Scion finally went ahead and did something we've been hoping for since Toyota's younger sibling first came around to play. It has finally brought us a sexy little RWD coupe. Not that there was anything wrong with Scion's previous coupe, the TC, or its other small, cheeky, boxy econocars. But this new one, the FR-S, really raises the bar for Toyota's youth-oriented brand.
The FR-S is a coupe that seats four adults (in theory) although the driver will definitely be having the most fun. A thrifty but peppy direct-injected, 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine delivers 200-horsepower and mates to a six-speed manual transmission that's equipped with a limited slip differential for extra control. Though the engine is front-mounted, it sits low in the bay to provide a low center of gravity, and the car is grounded by a sport suspension with 17-inch-wheels that fit over vented disc brakes. The interior is sporty and comfortable -- well designed for spirited driving.
So what landed the Scion FR-S on our list, rather than Subaru's new platform-shared coupe, the BRZ? After all, the coupes were a joint development venture between Subaru and Scion. As a result, the looks are similar, mechanicals are the same and the base price difference is negligible (although, of course, actual purchase prices vary widely). In cases like this, buying one over the other comes down to factors like brand loyalty or exterior color options. But the FR-S represents more of a departure from Scion's direction; it's the kind of car that has potential to move the brand forward. (Not that the BRZ is any less of an accomplishment, but Subaru's buyers have always known that the capabilities of their reliable family wagons could also be adapted into really fun sport coupes.) Maybe it just took a partnership with Subaru for this car to develop. Or maybe Scion's just been waiting for its early adopters to grow up. Either way, let's just be happy the FR-S is here for 2013.