Life can throw us the occasional curveball. As hard as we may try, sometimes, things don’t go our way or the way we’d like them to go. Keeping our chins up, spirits high and carrying on is the only way to get through these tougher situations. Distractions often help alleviate the weight we may find ourselves hauling when feeling down.
Enter the Scion FR-S. As a car guy, taking to the road and heading towards my favourite stretch of tarmac can be as therapeutic (or more than) as sitting down with any therapist -- not to mention cheaper, so long as you don’t get caught speeding.
Thankfully, the FR-S is not about speed -- although it’ll get there. No, the FR-S is about total driver involvement that begs for full concentration, effectively replacing all negative thoughts and worries with feelings of freedom, joy, and plastering a massive grin on one’s face. The Scion FR-S is a true pick-me-up.
Less is seriously more
This Scion’s, and by default the Subaru BRZ’s, voluntary simplicity is what makes this car lightheartedly wonderful to drive.
Obviously, like all modern late-model cars, the FR-S has all the necessary passive safety features such as ABS, airbags and ESP. The glory in the FR-S is that the latter can be fully deactivated. Therein resides the essence of this car: it’s all about the driver, his or her skills and the elements.
For four seasons
I’ve driven both the FR-S and BRZ in a number of conditions and not one would make me shake my head and regret the purchase of the car if I were to bring one home.
Granted, a 40cm dumping of the white stuff might throw a wrench into forward momentum but then the storm will do the same to most others. Once underway, the FR-S simply obeys the driver’s inputs. If you’re like me, keeping the steering wheel and the nose of the car aligned proves nearly impossible, the FR-S is so predictable (thanks in part to a limited slip differential) that getting into serious trouble requires the complete absence of skill.
In favourable driving conditions, the Scion is man’s best friend, once more delivering on the driver’s intentions without fault -- that is, unless the above-mentioned condition is present.
The basics, à la 2015
Sure, I would love to write that the 2015 FR-S doesn’t have power steering, that it’s up to our forearms but the fact of the matter is that car features electric power steering. You’d never truly know though as on-center feel is excellent and it loads up beautifully when the car charges into a corner.
Power is nothing without control, and while the FR-S has more than enough oomph it offers up an immense level of control and confidence. The ventilated 4-wheel disc brakes are strong with superb middle pedal responsiveness.
Yes! Three pedals! My tested FR-S was equipped with the uber-delightful 6-speed manual ‘box thank heavens! There is such a thing as a grotesque 6-speed autobox with wheel-mounted flappy paddles but don’t, just don’t.
Twerking the shifter and flirting with the pedals is nothing short of addictive; their positioning hovers at near perfect levels, making heel-toeing no harder than scratching one’s nose. The shifter itself offers plenty of mechanical resistance; you can almost feel the forks moving around in the transmission.
The FR-S’ MacPherson front and double wishbone rear suspension works wonders with the car’s stiff chassis. Harshness is not on the menu, however, the lowered-car bounce is slightly present. Heck, it’s an FR-S, not a Camry. With zero body-roll and little lean, the FR-S is nothing less than flat, solid and planted at all times.
The one reoccurring complaint about the FR-S/BRZ is the lack of power, but I contend that it’s enough. Enough to get up to speed quickly, but perhaps not to enough to take on a Mazdaspeed3, Focus ST or WRX as at one point or another, they’ll all want to take you on.
The flat-4 creates a lovely drone that could be loud after a while, especially if you mistakenly thought the FR-S would make a nice little sports coupe for fun -- because, you see the 2.0L likes to rev. It begins to flourish around 3,500-4,000 rpm and really blossoms come 6k. Peak 151 lb-ft of torque lasts between 6,400-6,6000 while all 200 horsepower arrive at 7,000 rpm. Keep your right foot down and you’ll realize that you have enough power.
The 2015 Scion FR-S’ interior quarters are designed for driving. The front seats are heavily bolstered, too much for some, but perfect for my average-medium build. The driving position is spot on, very low slung and perfect for sporty driving.
All manners of controls are easily addressed save for the radio/navigation system that should only be fiddled with at streetlights. The nav adds $1,025 to the base price of $26,670 but is useless and the money is better spent on aftermarket goodies.
The rear is useable and according my esteemed colleague Miranda, will easily hold a child seat. The trunk is snug but fair for a weekend’s worth of camping gear.
There are but very, very few. I love the MK7 VW GTI and would, for practical reasons, take it over the FR-S or BRZ for that matter. The Mazda MX-5 is another alternative as is the almost-gone Hyundai Genesis Coupe, and the all-new Ford Mustang. Out of the box, none are more dedicated and properly prepped for weekend track events. This is the FR-S’ greatest asset.
One way or another, if you’re down and blue, you’ll always feel better after going for a spin in your FR-S.