a more dynamic driving feel that you’d expect from a rear-wheel sports car, VSC Sport mode allows for some play by allowing some sideways play around the bends, but cuts some power if you slide a little too far. If you’re an experienced driver, you can switch stability control fully off to see how tail-happy the FRS really is – especially paired with the low-profile tires that give it the perfect freedom to drift. Tied directly to the bends and curves, the steering input is also a real winner in the car. I found that the Scion’s electric steering delivered exceptional feedback with instant response, a feel for the road surface, and overall control that’s far from numb. Bringing this all together is exactly what makes the FRS a fun, dynamic, and responsive car. If you’re looking for a straight-line, quarter mile record breaking car, the Scion FRS isn’t for you; it doesn’t hide that fact either – however, if you’re looking for car that can hang onto speed in the corners, flirt with the edge on your terms and gives you the utmost feeling of connectivity of a well-balanced machine, the FRS is your go-to.
Inside you’ll find a cozy cabin that reflects the outside demeanor. The front sport seats are aggressively bolstered to give you a locked-in feel with the car. Ample leg room and headroom give more than enough space for the average person and was a great fit even for myself coming in at 6’4 with no compromise on comfort. The gauge cluster layout is clean and easy to read with both an analogue and digital speedometer plus bezels that illuminate even during the day to offer exceptional readability. Nice touches like a leather-wrapped steering wheel, auto windows and lights. To the centre you’ll find a 7” touchscreen infotainment system with backup camera keep you up to date on the tech frontier. The infotainment system is easy to use, clear-cut and offers responsive Bluetooth connectivity and navigation. Climate control is straightforward with output choice, fan speed and temperature, although we wish the bezels were made out of metal. The 2+2 seating arrangement allows for extra space, and with rear folding seats the Scion FRS is surprisingly roomy for cargo. We tested the FRS with three and four passengers and while it’s possible, trips with more than two adult passengers are likely to stick within Edmonton and area. When comparing the Scion FRS’ interior to others in its class the Scion holds its own. Meant to be a sports car first and foremost means you won’t find premium features compared to your mid-level car or crossover, but as a driver the cockpit is well laid-out to deliver a seamless connection to the gauge cluster, infotainment system and shifter.
I loved driving the Scion FRS for the length of this short-term review. We found we kept coming back to it with an enthusiasm to see how it responds under a ton of different conditions. And that’s really the key with the FRS, you can find and flirt with the limits while not being reckless, giving you a car that really relays fun as the primary objective. Anyone will be sure to love driving around the twisties over the rest of Autumn and I’ll get back with all the details over the first few snowfalls.