When the Scion FR-S first hit the scene in 2013 alongside its Subaru BRZ platform twin it had been several years since sports car fans had been presented with such a back-to-basics proposition. Offering a balanced chassis, adequate but not overwhelming power, and a relatively lightweight design as compared to its contemporaries, the Scion FR-S tapped into a vein of enthusiasm that had yet to be exploited by the youth-oriented automaker.
The 2015 edition of the Scion FR-S sees a mild refresh address some of car's quirkier driving characteristics as well as update its styling in the subtlest of ways. Let's take a look at 10 things you need to know about the 2015 Scion FR-S.
You'll have to squint hard to see the visual differences between the 2015 Scion FR-S and the 2014 edition of the car - or take a gander at the order sheet - but they are there. The easiest change to spot is at the rear, where Scion has given the FR-S beefier exhaust tips poking out from under the rear bumper, and there are a pair of new colors (silver and white, although more fancifully named in the brochure) to replace last year's similar hues. Finally, the Scion FR-S' passenger compartment features somewhat different carbon fiber-look trim, a nod to Scion's decision to swap suppliers of this particular garnish.
Once behind the wheel, it's possible to experience the most dramatic difference between the 2015 Scion FR-S and its predecessors. Scion has decided to re-tune the FR-S coupe's suspension system in order to dial out what was felt to be an abundance of oversteer in certain driving situations, an engineering choice that the company describes as improving the car's overall stability at higher speeds. You'll notice it most when cornering with the throttle pinned, as the FR-S is now less willing to step its rear end out of line and instead holds tighter to the tarmac than it did on its initial release.
It's status quo under the hood of the 2015 Scion FR-S, which means a return of the coupe's 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The motor's 'boxer' layout means that its cylinders are horizontally opposed, giving it a shorter profile and allowing it to be placed lower in the car's chassis in order to improve on the vehicle's center of gravity. Output is listed at 200 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque, numbers that won't win many stoplight drag races but which feel well matched to the character of the Scion FR-S and its ability to evoke an era when handling and road feel were prized over outright acceleration.
In keeping with its traditional outlook on driving pleasure, the 2015 Scion FR-S is perhaps best experienced when ordered with its six-speed manual transmission. This unit is standard with the coupe, but for those who don't want to handle the gear shifting duties on their own it's also possible to order the car with a six-speed automatic (that brings with it paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel, as well as an automatic rev-matching feature when selecting a lower cog). There's a fuel mileage boost associated with the autobox, as it returns 25-mpg city and 34-mpg highway compared to the manual Scion FR-S (and its rating of 22-mpg around town and 30-mpg during highway cruising).
Although advertised as a four-passenger coupe, a brief period of time spent behind the first two positions in the 2015 Scion FR-S quickly disabuses you of the notion that this vehicle is suitable for anything more than a pair of riders. That being said, it's not as though the Scion FR-S' rear bench is without purpose: it serves well as a parcel shelf, or as a way to dramatically expand the car's modest 6.9 cubic foot trunk. This is accomplished by folding down the seatback to open up a very useful gap between the passenger compartment and the Scion's cargo area.
One of the biggest complaints about the 2015 Scion FR-S had to do with its Pioneer-sourced touchscreen infotainment system, a unit whose buttons were so poorly placed that users ran the risk of turning the entire system off while merely attempting to adjust the volume. The new, 6.1-inch touchscreen moves away from the aftermarket feel of the Pioneer gear, and it can be further upgraded in the form of Scion's BeSpoke infotainment system that also includes expanded Bluetooth functionality and a navigation feature. The BeSpoke system can be ordered through Scion's extensive accessories catalog.
The term 'accessories' is something you'll hear a lot when negotiating the equipment level on a 2015 Scion FR-S, since there are no official 'options' to be had with the coupe. Instead, Scion's dealer-installed accessories program represents the sole method available to upgrade the features that come standard with the car's single trim level. These include basic Bluetooth connectivity, 17-inch wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, the previously-mentioned touchscreen, HD radio, a CD player, automatic headlights, adjustable seats, cruise control, a tilt and telescoping steering column, air conditioning, and power windows and door locks.
If you want to go all-out on an accessories binge, then the 2015 Scion FR-S is available in the Release Series 1.0 model. In keeping with Scion's tradition of building limited edition versions of almost every one of its vehicles, the FR-S Release Series 1.0 incorporates a number of unique features and upgrades compared to the base model, such as a lowered suspension, a sport exhaust system, the BeSpoke infotainment touchscreen as standard, keyless ignition, and HID headlights. The Release Series 1.0 edition of the Scion FR-S is easily identifiable by its unique body kit and eye-searing yellow paint, as well as through its special steering wheel and shift knob.
Photo by Toyota
Perhaps as a cost-cutting measure, or maybe because the car's target demographic typically isn't hauling any precious cargo on their canyon carving runs, the 2015 Scion FR-S doesn't offer a single active safety feature. That's not to imply that the Scion FR-S is in any way dangerous to drive, as its suite of airbags combined with electronic traction control and stability control have afforded the car with a five star crash safety rating from the NHTSA as well as an overall rating of 'Good' from the IIHS. It just means you won't find features like blind spot monitoring or forward collision warning with the coupe.
We've mentioned more than once that the 2015 Scion FR-S is an affordable automobile, and Scion has consciously decided to keep its window sticker on the accessible side of the ledger in its third year of production. The starting price for the car is listed at $24,900, and if you want a manual transmission that figure rises to $26,000, keeping it well in line with rivals like the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, the Ford Mustang, and the Chevrolet Camaro. If you want to snag a Release Series 1.0 model, however, you'll have to be prepared to pay a premium: it retails for $$29,990.