Weatherford Democrat

Community News Network

April 8, 2013

Scion FR-S is a legit sports car

Anyone who loves sports cars should send a thank-you note to Toyota and Subaru.

The two companies teamed up to produce the first all-new, affordable sports car the world has seen in several years.

That's a rare thing because true, hard-edged sports cars are difficult to engineer and even harder to sell. They just don't move in big numbers because, out of necessity, most drivers lean toward cars that are more practical and comfortable. At some level, sports cars are toys, after all.

But, after spending a week driving Toyota's version — which is sold as the Scion FR-S here in America — I'm pleased to learn that this sports car is legit.

It's not a semi-sporty coupe like the old Toyota Celica. It's not a comfy grand tourer like the Hyundai Genesis Coupe. It's a real, honest-to-goodness sports car designed entirely around the driving experience.

The suspension is tuned to have a far rougher, stiffer ride than most cars. You can feel every tiny pebble on the pavement, which is perfect for drivers who want to test its limits. It's all about experiencing the road and becoming one with the road, not being isolated from the road.

Handling is ideally balanced thanks to its basic, classic sports-car layout: the engine up front, with power going to the rear wheels. That gives it a slight tendency to oversteer when you turn off the traction control and apply power while cornering — exactly what a fun sports car ought to do.

Much in the spirit of my beloved Mazda Miata, this is a car that lets drivers push their limits without killing themselves.

Compare it to the Chevy Corvette, for example. While the Corvette is a faster and more expensive car, I don't enjoy driving it as much as the FR-S because it's so much harder to test its boundaries.

With the Corvette's wide, sticky tires and giant V-8 engine, you almost have to be a professional driver — or simply foolhardy — to discover where it loses grip in ultra-high-speed turns.

With the FR-S, though, ordinary drivers can have a lot more fun. Its narrower tires lose their grip through corners at lower speeds and very smoothly, not suddenly, letting a mere-mortal driver do a delicate dance with the throttle and steering wheel to keep it composed in turns.

It makes a ham-fisted driver like me feel like an Andretti.

Power comes from a 2.0-liter, naturally aspirated, horizontally opposed "boxer" four-cylinder engine that's derived from Subaru, but it's fitted with a high-tech fuel injection system called D-4S that Toyota previously used in its Lexus division.

It makes 200 horsepower, which is impressive in a car that weighs just 2,758 pounds. 

While Subaru sells a near clone of this car called the BRZ, which I haven't driven yet, my first indication is to lean toward the Scion just because of the way it looks. The Scion has a smoother, cleaner, more classic shape in my eyes. 

Still, this isn't a car for everyone. Rear visibility is limited by a thick pillar in back. The trunk is tiny, and the back seat is a total joke. It's going to be a noisy, rough riding, fairly impractical car by design. But that's what makes it a real sports car, something that's beautiful inside and out.

It's also the reason you should pick up your pen and write "thank you" to the engineers and companies that poured their hearts and souls into building a vehicle that appeals to a small but devoted cult of driving purists.

Better yet, take it for a test drive and experience it for yourself.

Derek Price is an automotive columnst for CNHI News Service. Contact him at carcolumn@gmail.com.

1
Text Only
Community News Network
Must Read
Top News
House Ads
AP Video
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
Poll

The City of Weatherford is considering an ordinance that would ban smoking inside restaurants and enclosed areas where food is prepared, sold or consumed. Do you agree with this proposal?

Yes
No
Undecided
Don't care
     View Results