The production version of the all-new Scion FR-S compact sports coupe was unveiled in rather spectacular fashion this past weekend by Toyota President Akio Toyoda as he briefly put the car through its paces at Fuji Speedway in Japan. The Scion FR-S (to be marketed in Japan as the Toyota 86) was developed in partnership with Subaru, who have named their own version of the slippery-looking two-door automobile the Subaru BRZ.
According to the Automotive News Toyota has finally lifted the curtain on the details surrounding the Scion FR-S prior to its official launch at this week's Tokyo Motor Show. Thanks in part to specifications released by Toyota dealers in the U.K., it has been confirmed that the Scion FR-S will feature a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder boxer engine that makes use of direct fuel injection to produce 197 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. The power plant represents the first time that Subaru has mated its vaunted horizontally-opposed engine design with Toyota's advanced, high compression D-4S direct injection system that makes use of twin injectors to balance power and fuel economy.
This engine's output will be sent to the vehicle's rear wheels via either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, where a limited-slip differential ensures that power is planted to the ground with as little drama as possible. Top speed for the FR-S is 142 miles per hour - making it far and away the fastest automobile in the Scion fleet - and the coupe can hit 60 miles per hour from a standing start in just six seconds. The Scion FR-S also boasts a 53:47 weight distribution, giving it near-neutral handling, as well as 17-inch wheels.
The Scion FR-S is a significant step forward for the boutique brand, which is exclusively marketed in the United States. To this point, Scion has offered a range of compact, highly customizable cars that have skewed towards the "fun" side of the driving spectrum while avoiding any hardcore performance leanings. The Scion FR-S gives the automaker a halo car that in the words of its designers is intended to go "back to the basics" and offer a simple yet effective track tool that could be driven on the street. The FR-S design purpose avoided technological "complications" such as all-wheel drive, turbochargers and advanced vehicle software systems in order to maintain the purity of the driving experience for owners. This guiding philosophy was derived in part from the mid-80's AE86 Toyota Corolla, a rear-wheel drive compact car that became an icon amongst drift fans thanks to its nimble handling and simple mechanical design.
There is no question that the Scion FR-S (which is slated to go on sale in the second quarter of 2012) is one of the most visually arresting vehicles to have ever left the brand's showrooms. It also displays an entertaining character from behind the wheel, thanks to its 200 horsepower engine and relatively light curb weight. That being said, the 2+2 coupe is facing one of the strongest compact sports car markets in decades. On the two-door front, the Scion FR-S will be going up against not just its identical twin Subaru BRZ rival (which may gain a factory turbocharged STI edition), but also the V-6 editions of the Ford Mustang, the Chevrolet Camaro and the Dodge Challenger, each of which offer significantly more power at price point that is comparable to the projected MSRP of the Scion FR-S. Even closer to home is the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, a vehicle which gains whopping horsepower gains across the board for the 2013 model year as well as revised styling that will place it squarely in the sights of potential FR-S shoppers.
It is an excellent time to be in the market for a compact performance coupe, thanks to the amazing range of affordable choices currently on sale. It remains to be seen whether the Scion FR-S will be able to hold its own against such a formidable array of adversaries.