BORING NO MORE
Base prices start at $25,255.
Mileage ranges from 22 MPG city to 34 MPG highway.
What it is: A genuine sports coupe from Toyota’s low-priced “youth” division.
What’s worth knowing: If you think the Scion brand could use some excitement, parent company Toyota agrees with you. Thus the FR-S, a new addition to the small club of track-worthy racers for less than $30,000. Toyota developed the car in conjunction with Subaru, which sells it as the BRZ.
Who it’s for: Young hot-shots who crave pavement and don’t care about the many tradeoffs imposed by a sports coupe.
What’s good: With rear-wheel drive and other performance technology, the FR-S delivers the buzz that Scion is after. It’s not a rocket, in the manner of a muscle car, but a crisp all-around grinmaker that devours curves and holds its own on straightaways.
What’s bad: The two-person “rear seat” barely holds a couple of backpacks. There’s no comfort mode to relieve the harsh road feel that clatters up through the steering wheel. The trunk is puny. In other words, all the usual drawbacks of a car built for fun, not practicality.
Notable features: A zesty 200-horsepower four-cylinder engine that generates a lot of juice for a relatively small car; short-throw 6-speed manual transmission on base model, which amplifies the car’s responsive feel.
How it stacks up: The FR-S, like its sibling the BRZ, is a top competitor among affordable sports cars. The Mazda Miata, while smaller, is a bit more refined. The Volkswagen GTI and Mazdaspeed 3 are roomier. The Nissan 370Z is a higher-caliber performer, but also more expensive. The Hyundai Veloster is cheaper, but not nearly as powerful.
What to do if you want one: Beware intoxication. Anybody who loves sporty motoring will appreciate the FR-S. Just make sure you can live with its impractical downsides.