I was watching TV the other night, and this commercial comes on featuring the new 2013 Scion FR-S
. It was an exciting array of camera shifts and engine-revving noises and words like “BOXER ENGINE” and “REAR-WHEEL DRIVE” in big, screen-filling all-caps.
Watching and hearing the new sports coupe from Toyota’s sub-brand, ripping up a winding road, was making the car-nerd side of my brain salivate.
This looks like a seriously exciting car. The commercial was sexy, too – but the message at the end of it made me laugh.
It said “DRIVING IS BACK”.
LOL. Seriously, Toyota?
I guess I missed the press release, or something. In recent years, I thought DRIVING was very much alive and well. It’s not like it went anywhere after Toyota ditched the sports car scene. People wanted sports cars, whether Toyota was building them or not. There were always options for DRIVING all along.
|2013 Scion FR-S (Photo: Scion)
So, yeah, this new FR-S should be pretty hot – but it’s not like the market didn’t have options after Toyota gave all their enthusiast cars the axe to focus on the cardigan crowd.
Maybe “WE’RE REJOINING DRIVING” would have been a more accurate conclusion for the FR-S commercial.
Toyota used to build some pretty hot sports models back in the day. I own one of them – so I was just as upset as anyone when I watched one of my favorite performance carmakers become a go-to brand for folks after hybrids and Camrys.
Supra? Dead. AE86? Dead. Celica? Sayonara. MR2? Resurrected with questionable results, then killed off yet again. Oh, the pain. Now, throttle requests were filtered through the electronic fun police, side airbags were all the rage, and the coupes, hood scoops and turbochargers were gone. And there wasn’t a rear differential in sight.
I’m sure the FR-S will be something of a rocket-propelled asphalt scalpel. Early reviews suggest perfect handling, a fantastic level of overall balance, and a true sports-car cockpit.
But really? DRIVING IS BACK?
I wondered if the people responsible for this FR-S commercial had ever driven a Honda S2000. Or a Volkswagen GTI
. What about a MINI Cooper S
? A Volvo C30 T5
? A Mazda RX-8 or MX-5
? Virtually anything with a BMW badge on the hood?
All of the above are great DRIVING cars. Many are even affordable. All have (or had) character, charisma and appeal. And all were around during that period where Toyota showroom floors were devoid of an exciting performance model.
What about the Hyundai Genesis Coupe? Hell, that car basically brought the rear-drive Japanese sports car back to market, and it’s not even Japanese. Genesis might be from a brand with near-nil history in racing, but it filled the hole left in many enthusiasts’ hearts left by machines like the RX-7, Supra and MR2. Mine included.
I’m excited for the FR-S. I can’t wait to drive one and see what all the hype is about. I will, later this summer.
In the meantime, I have a message for Toyota: WELCOME BACK TO DRIVING. WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU.