Tuesday, January 22, 2013
This is a ground-breaking product, because its design was generated, not by considerations of practicality, comfort, nor gadgetry, but by performance metrics alone. This is not to say that the FR-S is impractical, uncomfortable, or bare bones, because it is not any of those things. But those ancillaries never factored into the basic equation here. Toyota, with input from Subaru (who sell their own version called BRZ), never wavered from their laser-like design vision: “Build a sports car – not by committee, but by passion – that is light, compact, agile, and intuitive, delivering true sports car performance at an affordable price.”
Just like the original Miata of 1990, the FR-S offers quintessential sports car performance. And it does so at a remarkably affordable base price of $24,200. In fact, the out-the-door bottom line on our test car was $24,997, including $67 for wheel locks, and $730 for delivery processing and handling fee. At the long-lead press presentation of the FR-S, Scion included hot laps on the Spring Mountain motorsports and country club track in Pahrump, NV. Just to prove the car’s bona fides, event planners also included a testy autocross course on an adjacent skidpad area.
Every parameter of cockpit design is tuned to extract maximum driver performance. From the fat rimmed 14.4 inch steering wheel, to the enduro capsule racing bucket seats, the FR-S is a performance lover’s delight. Out on Spring Mountain’s deceptively hilly ultra-late apex circuit, the FR-S handled with precision. Thanks to its 53/47 front/rear weight split, and modest curb weight of 2,758 pounds, the FR-S hunted apexes with no drama, exited clipping points without tail wag, and sprinted from corner to corner with enough zing from its 200hp motor to make the whole undertaking a pleasure.
I almost fainted when, during the technical presentation, a Scion engineer mentioned that the inside of the cabin had been designed to carry 4 autocross compound wheels/tires to an event! In more than 25 years of attending such introductions, no one from a major car company had ever referenced such a design concern. More power to Toyota, Scion (and Subaru) for recognizing this hidden and specific market niche. The FR-S is destined to become a cult classic.