2016 Scion FR-S new car reviews

We're all familiar with the look by now, but it is still striking in a way.
Interior hasn't changed much.
As usual, we're fans of simplicity. These knobs do have a kind of cheap feel to them, though.

Since entering the market, the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ have become commonplace at autocrosses and track days. In fact, eight of the top 10 finishers in Street Touring Xtreme at SCCA Solo Nationals sported one of those two badges. So we know they can handle the corners, but how do they fare from a practical point of view?

Other staff views

Joe Gearin Joe Gearin
Associate Publisher

Normally the cars we receive from the press fleet aren't really aimed at us. Sure, the new Escalade is nice, but I'll never buy one. Of course we all enjoyed having the Jag F-Type R around the office, but none of us are heading down to their dealer to take delivery.

The FR-S is different. From it's inception, this car was aimed directly at us: the hardcore enthusiast market. Fortunately, it hit a direct bulls-eye. This is not a Grand Touring car, or a sporty poser, it's a genuine bona-fide sports car.

Many will say the FR-S rides to stiffly, has steering too darty, or that it doesn't offer enough luxury amenities inside. There are plenty of other softer, more isolated options for those people. There are also those on the interwebs who claim it's underpowered. Perhaps those folks should head on down to their local Dodge dealer and buy a Hellcat.

The FR-S isn't about raw power. It isn't about putting up fantastic numbers for auto journalists to crow about. Also, with a lowly Scion badge, it isn't about impressing your neighbors either. What the FR-S is about is pure driving enjoyment. It's about the connection between man and machine. This wonderful little creation celebrates each apex. It rewards proper driving technique, and is easy to heal and toe. Every detail on this car was aimed at the hard-core enthusiast, and we're grateful.

This car is so good nearly every GRM staff member wants one. It's also inexpensive enough that we can all afford to live that dream. If that isn't a bulls-eye I don't know what is. If you haven't driven one yet, do yourself a favor and get behind the wheel. It's right up there with the Miata on our list of all-time greats. Yes, it's that good.

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

Mine will be short and sweet: I will own one of these.

Soon.

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Comments
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NOHOME
NOHOME PowerDork
2/5/16 11:49 a.m.

The FRS is exactly as you describe it. The target market that bought the car is too busy enjoying the car to say much. Count me in that group.

The fringe market, a much needed sector needed to pad sales of this car, unfortunately have a lot to say about the individual items that don't meet their expectations. These are the people who want more stereo quality, more power or a softer ride perhaps. This is regardless of whether they actually own the model.

Unfortunately for Subaru and Toyota, guess who gets the most internet press.

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA Dork
2/5/16 3:48 p.m.

Those people are the ones who want every car to be like every other car, then decry the sameness of all those cars. Sadly, the Scion nameplate is doomed but I hope they put a Toyota badge on it and send it back out there.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
2/5/16 4:21 p.m.

When I bought the 15, they looked for 2 weeks to find a 6spd in a color I wanted. I could have walked away with a fully loaded 2013, with about $3,000 worth of TRD bolt ons, but with the automatic. Nope, the pull of rowing your own was too strong. I guess dealer thought that Girls and grandmas would line up to buy them wit the slushbox. Nope, nope, nope.

I wonder if I waited until Summer of this year, if I could have gotten a deal on one still badged as a Scion still sitting on a Toyota lot? Best not tot thinks about it.

Bullseye on what it feels like to drive.

iceracer
iceracer PowerDork
2/5/16 4:40 p.m.

In reply to Ed Higginbotham: Interesting to see that is does have front and rear brakes.

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 PowerDork
2/5/16 6:30 p.m.

My wife brought a 2015 6-speed home for a test drive just for fun, and I thought the car was very nice for what it was. I really couldn't say anything bad about it. I can't say I'm in the market for one, though. I'm saving my money for a 7-passenger minivan that corners like a Miata, accelerates like the Corvette, and gets 30 mpg.

Mitchell
Mitchell UberDork
2/5/16 7:03 p.m.

The FR-S was in a dead-heat battle against the outgoing NC Miata when I was car shopping last year. I enjoyed the FR-S' cabin and the precise handling, but ultimately decided that the NC's more pleasant exhaust note, lovely shifter, and ability to go roofless were worth the few extra bucks on the lightly-used market. If the Miata did not exist, I would certainly be driving one of the twins right now.

wspohn
wspohn HalfDork
2/6/16 9:27 a.m.

Both Mazda and the FRS/BRZ seem to share the attitude that more power is not on their agenda.

Offering a version with, say, 275 bhp or so would boost visibility n the small sports car market segment.

sesto elemento
sesto elemento Dork
2/6/16 10:35 a.m.

If they made it with a 2gr and a v160, I'd own one but I personally want nothing to do with subaru after owning 2.

Mr_Clutch42
Mr_Clutch42 SuperDork
2/6/16 11:00 a.m.

I think that a lot of people that were disappointed with it were looking for a different car. It's a low hp car, but a lot of people complained that it was lacking hp. What?!? They supposedly knew that it had 200 hp when they test drove it! People also said that the driving experience was underwhelming, and that is subjective. But I will assume that plenty of people drove it only in city driving, and not on curvy back roads.

Mitchell
Mitchell UberDork
2/6/16 11:43 a.m.
wspohn wrote: Offering a version with, say, 275 bhp or so would boost visibility n the small sports car market segment.

Offering a version with 275 hp would likely require many driveline and structural enhancements, bumping the car into the $30k and 3200 lb mark. Still more expensive than the competition.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
2/6/16 12:21 p.m.

In reply to Mitchell:

Thus turning it into a Genesis or a 370Z.

Mr_Clutch42
Mr_Clutch42 SuperDork
2/6/16 12:29 p.m.

In reply to Mitchell: Exactly, and making it a different sports car altogether.

Rubens
Rubens New Reader
2/7/16 10:50 p.m.

I'm totally in love with the car. Thankfully even after Toyota pull the plug of Scion brand, they will keep building the car under the Toyota badge.

DaveEstey
DaveEstey PowerDork
2/8/16 7:42 a.m.

Eh. I've driven one in anger and on the street. I prefer my NC Miata in every regard. The engine never feels like a willing partner - it's just there.

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
2/8/16 8:35 a.m.

My problem is that the Fiesta ST has way more torque and is much more livable and is cheaper, and if I had $27K and wanted RWD, i'd go Miata so that I could put the top down. The FR-S falls into a weird niche. That said, a stock-class BRZ runs locally and utterly dominates, so I know the thing can H-A-N-D-L-E.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
2/8/16 10:01 a.m.

For everyone who loves a top down, there are those that hate the idea. They're the ones who by Frisbees.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
2/8/16 10:33 a.m.

I just spent the weekend in our new ND MX-5. It's as wonderful as you have heard. For flingable, affordable fun, we have two great RWD choices. Like Appleseed said---- if you like to put the top down--- MX-5. If you prefer a tin-top---- Frisbee twins.

you really can't lose

Vracer111
Vracer111 Reader
2/8/16 11:52 a.m.
Joe Gearin wrote: I just spent the weekend in our new ND MX-5. It's as wonderful as you have heard. For flingable, affordable fun, we have two great RWD choices. Like Appleseed said---- if you like to put the top down--- MX-5. If you prefer a tin-top---- Frisbee twins. you really can't lose

This is so true...if you don't like one you will probably like the other. Not really a miata fan, and didn't really like the drive I had in the ND recently, but I do appreciate them existing. Besides the convertible or couple preference there is another big one. If you like the chassis listing and yawing about, then the miata works; if you like a more laser-precision point-and-shoot focused chassis with virtually no perceptible body roll, then FR-S is what you want.

Desmond
Desmond Reader
2/8/16 12:32 p.m.

I really want the Frisbees to do well. In a market full of big, heavy, sophisticated sports cars full of electronic nannies, the FRS is kind of the light on the horizon. Its light weight, its simple, its cheap, its RWD, it was made with only one thing in mind: driving pleasure. What other cars can you say that about besides the ND?

Its a good situation for us. Competition breeds growth and development!

bmxr
bmxr New Reader
2/12/16 7:16 a.m.

I really don't understand why the frzbrz hardcores get so defensive about the power issue. The car feels slow, even for a car with only 200hp. My RSX-S had a much more entertaining powerplant. The twins ARE SLOW. Some people are OK with that. Other people would like a little more power. Car guys want more power? Whoda' thunk it? To suggest that a little more power would ruin the car is ridiculous. I have been wanting one of these cars since they came out, badly. I love doing track days, but I live in FLorida, not on a race track, so more power is a must for me. Since this car came out I have been driving a GTI, a 15 WRX, and now I'm in a Track Package GT. If the twins had been released with the WRX powerplant there is a 100% chance I'd be driving that and I am also certain there are thousands of people out there who feel as I do.

racerdave600
racerdave600 SuperDork
2/12/16 9:26 a.m.

The power is by far my biggest complaint against my BRZ. To be fair, I came from the 370 to this, so I had a higher hp mindset, but lets be honest, it really isn't fast. It does handle great however, although I think the stock shocks are atrocious. A modest hp bump would do wonders for it overall I think, maybe in the sales department too. You would think that with 200hp, it would feel faster than this, but it doesn't. Get in a MR2 Turbo for instance with similar power and weight, and it feels like a rocket by comparison. Just saying....

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
2/12/16 10:21 a.m.

Speed tests for the Twins vary more widely than most cars, and we haven't done speed testing on an FR-S yet. That said, most tests have the Frisbee twins going 0-60 in about 6.5 seconds---1/4 mile in about 15 seconds

For comparison:

Acura RSX-type S---- 0-60-- 6.1 seconds--- 1/4 mile----- 14.8

1992 Toyota MR2 Turbo--- 0-60-- 6.3---- 1/4 mile --- 14.8

Acura Intergra Type R--- 0-60--- 6.6 ---- 1/4 mile --- 15.2

1988 BMW M3---- 0-60--- 6.9----- 1/4 mile --- 15.2

2014 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 V6 ---- 0-60--- 5.9---- 1/4 mile --- 14.4

NC MX-5 Miata---- 0-60---- 6.5 ----- 1/4 mile---- 15

I'll concede that the Frisbee twins may not be the fastest cars on the block. In the grand scheme of things though, they are not slow cars. I've driven fast cars that weren't very engaging or entertaining, and I've driven very slow cars that were a blast. Of course more powah is always better, but I find the twins extremely satisfying and engaging as is.

rslifkin
rslifkin Reader
2/12/16 10:25 a.m.

By the numbers, they're certainly not slow. Definitely faster than an NA Miata... I think they're kinda stuck in the issue of a smooth powerband being more usable, but not feeling as fast as a high-revving peaky engine would.

Robbie
Robbie SuperDork
2/12/16 10:44 a.m.

In reply to Joe Gearin:

Let's compare the other way, not to change your point at all, but just for fun.

2016 honda pilot (4000 lb, 7 seat, 3500-5000lb towing, $31k, beastie):

0-60: 6.2, 1/4 mile, 14.8.

http://www.caranddriver.com/honda/pilot

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
2/12/16 11:01 a.m.

Robbie---- I agree, it's amazing how fast nearly everything has become. I see that as other cars being fast, not the Twins being slow.

Heck, my Minivan has 282hp and does 0-60 in 7.9 seconds! That's about as fast as the Ferrari 308 GTSi that Magnum P.I. drove!

The thing is, although nearly everything is fast these days, not everything is fun. Cars have become so refined, so isolated, that although they haul ass, they don't necessarily provide visceral feedback or driving enjoyment. The Frisbee twins do--- as does the ND Miata.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
2/12/16 1:28 p.m.

Drive a nominal 100hp, 4,500lb 4Runner for a year and a Frisbee will feel like a rocket ship. To each his own.

racerdave600
racerdave600 SuperDork
2/12/16 5:08 p.m.

I'll grant you that most cars, and trucks, have simply gotten soooo much faster. I have a difficult time in the BRZ keeping up with minivans and SUVs up to about 40. Heck, even my son's F150 will leave it for dead up to about 40 or so. Granted that's not everything, but there are times when you need to be able to run with traffic. I get in my wife's RAV4 and it "feels" faster too.

This is where I think the BRZ/FRS have a problem. We can rave all day about how good they handle, and how its nice to have a simple car, but the truth is, that if everyday Joe or Jane get in it and feel like they are driving a '64 Beetle, then they're moving on to something else. They can head off to the Ford dealer and get a Mustang that will smoke it in everyday use for about the same money. Or get a new ND that actually feels a bit faster.

You need more than a few diehards to keep sales up. You have to appeal to the average person. So what you ended up with is a rough riding, slow feeling car. And although it drives fantastic, the average person will never know the difference.

This sounds like I am being harsh on them, and maybe I am, but I love mine really. I wish it were more a combination between the 370 and BRZ though.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
2/12/16 8:05 p.m.

Jesus, were do you guys live? Are people taching up to 5 grand waiting to dump it at a green light? Or jockying for position on the highway with the hammer down? I can keep up, and slice and dice, in some of the nastiest traffic on earth (Chicago.) I have had only a few people pull on me from a light and the people who pass me in the interstate simply have bigger balls.

I dunno. Maybe I'm looking at it from the perspective of driving turds all my life until now. I'd probebly be just as happy with a new Mustang or 370Z.

PushrodRWD
PushrodRWD New Reader
2/23/16 10:03 a.m.

I aways circle back to the BRZ as a potential purchase. It reminds me of my gen 1 rx7 or an old 240z. I like to drive a car with less nannies that gives you a more seat of pants drive.

The discussion in the office today was about cars under $30k. A coworker stated that there was nothing interesting in that range. I jumped directly to the BRZ. It is interesting. It is good looking. It is not uncomfortable, for a car of that size. The layout of the controls is clear and purposeful. It has a couple of bells and whistles but not so much that it is like a rolling ipad. It does not seem to have the issues with head gaskets that the WRX has. It seems like a good car for the money.

I sat in one of these and the new Miata at the latest new car show. The Miata was wierd. It seemed very tight and the hood seemed huge. It looks nicer than the last one but not as nice as a couple of generations ago. And not as comfortable.

It may also be interesting to see what the new Camaro with a turbo 4 and manual transmission does on a track. The ecoboost mustang is nice but it is a big car. It doesn't feel that big on the back roads but it still feels a little bigger than my gen 4 z28. The new camaro feels pretty small (just sitting in it). For under $30k it would be an interesting comparison to the BRZ. (The brz looks better though.)

WonkoTheSane
WonkoTheSane HalfDork
2/23/16 10:22 a.m.

My complaint with the BRZ is like a lot of other "sports car" drivers (and the same complaints I have about every non-boosted suby I've driven), which is that the low-end torque is quite functional, but not nearly as much fun. It just felt.... flat? Is that the right word? It wasn't engaging to play with the engine like my Mazdas or the Hondas I've driven.

jstein77
jstein77 UltraDork
3/11/16 11:41 a.m.
Mitchell wrote:
wspohn wrote: Offering a version with, say, 275 bhp or so would boost visibility n the small sports car market segment.

Offering a version with 275 hp would likely require many driveline and structural enhancements, bumping the car into the $30k and 3200 lb mark. Still more expensive than the competition.

3200? From 2750? I doubt if the weight gain would really be 450 lbs. Probably more like 100 - 200, and worth every ounce. BRZ STi, anyone?

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
3/11/16 12:00 p.m.

Or 50lbs.

The Edelbrock supercharger kit is CARB legal and they back it up with covering the drivetrain for the length of the factory warranty as long as it's installed by ASE certified shop.

255whp.

MCarp22
MCarp22 Dork
3/11/16 12:10 p.m.

What they really needed is an Everyman version with the regular 2.0 out of the Impreza that could sell for under 20k.

Opti
Opti HalfDork
3/11/16 6:42 p.m.

I like them and Id love to have one, but Im quite sure Id get bored with it very vast, as much as I want to do HPDE, I dont, I go and watch my buddy do them. Man the vette barely keeps my attention, it feels pretty slow after driving it for just a few months. I feel ashamed for saying it but if it had 250 or 300 hp Id probably like it a lot more. MERICA!!!POWER!!!WHEELSPIN!!!!

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
3/11/16 6:50 p.m.
z31maniac wrote: Or 50lbs. The Edelbrock supercharger kit is CARB legal and they back it up with covering the drivetrain for the length of the factory warranty as long as it's installed by ASE certified shop. 255whp.

Reeeeeeeeaaaly?

This is relevant to my interests.

Nick (LUCAS) Comstock
Nick (LUCAS) Comstock UltimaDork
3/11/16 6:52 p.m.

The only thing that's keeping me out of one is lack of money. They have everything I'm looking for, just not monetarily feasible.

The most fun car I've ever owned only had 100hp. The reports of it lacking power doesn't really concern me.

Woody
Woody MegaDork
3/11/16 7:46 p.m.

I'm sort of interested in one of these, but I've been to two Scion dealers and two Subaru dealers this week and none of them have a single example on the lot.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
3/11/16 9:17 p.m.

Even worse if you want the 6 speed.

Huckleberry
Huckleberry MegaDork
3/11/16 9:32 p.m.
Woody wrote: I'm sort of interested in one of these, but I've been to two Scion dealers and two Subaru dealers this week and none of them have a single example on the lot.

Same here. The dealer that sold my wife her outback said he would have given me the last one he had for a song. It was 2 years old when he finally moved it.

People who want them buy them. People who don't know about them outnumber the people who know about them by about a billion to one.

racerdave600
racerdave600 SuperDork
3/12/16 7:40 a.m.
Woody wrote: I'm sort of interested in one of these, but I've been to two Scion dealers and two Subaru dealers this week and none of them have a single example on the lot.

My sales person called to wish me happy one year anniversary for my BRZ. According to her they can't get any right now and do not have a time table as to when. Not sure what is going on with them.

iceracer
iceracer PowerDork
3/12/16 11:24 a.m.

Odd, I have no problem keeping up with traffic. Slower than molasses on the drag strip. so I don't go there. I have only 120 hp.

iceracer
iceracer PowerDork
3/12/16 11:25 a.m.
Robbie wrote: In reply to Joe Gearin: Let's compare the other way, not to change your point at all, but just for fun. 2016 honda pilot (4000 lb, 7 seat, 3500-5000lb towing, $31k, beastie): 0-60: 6.2, 1/4 mile, 14.8. http://www.caranddriver.com/honda/pilot

Until you come to that corner.

pettydw
pettydw
3/28/16 8:26 p.m.

With premium gas and a modified intake (HKS snorkel + Perrin intake tube, Fram filter in stock airbox), I am fine with the power and responsiveness. Pilot Supersport tires are a handling revelation and really help put the power down too, especially out of corners. I have a 2014 FR-S and the stock suspension is really stiff, but I like that it never floats.
I test drove some used 2013's that must have been running 87 octane, since there was no top end rush.

Cotton
Cotton UberDork
3/28/16 8:38 p.m.

I drove one. The engine felt rough or unwilling to me, it didn't feel like an engine that belongs in a sports car. It also felt flat and, yes I'm one that would like more power. I wanted to like it as I've owned a lot of Toyota sports cars in the past, but in its current iteration it's not a car I'd buy new (and I'm a guy that doesn't mind buying new).

mapper
mapper Reader
3/29/16 6:05 a.m.
Appleseed wrote: Jesus, were do you guys live? Are people taching up to 5 grand waiting to dump it at a green light? Or jockying for position on the highway with the hammer down?

Just because this seemed like a good place to say this:

Atlanta. Yes. Yes.

bastomatic
bastomatic UltraDork
3/29/16 7:53 a.m.

I'm seriously considering one of the twins for my next daily. Somewhat stupidly.

I'd have two carseats in back, commuting in a Michigan winter

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
3/29/16 7:59 a.m.
Appleseed wrote:
z31maniac wrote: Or 50lbs. The Edelbrock supercharger kit is CARB legal and they back it up with covering the drivetrain for the length of the factory warranty as long as it's installed by ASE certified shop. 255whp.

Reeeeeeeeaaaly?

This is relevant to my interests.

Yep, which means an exhaust and non-CARB tune once the warranty is up would likely get up in the 285whp range.

MrLittle
MrLittle New Reader
3/29/16 8:00 a.m.
bastomatic wrote: I'm seriously considering one of the twins for my next daily. Somewhat stupidly. I'd have two carseats in back, commuting in a Michigan winter

I just bought one as a daily for Michigan. No car seats but you'll be happy to know the car seat mounting points are very clearly labeled

bastomatic
bastomatic UltraDork
3/29/16 8:04 a.m.

In reply to MrLittle:

Too bad you're not closer to me - I'd ask to test fit the seats I own. Guess I'll head to the Subie dealer. I'd absolutely be doing a subtle lift too - yours is exactly how I'd want it.

I'm not worried about fitting the kids or seats really, more worried about my back loading/unloading them.

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