2013 Scion 10 FR-S
2013 Scion 10 FR-S
2013 Scion 10 FR-S
2013 Scion 10 FR-S. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Jacob Black

The FR-S 10 Series is exactly what one might expect from a meeting of minds between an engineering department and a marketing team. It hits the “Fast and Furious” target market head on with flashy styling then follows through with razor-sharp handling, a proper front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout and a decent engine in a lightweight body.

Already a cult favourite among the street crowd, the FR-S doesn’t just look the goods, it is the goods.

The FR-S and its Subaru cousin are both seriously good looking cars, and in 10th Anniversary grey with the 17-inch aluminum tires on it the little Scion looks like a street fighter. The wide grille, raked LED running lamps and cooling-duct openings screech aggression.

Its aggressive stance, compact wheelbase and long-bonnet/short-boot combination make for a seriously sporty looking coupe. And sporty it is. The front suspension is a MacPherson strut setup with a stabilizer bar to lower body roll, and the rear is a double-wishbone setup with another stabilizer for good measure.

The steering is precise and the feedback from the front end is excellent, but the rear is not as connected. Scion references the low, flat boxer engine as its key to achieving “Pure Balance”. At 53:47 front:rear they come pretty close – but the setup and tuning of the suspension makes this little scalpel twitchy and nervous at the back end.

With “only” 200 hp at 7,000 rpm and 151 lb-ft of torque at 6,600 there is room for more power, but when the whole rig weighs just 1,251 kg (1,273 kg in automatic trim) you get off the line plenty quickly. But that power is not really sufficient to trigger the lary power-slides and sweet doriffftuuu action so lusted after by the Scion’s street-racer demographics; enter the marketing team!

“Hey, so why don’t we just make it easier to do power slides some other way?” says marketing genius No.1.

“Ha! Yeah right! What do you want us to do? Put rubbish tires on it?” chortles the engineer.

“Sounds good!” says marketing genius No.2.

2013 Scion 10 FR-S2013 Scion 10 FR-S2013 Scion 10 FR-S
2013 Scion 10 FR-S. Click image to enlarge

And that’s how I came to be facing sideways on this four-lane major arterial road.  With my daughter and fiancée aboard, in torrential rain, and despite taking it easy across the intersection, the FR-S snapped loose on me and I had a half spin. It was innocuous and I didn’t hit anything, but it demonstrated 1: That the FR-S must be respected, and that 2: The tires on this thing are rubbish. For reference, I’d spent the week previous being far more silly in a far more powerful Mustang GT in similar conditions, and never once broke loose. At the time of this slide I was cresting a crown in the road, in second gear, at less than 2,000 rpm, and never had warning from the traction control – it simply broke. My advice? Put good tires on ASAP.

In fairness, this is what the buyers of this car want. They want a car that’s fun and challenging to drive, a car with point-and-shoot steering in a tunable and exciting package – and that’s what this car is. I had so much fun driving it I had to buy flowers for my fiancée three times that week!

And Scion aren’t shy about that tire issue either. The boot has been designed specifically to hold four wheels wrapped in track-day rubber. Because they know that to extract all of the speed from this car (and my God is there a lot there to extract) you need the stickiest of black stuff. In a perfect world you’d have adjustable suspension, so you could ratchet down the ride height and maybe increase the softness in the back; but let’s be serious, this is a hell of a lot of car for less than $30K!  Plus there are examples out there producing 420+ hp, so there is plenty of potential in the 2.0L boxer engine.

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