2013 Scion FR-S: My Fairlady
October 4, 2012
There have been a lot of comparisons on this blog made to the 2013 Scion FR-S: Scion tC, Hyundai Genesis Coupe, even the RX-7. It just so happened I drove a 2013 Nissan 370Z Nismo (I refuse to "yell" Nismo in all caps) on Tuesday night and our 2013 Scion FR-S on Wednesday night. The differences could not have been greater and it got me thinking...
Obviously, I don't know how old you are, but I'm old enough to remember the original Z car, the 240Z. When it was introduced, it was not intended to go toe-to-toe with muscle cars. It was meant as an alternative to them. It's charm was that it was light, nimble, inexpensive, and darned attractive. In it's day, the 240Z was a unique combination of good things that the current 370Z is not. It's just my opinion here, but in an attempt to go against the likes of the Camaro and Mustang, the 370Z is now stuck in the middle of nowhere: heavy, unattractive, and tiresome to drive with its now notoriously droning lazy-revving V6, heavy steering/shifter/clutch/styling, and in the case of the Nismo, unforgiving and unlivable suspension.
Which brings me to the Hyundai Genesis Coupe. It too had the potential to succeed where the Z has failed so miserably. Yet it appears Hyundai used the Z as a template and while it is far more livable, it has an even bigger V6 (or poorly integrated turbo-four) and it drives more like a grand tourer than a proper sports car.
When it was available (did anybody even notice the last model-year was 2011?), the Mazda RX-8 came as close to being the spiritual successor to the Z than anything else, except it was ugly and it had a weak-sauce engine (c'mon admit it). The handling, driver controls, and the way it felt like you were "wearing" the RX-8 instead of driving it were spot on, however.
All this, of course, begs the question: Does there need to be a successor to the 240Z? I believe so, and the Scion FR-S (and its analogue, the Subaru BRZ) do so better than anything in production right now or even the recent past. Just like the 240Z in 1973, the time seems right for a light, fun, nimble, willing, and inexpensive sports car. Being rear-wheel drive, both the FR-S/BRZ are uniquely gifted in the hands of an enthusiast and they are also unique in the segment. Let's hope they spawn a whole new generation of drivers who care less about zero-to-sixty times and more about the rewards found in telepathic handling, responsive steering, and a price that allows for sensible wheel/tire and exhaust upgrades -- and that's all.
Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 6,625 miles.