2013 Scion FR-S: Not a Brick
May 9, 2013
While the kid was on spring break, we took a trip to the California Science Center, located next to the fantastically decrepit Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Spirit of Troy was with us that day as the weather was perfect, Rush and Public Enemy were later inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in a ceremony just up the road, and I even exchanged brief Lakers and Dodgers misery with local sports radio icon Vic The Brick Jacobs while walking around Little Tokyo. Feelin' Blue, indeed.
Sorry, that's likely a string of non-sequiturs for most readers. More to the point, we went to the Science Center to see the Space Shuttle Endeavour installation. Fantastic display. If you're in L.A., go see it. It's one thing to see it on TV, or even watch a lift-off or landing in person. Quite another to stand under it, stare at thousands of those thermal tiles and consider the miles THAT thing has seen.
Interestingly, the shuttle looks even less aerodynamic in person that you thought it did in photos. Apparently, engineers even dubbed it the "Aero Brick," but you learn that the aero was never a priority on the shuttle. That thing punched its way out of the atmosphere and bullied itself back in, only needing curves sufficient to minimize heat on re-entry and glide itself to a runway. Regardless, it still seems like a marvel of engineering and American innovation, and it's hard not to be awed in its presence.
The Scion FR-S isn't a marvel on the same level, but it is something of a marvel in the marketplace: a rear-drive, tail-happy coupe affordable to young guys seeking that rear-drive tail-happy thrill. Which is to say that Subaru and Scion own this segment now. The Miata has its niche, but makes less power, sits on a 9.5-inch shorter wheelbase, and shows tremendous neutrality under pressure.
Which makes it intriguing to think of what Mazda, or Alfa Romeo for that matter, have planned for the 2015 Miata and the Alfa roadster to be built off the Miata platform. Would Mazda lengthen the Miata wheelbase, alter the suspension geometry and give it 30 more horsepower? Seems unlikely. Why mess with a good thing? But I have to imagine it's hard for Mazda executives to watch Toyota and Subaru own this performance fun car cul-de-sac.
Alternatively, would anyone be surprised to see Hyundai or Kia shave 8 or 10 inches off the Genesis Coupe platform and implant the 2.0-liter turbo? Much musing beneath the Endeavor's wings...
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 15,000 miles