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The 2015 Scion FR-S strips the sports coupe back to its essence of light, nimble, fun-to-drive spirit, then adds back just enough of the conveniences of modern technology and the benefits of today’s safety. It’s among the purest of enthusiast cars on the market today, and it’s an affordable, engaging drive.
This little Scion still touts the brand's economical and relatively practical qualities, but that's not necessarily the focus for the FR-S. Instead, this Subaru-built, Toyota-designed sports coupe is engineered for fun above all else.
It's powered by a 2.0-liter horizontally-opposed four-cylinder that produces 200 horsepower. Torque is a low point with this particular engine, especially in the low-rev range. You can run the car all the way up to its 7,400-rpm redline, though, where you'll find a little more power when you need it.
Steering is a bit of a low point, with the electric power assist taking out much of the feel, leaving behind an intuitive and quick, but not very communicative, wheel. The brakes are easy to modulate and adequate to the car's weight and tire fitment, easily surviving a half-dozen laps on track or a long, fast canyon run.
Once you've reconciled yourself with grabbing the flat four by the nape of its neck and squeezing for all it's worth, the FR-S becomes a second skin. Nimble, light (by modern standards), and incredibly neutral in its balance, the Scion FR-S captures the essence of what a sports car should be: honest, inexpensive fun.
Simple surfaces and classic proportions give the outline of the FR-S. Details at the nose and tail give a modern, aerodynamic look to the car. Inside, the 2015 Scion FR-S is basic, but well-built and handsome, if not quite beautiful.
Sitting the FR-S isn't a chore, either. Though there's a sound pipe to bring some of the car's growling engine note into the cabin, very little actual exhaust noise is heard at all. Wind and road noise can become prominent at speeds above 70 mph.
But the seats, in the front, are where the FR-S's interior really shines. Well-bolstered, comfortable, with plenty of leg and hip room for larger and taller drivers, the front seats are an excellent offering for a production vehicle. The rear seat is best reserved for children and shorter adults, though it is serviceable for even six-footers in a pinch.
On the equipment front, there's not much to talk about: the Scion FR-S only has a few choices to be made. Fortunately, those choices include available premium audio with apps capability, while standard gear includes Bluetooth, keyless entry, and climate control.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the FR-S a five-star overall score, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has rated it 'good' in all categories--save for an Acceptable score in the new small overlap frontal category, still good enough for a Top Safety Pick award.
The 2015 Scion FR-S hasn't been crash-tested yet, but it is unchanged from the 2013 model year, so it should score well. Last year's results didn't include small-overlap front tests, however. With six airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control all among the standard safety equipment, we expect the 2015 Scion FR-S to be a good performer in future crash testing.