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Road Test: 2013 Scion FR-S

The 2013 Scion FR-S breaks away from the

The 2013 Scion FR-S breaks away from the familiar boxy versions of Scion releases with the body of a small, conservative coupe. Credit: Bloomberg News

The FR-S is an all-new sports car from Scion, Toyota's youth-oriented brand, and it is fun -- holds the road like it's Velcroed to it. And it's not too bad on the wallet, either.

Plus, it is probably the sharpest-looking car to emerge from the Scion nameplate, with bold fenders, sleek profile and aggressive front end.

So what does FR-S stand for? Well, officially, it means front engine, rear-wheel-drive and sport. But creative critics have also defined it as For Retired Seniors, and Fun but Really Slow.

Ah, yes, Houston, we do have this one problem.

Jointly developed by Toyota and Subaru, the rear-wheel-drive FR-S is not a speedster. It is not for those who dream of a large herd of horses and torque that will blow away the Mustang next to you at the stoplight.

The sole engine available is a 2.0-liter horizontally-opposed four-cylinder plant that corrals 200 horses and puts out 151 pound-feet of torque. All that adds up to decent, but not riveting, acceleration, especially in the middle of the torque band.

Now, to be fair, it's going to get you to 60 mph in around 7 seconds, maybe even a few tenths less. But it could be better -- by today's sports-car standards.

Steering is wonderfully responsive and cornering with this thing is a blast, with superb flatness and grip. Braking is firm and strong, too. And the MacPherson struts up front combined with the rear double wishbones help to provide plenty of sweet road feel.

So the FR-S is ready to race, drift and yet scoot on down to work, too. The ride is on the firm side, as it should be with a sports car, but not so uncomfortable that you wouldn't want to drive it every day.

Once inside, there is enough to distract you from the sounds outside. The optional 340-watt BeSpoke audio system, for one, is excellent. It's relatively easy to use with its 5.8-inch screen and nav system, and it even has a feature that lets you access iPhone apps by voice.

That said, the rest of the interior won't blow you away. It's not even as sharp as the other Scion entries. As for rear seat space, it's nearly nonexistent.

Long overdue from the Scion lineup over the past decade has been performance. Well, it's all here with the FR-S. It's not dripping with speed, but it's loaded with brisk, nimble performance. It's ready if you are heading to the rally track on Saturday.

And if it's just to work, well, at least you'll have a ball on the way.




Base price: $24,500

Price as tested: $26,930

EPA fuel economy: 22 mpg city; 25 mpg highway

Engine: 2.0 liter, four cylinder

Power: 200 horsepower at 7,000 rpm

0 to 60: About seven seconds

Length: 166.7 inches

Width: 69.9 inches

Height: 50.5 inches

Cargo volume: 6.9 cubic feet

Bottom line: Performance comes to Scion, sort of.

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