Written by: Don Cheng
Photography by: Don Cheng
Since its launch in 2012, the Scion FR-S and its twin brother the Subaru BRZ have done a fair job of capturing the low end of the enthusiast market, but a lot has changed in the past few years. The sub-$30,000 market for performance cars has exploded with options that offer a whole lot of bang for not a lot of buck. Some are new entrants and some are old players that have received massive discounts; as Abe Simpson’s best friend Jasper would say “what a time to be alive” for the auto enthusiast looking for a cheap thrill.
As with previous years, the exterior design of the FR-S remains largely unchanged. That is a good thing. The styling and design of the car certainly doesn’t look old – as the saying goes “don’t fix what’s not broken”. For 2016, Scion has instead spent some time classing up the driver-focused interior and to that effect, silver accents have been added to the door handles, console, and dash.
There is still an abundant use of hard plastics throughout the cabin but the silver accents do dampen the feeling of an otherwise cheap interior. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, “Wow, what a host of changes! Gee thanks Scion for all the updates.” But wait! There’s more: a backup camera comes standard for 2016 models, as does a seven-inch touchscreen Pioneer infotainment system.
Thanks to the unmatched LED backlight on the screen though, the solution does look rather aftermarket. The saving grace is that the backup camera actually produces high-resolution imagery, so you can at least see what’s behind you instead of guessing. As with all low-slung sports coupes, rearward visibility is limited and the addition of a backup camera is more than welcome when maneuvering through cramped parking garages.
Every time I get seat time with the FR-S/BRZ twins, I always step out wondering if any more power is necessary. The initial answer is a shake of the head but with each passing second, the answer begins to shift towards a nod. It’s a strange phenomenon, but let me explain why.
The FR-S has sublime handling chops – this is a universally accepted truth like Newton’s law of universal gravitation. The 2.0-liter flat four remains the same, pumping out 200 ponies and a paltry 151 lb-ft of torque. The numbers are fine and dandy when driving at eight-tenths of the car’s limit in the city (while still remaining within the legal limits), but once you hit the highway, thoughts of forced induction begin teasing your mind as your FR-S struggles to catch up to oncoming traffic – and therein lies the rub.
We didn’t get to where we are as a species by settling for “pretty damn good”. The FR-S could have benefitted so much from a turbocharger, and that’s why after the euphoria of a “pretty damn good” driving experience wears off, I’m always left wondering what the car would be like even with a morsel of extra power.
Find some twisty back roads though, and all thoughts of extra power melt away. The car absolutely shines around the bends. Keep the revs above 5000 rpm and the car absolutely dances around corners. Give the throttle a light stab and the FR-S is more than happy to wag its tail. The car receives stiffer front springs and a revised set of rear shocks in 2015, and the additions help make the car feel far more stable mid-corner.
The steering on the FR-S has always been a thing of marvel and that fact hasn’t changed for 2016. The electric power-assisted rack found in the FR-S gives me hope for the technology as hydraulic racks die out. The rack in the FR-S has been tuned to perfection, delivering gobs of road feedback. In fact, it’s as if the steering wheel is a vessel that attaches your brain to the two front tires every time you grab hold.
Putting the car precisely where you want it is an cinch and the engineers at Toyota/Subaru have gotten the steering weight down to an art form. It’s weighted perfectly at low speeds - not too light, and not too heavy. As you move faster, the weight of the wheel gets heavier but not disproportionately so as often is the case with these electric power assisted units. Brilliant.
At an as tested price of $27,490 before taxes and delivery, the FR-S checks arguably all the boxes required for a proper performance car. Sporty and stiff chassis? Check. Limited slip differential? Check. Six-speed manual transmission? Check. Rear-wheel drive? Check.
The car serves up a really good value proposition, but in 2015 its competition has come to a boiling point and the question remains whether or not that proposition still remains. On the one hand, Mazda’s new ND Miata is faster, lighter, and almost just as nimble for those addicted to the handling capabilities of the FR-S. On the other hand, those who are hungry for power have the option of the Hyundai Genesis 3.8 R-Spec or the cheaper enthusiast edition 370Z which puts over 300 horsepower in your pockets for almost the same price.
The scales are tipping towards the competition, but Scion still has one trump card up its sleeve, its brand. Toyota from the get-go has geared Scion towards the younger generation of kids who, as Dominic Toretto would say, “live life one quarter mile at a time” (I fully acknowledge the irony of a tuner brand selling a fast and furious image yet offering nothing fast in their lineup).
The company offers a host of aftermarket parts straight from the factory to spice up the FR-S any way you want it. If you want more power, there are countless options for custom superchargers and turbochargers for your vehicle. The aftermarket support for the FR-S is one of the strongest for any tuner brand and that’s where the FR-S still retains its edge… at least until the new 2017 FR-S arrives later next year, and I hear that one has forced induction.
型号 Model: 2016 Scion FR-S
顏色 Paint Type: Ablaze
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $27,490
試車售價 Price as Tested: $27,490
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,570
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,235 / 1,775 / 1,285
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,251
引擎 Engine: 2.0-litre flat-four boxer engine, DOHC, Variable Valve Timing
最大馬力 Horsepower: 200 hp @ 7,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 151 lb-ft @ 6,400 - 6,600 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed manual
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: MacPherson gas struts and stabilizer bar
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Double wishbone and stabilizer bar
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 10.9 / 7.9 / 9.6
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P215/45R17