Breaking News

Features

April 9, 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
Features
  • Le Miz 3 mlh.jpg Do you hear the people sing?

    Sometimes referred to as “the world’s most popular musical,” “Les Miserables,” an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 1846 novel, has been performed around the globe in more than a dozen languages for nearly 30 years.

    July 19, 2014 3 Photos

  • Bryan Collins: God so loved

    In John 3:16, Jesus spoke of the Father’s love of the world, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

    July 11, 2014

  • The Rev. G. David Henderson: Those who help also serve Christ

    If the reader wrongly believes Christ can’t use you because you’re too timid to sing, pray, speak publicly, play musical instruments in worship services inside a church sanctuary, today’s devotional will greatly encourage you.

    July 4, 2014

  • New pastor for First Presbyterian

    The Rev. William McMullen “Will” Scott, currently of Indianapolis, Ind., has been called to serve as the pastor of Dalton’s First Presbyterian Church. Scott is only the 19th senior minister to be called by the congregation in the church’s 167-year history. His nomination was approved by the congregation Sunday, June 15, following a yearlong search.

    June 16, 2014

  • Bryan Collins: Men, step up

    On Sunday, our nation will celebrate Father’s Day. The observable differences in the way Father’s Day and Mother’s Day are celebrated could be attributed to several different factors.  Mother’s Day is typically a more sentimental occasion than Father’s Day because our moms are usually a little more sentimental. Moms are typically more nurturing and so we think of them differently than we think of our dads. It is too often the case that moms have to play the role of mother and father to the children.

    June 13, 2014

  • The Rev. G. David Henderson: The powerlessness in aloneness

    God knows the fragileness of every human he has created. The first time God graded something as “no good” within his new creations is when he created the first human, Adam: “It is not good for any man to abide alone” (Genesis 2:18). God then created Eve.

    June 6, 2014

  • DLT play features bluegrass gospel music, comedy

    It is October of 1945, the war is over, and the gospel-singing Sanders family is back together again.

    June 1, 2014

  • O.N. Jonas Memorial Foundation plans for future

    The yearly meeting of the O.N. Jonas Memorial Foundation was recently held and plans for the future were discussed. The foundation (administered by the Creative Arts Guild) began in 1968 with friends of the late Oscar N. Jonas uniting with business, civic and educational leaders to establish an organization that could perpetuate Oscar’s aspirations for the cultural enrichment of all children in northwest Georgia. The foundation sponsors visual, performing and literary arts in Dalton Public Schools, Whitfield County Schools and Murray County Schools, and also Crossroads, Mountainbrook and the Dalton Regional Youth Detention Center. All programs are free to students.

    June 1, 2014

  • Robin Richmond Mason: Sit down for a season but stand firmly on your roots

    Proverbs tells us that a woman can live in such a way that her children will rise up and call her blessed.

    May 10, 2014

  • The Rev. G. David Henderson: Christ-like power from devilish thorns

    Today’s devotional is to the readers who have asked God many times to rid Satan out of their life, but as of yet he hasn’t  removed him. The Apostle Paul also experienced such heartbreaking misery.

    May 2, 2014