Friday, January 11, 2013

Scion steps up with a surprising road-burner

This review originally appeared in the December 2012 edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, California When someone whose car knowledge I respect asks me if my test ride is an Alfa Romeo, I know something good is happening.

And then when I tell him the carmaker is Scion, well don’t that just beat all!

The car in question is the new-for-2013 Scion FR-S sports car, a four-passenger, two-door rear driver with serious sleekness and classic Euro-sport design.  Mine looked particularly fetching in basic black.

Looked sporty and felt sporty.  The 2-liter, four-cylinder boxer engine is rated at 200 horsepower, and yes, that moves the 2,800-pound machine forward with righteous aggressiveness.  Deep-detail readers know that’s the same engine you’ll find in the delightful Subaru BRZ.

Rest assured, from my experience, you can surprise many a sports car-driving fellow motorist by putting your right foot down in this FR-S and simply sailing away.

The FR-S handled with old-school nimbleness, and small movements of the steering wheel at high speed brought instant gratification. Nice job on that score.

Alas, the sport-tuned suspension is to the max, so you’re going to feel every little bump in the road.  Things get pretty noisy in the cockpit at full song as well.

One other annoyance for me was the racer-style driver’s seat with accented side padding that could not be adjusted, or deflated.  So unless you’re the size of the typical Formula One pilot – say 5-7 and 145 pounds – those pads are going to dig into your upper torso.  Perhaps if you drive the car often enough, the seat molds to your body frame.  Frankly, I don’t know the answer to that one.

What I do know is that your neighbors will likely flip out at the sight of this FR-S, because really, it looks like a $50,000 number sitting in your driveway.  You’re under no obligation to tell anyone that the sticker price is about half that.

And you don’t have to spill the beans on the gas mileage, which is very good for a spunky performer in this segment – 25 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.

Interior standard features are pretty impressive in this price segment.  They include leather trimmed touches and aluminum sport pedals/scuff plates.  Adds to the whole sports car experience, I say.

And I’m not the only one liking this vehicle: It was named “Hottest Sport Compact” at the recent Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas.

A few years ago, I’m not sure I’d have taken a bet that Scion would produce such a stout, sporty car.

Happily, I would have been wrong.

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