The Scion FR-S and Subaru BR-Z both share the same platform and essentially both are the same vehicle. Only difference is a few cosmetic tweaks. Picking between the two all comes down to the badge. But is it a false economy picking the Scion over the Subaru?
Performance: The sole engine choice for the FR-S is the shared 2-liter Boxer four-cylinder which produces 200hp. On paper the FR-S lightweight rear-wheel-drive layout means that this engine is all you’ll really need. In reality however things aren’t even close. You’ll have to thrash the engine to get the most out of it unless you stick with the manual gearbox which seems to really work well with the engine. We wish that the FR-S had more power to play with.
On the road: The ride is firm but far from uncomfortable. The trade-off is that handling is really good. The lightweight design of the chassis means that the FR-S has real agility and loves to kick its tail out at any given bend or corner you hurl it into. Steering feedback is what you’d expect from a sports car. It’s quick, precise and agile. The engine sounds good when you thrash it. Wind and road noise will enter the cabin at high levels.
Behind the wheel: We found it quite easy to get comfortable behind the wheel. There’s plenty of adjustments for the driver’s seat and the switchgear used is simple. The touch screen infotainment system is just too fiddly to navigate through with confusing menus and small on-screen icons. The front seats offer plenty of space while the rear seats are completely useless. Headroom and legroom are way too tight for an adult passenger and foot space is almost nonexistent. You’re better off using the boot space for extra luggage space.
Equipment: The FR-S offers plenty of kit for the money. Alloy wheels are standard as well as cd-player, electric windows, keyless entry and cruise control. You’ll have to pay extra for a touch screen infotainment system which we say its best avoided because it’s just too fiddly to operate while on the go. But it’s the cheapest option for one we’ve seen so far.
Buying & owning: The FR-S seems like a good bargain on paper. A lightweight rear-wheel-drive coupe with decent turn of pace and overall satisfying driving experience; it’s hard to justify one when you’ve got so many indirect rivals that are more refined interior wise and have more power to spare. Resale value should be good as these vehicles have been selling quite well.
Quality & safety: All you need to know is Toyota builds both the FR-S and BR-Z with Subaru supplying the engine. This combo of excellent engineering should give you piece of mind. Although the interior is drab and feels very cheap in places. Stability control, anti-lock brakes with traction control are all standard. Plus smart stop technology as well to help aid in braking. There are front and side curtain airbags standard as well in case you do find yourself in an accident.
Overall: The Scion FR-S is a great lightweight rear-wheel-drive coupe that’s fun to toss around and even more fun to thrash that great sounding engine. However, there are a few negatives and these really make it hard for us to justify buying one. The interior is just too drab for our taste and the engine output is modest best unless you can drive the manual gearbox, which we think is the only way to make the most of the engine. If you like a rear-wheel-drive car for cheap this is your ticket.
Likes: Loves to be tossed in corners. Engine begs to be thrashed and when it does the engine soundtrack is lovely. Manual gearbox is the only way to really enjoy it.
Dislikes: Interior quality is rubbish. More power please. Rear seats are utterly useless.