2013 Scion FR-S AT Road Trip Review
The 2013 Scion FR-S is a beloved car for us here at Autobytel. I can remember when the rear drive sports car was only an online rumor that went by the name Toyobaru and promised to ignite a healthy dose of fun into what had become quite a conservative lineup from the Japanese automaker. After a year of sales success, the Scion FR-S has not only amassed a huge following and took over the world’s largest aftermarket showcase but it literally set the drifting world on fire in Sin City.
So when we asked for a ride to get us from Miami to the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona it was a treat to find out that we would be driving an FR-S for the 500+ mile road trip along Florida’s east coast. At this point there was only one thing to worry about: whether or not the car would be an automatic. After exercising the FR-S’s six-speed gearbox by way of paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, as well as a more traditional stick on the racetrack, it can be said that we prefer the latter. So it would be hard to say that we weren’t ever so slightly disappointed.
No matter what transmission sits between the front seats, one thing that is certain about any Scion FR-S is that this little sports car is a looker. Not only did I catch one octogenarian checking out the FR-S’s rear haunches through the front window of the IHOP we stopped at for coffee and strawberry pancakes on our way up the Florida Turnpike heading for Daytona, once in the capital of NASCAR country, the stares kept on coming. While navigating our way towards the Turn One tunnel towards the infield where the Scion would rest for the remainder of our stay inside speed city, the FR-S not only received compliments from the man checking our media credentials but it stopped every sixteen year old boy in their tracks while their jaws rested about three inches lower than normal. Quite impressive considering that the FR-S is merely an affordable 200 HP sports car surrounded by some of the most beautiful and powerful racecars on the planet.
About six hours into the race twice ‘round the clock, shortly after the sun had set and temperatures began to drop, we had a pit stop of our own back at the FR-S for sweatshirts and Gatorade. About three seconds after popping the trunk the young gentleman napping in the dually parked alongside asked “What kind of car is that?” before reporting that every person he noticed walking by the car not only stopped to admire the Scion’s sharp lines, but also circled the sport compact a few times before pressing their noses on the glass for a better look inside. Our new neighbor then inquired whether or not this Toyobaru thing was wearing some sort of aftermarket body kit, which I was happy to inform him was not. Before heading back out amongst the natives in the Geico Caveman campground, the fellow tailgating right behind the Scion suggested that I forget the race and just focus on selling tickets to the people looking at our car.
While the racing capital of the world might be Daytona, Florida’s roads aren’t exactly a driver's dream. The Sunshine State’s long flat stretches of asphalt certainly don’t evoke the same kind of excitement as say, a mountain road in Southern California, however this worked to our Scion’s advantage when your biggest concern is obeying the speed limit and the highest you’ll climbing is up an overpass. There’s no need to be driving like Ken Gushi; it was almost as if the flappy-paddle gearbox acted like a electronically controlled nanny that kept us in line throughout the duration of our road trip. That, and your left knee will never suffer while sitting in traffic.
The FR-S is already in need of an extra 50 HP; the automatic only strengthens the case for a turbocharged boxer up front. If you hit the gas while coming out of a turn, a place where the rear drive FR-S should shine, it seems like the transmission almost hesitates before grabbing the next gear in hopes for a bit more grunt. Whereas in a turbo version, the engine would start to whistle as your backside becomes firmly pressed against the seat and the rear wheels would help to push you around the corner, leaving nothing but a smile stretching from ear to ear instead of a Charlie Brown face.