Full 2014 Scion FR-S Review
What's New for 2014
Introduced last year, the Scion FR-S carries over into 2014 largely unchanged. A touchscreen audio system now comes standard, and Scion has added additional padding to the door panels and the sides of the center console.
Just more than a decade after its brand debut, Scion delivers the car that embodies the company's original mission: to woo young buyers with stylish, fun and affordable cars. The 2014 Scion FR-S blends a generous features list, vast customization possibilities and parent company Toyota's reliability record with something Scion models have long lacked: performance.
Co-developed with Subaru (which makes the FR-S's twin, the Subaru BRZ), the FR-S outpaces the Scion tC, the next sportiest car in the family. With a 2.0-liter flat four-cylinder ("boxer") engine sending 200 horsepower to the rear wheels, the FR-S won't overwhelm with power or acceleration. But the compact coupe's light weight, ideal weight balance, low center of gravity and sublime steering make romps on back roads a consistent delight. If Porsche were to build a $25,000 version of its Cayman sports car, we suspect it would feel a lot like the FR-S.
The FR-S carries over into 2014 with minimal changes. Additional padding on the door panels and center console minimizes knee discomfort, while a new standard touchscreen display anchors the sound system interface. Beyond that, the FR-S cabin is all business. The driver faces gauges and instruments dominated by a large tachometer, while aggressively bolstered sport seats hold occupants tight. Just don't expect much multipurpose versatility from the FR-S, as the rear seat and trunk are pretty diminutive.
Aside from its Subaru twin, the 2014 Scion FR-S has no direct competitor, as affordable rear-wheel-drive coupes are few and far between. However, near rivals such as the 2014 Ford Mustang, Hyundai Genesis Coupe and the Nissan 370Z offer brawnier engines and quicker acceleration. Meanwhile, similarly priced performance hatchbacks like the Ford Focus ST offer much greater practicality and a minimal loss in numbers-based performance. These were all issues we noted in our 12-month Scion FR-S long-term test.
Therefore, if burnouts or daily-use practicality are priorities, this Scion probably isn't for you. But if you value an involving drive and back roads athleticism in a small, affordable package, Scion is answering the call.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The four-seat 2014 Scion FR-S coupe comes in a single trim level. Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels; air-conditioning; full power accessories; a height-adjustable driver seat; a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel; cruise control; Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity; and an eight-speaker sound system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen, a CD player, HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack and USB/iPod integration.
In lieu of factory options, Scion offers an array of dealer-installed accessories that include foglights; a performance exhaust system and a premium BeSpoke sound system with navigation, voice command, smartphone app integration and Internet radio.
Powertrains and Performance
Under the FR-S's sleek hood is a 2.0-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine generating 200 hp and 151 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic with paddle shifters and rev-matched downshifts routes power to the rear wheels.
In Edmunds testing, a manual-equipped FR-S sprinted from zero to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds -- quick, although not as fast as heavier, more powerful sport coupes. We haven't tested an FR-S with the automatic, but a nearly identical Subaru BRZ equipped with the automatic transmission yielded a slower, 7.9-second 0-60 time.
The six-speed manual FR-S returns an impressive 25 mpg combined (22 mpg city/30 mpg highway), while the automatic achieves 28 combined (25 city/34 highway).
Standard safety features on the 2014 Scion FR-S include antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Scion FR-S came to a stop from 60 mph in 117 feet: a respectable distance, though longer than average for a car with summer tires. In crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the FR-S received the highest possible rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
Scion has made few concessions to style in the FR-S's simple, businesslike cabin. It's an environment that emphasizes driving, punctuated only by a blend of Toyota and Subaru switchgear and materials. The FR-S's cockpit looks a little bare compared with other compact sport cars in its price range (like the feature-laden Ford Focus ST), yet it also feels like a genuine back-to-basics driver's car. A standard touchscreen-based sound system interface is new this year, but opting for the upgraded BeSpoke system is still the way to get navigation functionality and smartphone app integration.
The FR-S's front seats offer firm support for hard driving, but remain comfortable over long-distance travel as well. Drivers of just about any size can find a suitable driving position, and the low-profile hood allows an expansive view of the road ahead.
There's a backseat, too, but not many adults will want to sit back there. Legroom is next to nil, heads bob perilously close to the rear glass and the center tunnel impedes hiproom. Trunk space is also small at 6.9 cubic feet, although folding down the mostly useless backseat expands cargo-carrying abilities considerably.
If you prefer a car that can hammer down freeway on-ramps, tires ablaze, the 2014 Scion FR-S is not for you. Power is sufficient, but nothing more. The FR-S compensates with impressive grip, feel and thrills when bending around corners, however. The level of control and communication with the driver is beyond anything in this price range. In addition, the brake pedal is firm and consistent in feel, the manual gearbox is a pleasure to shift and the chassis remains composed even when the road surface doesn't. Even the available automatic transmission is programmed for enthusiastic driving.
Away from twisty roads, the FR-S is still rewarding. It's surprisingly easy to drive, with a sufficiently damped ride that makes civilized work of the daily commute or flat stretches of a long road trip. There is, however, a fair amount of road noise transmitted through the cabin, especially on concrete-surfaced freeways.