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    Quick Drive: 2013 Scion FR-S


    Drew Dowdell
    • September 28th, 2012

      Drew Dowdell - Managing Editor

      CheersandGears.com

    Suddenly it’s 1986. There is a lightweight and nimble sports car from a Japanese manufacturer on the market that completely eschews what the American three are doing in the sports car segment. Only, it’s not 1986; vehicle weights have pushed upwards and outwards for past 30 years to the point where Chevrolet is now marketing its top of the line Camaro with a curb weight that makes a 1986 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight look positively anorexic. Sure, Chevy compensates for the chub by equipping the Camaro ZL1 with a tire shredding 580 horsepower V8 and an advanced magnetic suspension that does all the right things keep the Camaro on the tarmac, but eventually it starts to feel like you are piloting the world’s best handling 747. It is raucous and fun, but requires concentration and skill to keep things from going wrong.

    A full paragraph into a Scion FR-S quick drive and I’ve only talked about Chevys and Oldsmobiles. Back in the 1986, Toyota introduced a new Supra. It was not a muscle car in the tradition of the V8 powered pony cars from Detroit, but it had speed and agility from being blessed with a curb weight of about 3,000lbs and a 200 horsepower I-6. It was also intended to be a technological showcase for Toyota. As such, the price tag was relatively high.

    sml_gallery_51_475_1092099.png
    The FR-S is a return to this idea of light weight over raw muscle making the FR-S very refreshing to drive. The FR-S’ single biggest advantage is its low weight platform. At about 2800 pounds with an automatic transmission, the FR-S is a feather-weight in this class. The light weight also allows Toyota to equip the car with a 200 horsepower / 151 lb-ft flat-four engine jointly developed with Subaru to give the FR-S sporty performance without the raw muscle. The flat-four also lowers the center of gravity on the car to further improve cornering.

    During my drive of the FR-S, I found a light-weight, nimble, and carefree sports car with just enough kick to keep things fun. Low end torque is superb with more than a few instances of chirping the tires unintentionally at take off. Those of you hunting for raw V8 muscle will probably be disappointed, but the FR-S makes up for it with its willingness to be thrown around a corner and an engine note that will please almost any gearhead. Power is routed through a 6-speed manual or automatic to the rear wheels like its Supra predecessor. Steering is quick and precise with only a minor quibble with on-center feel; in either direction just off center, the FR-S doesn’t seem to want to pull back to center nicely. This leaves you making frequent minor adjustments on longer straight roads. Though quite sporty and nimble, the FR-S doesn’t punish you with a harsh ride.

    sml_gallery_51_475_207080.png
    Toyota pressed the reset button on the interior as well. The interior FR-S is at once modern and retro. My first thought when sitting in the car was the thought that this is what would happen if Toyota tried to re-create the spirit of the ’86 Supra without duplicating the look. This is not a bad thing; it is actually refreshing in an age of highly complicated interiors.

    Getting in is surprisingly easy for such a low car and I found a comfortable seating position right away. Toyota even equips the FR-S with an old school double-DIN head unit so the owner can swap in something more to his or her own liking if they wish. The head unit does include Bluetooth for hands-free calling, but that’s about the extent of the technology there. The version I drove was an automatic, but the look and gate of the shifter could fool your friends and neighbors into thinking you bought row-your-own. The rear seat is essentially unusable for adults unless the driver is very cramped or very short. Forward visibility is excellent, but I found visibility while backing up to be a bit more limited.

    Checking in with a base price of $24,955 and without high end technology or interior room, the Scion is not a Supra replacement no matter how hard the buff mags wish it. But that price makes the Scion an interesting alternative to the Camaro ($24,245 with steel wheels) and Mustang ($22,995).

    The Scion FR-S was one of my favorite drives during my time in Monticello, NY. It is just the car to hop in and go for a carefree ride on rolling country back roads with the windows down on a nice fall day. I hope to spend more time in one soon.

    The full gallery of pictures from the IMPA Test days is located here and will continue to be built as quick drive reviews are added:

    Year: 2013

    Make: Scion

    Model: FR-S

    Engine: 2.0 Liter horizontally opposed 4-cylinder with Direct and Port Injection

    Drive line: Rear wheel drive, 6-speed automatic transmission

    Horsepower @ RPM: 200 @ 7000 RPM

    Torque @ RPM: 151 @ 6400 RPM

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway: 25/34

    Location of Manufacture: Japan

    Base Price: $24,955

    Est. As Tested Price: $25,300

    Drew Dowdell is Managing Editor of CheersandGears.com and can be reached at Drew.Dowdell@CheersandGears.com or on twitter as @cheersngears

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    I wish Oldsmobile were still around to build a sweet little ride like this. It reminds me of the Quad 4 Calais, another small, nimble, good handling car, only it came from GM.

    Sadly, GM seems to have abandoned the small coupe segment, and after raising 5 kids, I think I'm pretty much done buying 4 door cars.

    NICE review, thanks for writing it. This may well be my next car, although I like the Focus ST and the GTI as well.

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    I'm jealous you got to drive one without the begging drone of a salesperson in the passenger seat. While I'd purchase the Subaru on principle, the truth is, both of these are delicious throwbacks to a better era. I am thankful they're on the market.

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    I'm hoping that Subaru brings one to the MAMA meet on Wednesday. I didn't drive the Subi at IMPA because I wanted to try for a variety of cars and had limited time.

    I'm surprised I haven't had more reaction from this review, I believe it is the first Toyota product to actually be reviewed by a staff member here.

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    It's always good news when there is a new RWD coupe entry into the market, but this is still a Toyota, so the interest here is bound to be tepid at best.

    Bring on the Code 130R.

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    So they have a stupid high HP motor with no Torque. Another ugly design like the Honda S2000. I see no purpose or use for cars like this other than stupid young people driving them with no skill causing more accidents.

    If they actually put some style into it like the Supra had from the 80's it would be far better, but the outside is a jelly bean to me which I hate that look and the inside is a blah layout.

    For having gone to college in Japan, I have seen much better auto's on the street over there compared to this. I do not understand why they think the American public is freak-in conservative in willing to deal with new technology and pushing the style envelope.

    Sadder yet is that the American car companies seem to ignore building a solid light weight commuter car that can have style and speed.

    Perfect option would be for Chevy to build the 130R with a Katech 285 Push rod V4. This would rock everyone's world.

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    I don't have torque graphs handy, but this car is light enough and geared right for enthusiastic driving. I wouldn't call it torque deficient at all, it was right where it needed to be. Subaru boxer engines have always been good at low end grunt... that they added direct injection to it only makes that better.

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    Common wisdom tells us to never buy the first production year of any automobile, since that’s when all the bugs not found in pre-production testing tend to surface. In the case of a car as anticipated as the Scion FR-S (or Subaru BRZ), sometimes emotion wins out over common sense.

    As early buyers of the FR-S and BRZ are finding out, some cars aren’t quite flawless in execution. Autoweek reports that owners of early production models from both manufacturers are reporting intermittent rough idle and engine stalling issues related to ECU programming.

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    This IS Junk. I also have an upcoming "road test" with this car and a Ford ...wait and see just how awful the Toyopet product actually is.

    Toyopet, huh? Are you Sixty-8 in disguise or something?

    Seriously though, I know you're entitled to your opinion, but the FR-S/GT-86/BR-Z has proven itself to be a good sports car and the issue you mentioned can be easily sorted out with a quick ECU reflash. It isn't like the engine is developing sludge issues at 5,000 miles or anything stupid like that.

    Edited by black-knight
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    It isn't like the engine is developing sludge issues at 5,000 miles or anything stupid like that.

    ....WAIT for it !!!

    Honest, It IS Just a matter of time before this too becomes another RECALL victim...and really Who wants another Celica anyway ??

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      Press Release is on Page 2



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      Click here to view the article
    • By William Maley
      For something a bit surprising. This morning, Toyota has announced that the Scion brand will be shuttered and the current lineup will transition over to the Toyota brand for the 2017 model year.
       
      News of this was first reported by CarBuzzard where a meeting was held yesterday with Scion employees notified of the decision.
       
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      Scion was first introduced back in 2002 as a brand that was very different from Toyota as it was aimed at young buyers. It was fun and offered unique vehicles (the xA and xB at launch). The brand also did things a bit differently with a unique marketing campaign and a no haggle policy. Toyota hoped customers who bought Scions would transition into Toyota and Lexus vehicles in the future.
       
      But a number of issues plagued Scion which ultimately led to its downfall,
      The average age of Scion buyer was around 49 years old, not the young crowd Scion was hoping for (some reports put it at 15 percent of Scion customers were under the age of 35). Scion not updating their lineup at a decent rate and letting models languish Massive sales decline from 175,000 vehicles in 2006 (their best year) to 56,167 vehicles for 2015

      But it seemed last year Toyota was going to give the brand so much needed attention with the launch of the iA (Mazda2 sedan) and iM (Toyota Auris). There was also a new subcompact crossover that would be joining the lineup for 2017, the C-HR. But sadly, it was a little too late. The damage was done and Toyota realized there wasn't any way to save the brand.
       

      The twenty-two dedicated team members for Scion will be able to transition into positions at Toyota.
       
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      Source: CarBuzzard.com, Motor Trend, Road & Track, Scion
      Picture: William Maley for Cheers & Gears
       
      Press Release is on Page 2


       
      Scion Brand to Transition to Toyota
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      TORRANCE, Calif., Feb. 3, 2016 – Scion, established as a separate brand in 2003 as a laboratory to explore new products and processes to attract youth customers, is now transitioning back to the Toyota brand. Scion achieved its goals of developing unique products and processes, and bringing in new, younger customers to Toyota. With more than a million cars sold, 70 percent of Scions were purchased by customers new to Toyota and 50 percent were under 35 years old.
       

      “This isn’t a step backward for Scion; it’s a leap forward for Toyota. Scion has allowed us to fast track ideas that would have been challenging to test through the Toyota network,” said Jim Lentz, founding vice president of Scion and now CEO, Toyota Motor North America. “I was there when we established Scion and our goal was to make Toyota and our dealers stronger by learning how to better attract and engage young customers. I’m very proud because that’s exactly what we have accomplished.
       
      “We could not have achieved the success we have had without the incredible support of Scion’s customers, dealers and team members, so supporting them throughout this transition process will be one of our top priorities,” said Lentz.
       
      Toyota’s decision was made in response to customers’ needs. Today’s younger buyers still want fun-to-drive vehicles that look good, but they are also more practical. They, like their parents, have come to appreciate the Toyota brand and its traditional attributes of quality, dependability and reliability. At the same time, new Toyota vehicles have evolved to feature the dynamic styling and handling young people desire.
       
      Scion has consistently been the youngest brand in the auto industry with an average age of 36 years old. At 29, the tC sports coupe has the lowest-average age buyer in the industry. The most recent additions to the line-up, the iA sedan and iM 5-door hatchback, are bringing in new buyers with 70 percent being first-time new car purchasers. Additionally, more than 50 percent of iM and iA buyers are under 35 years old.
       
      As part of the brand transition, beginning in August 2016, MY17 Scion vehicles will be rebadged as Toyotas. The FR-S sports car, iA sedan and iM 5-door hatchback will become part of the Toyota family. The tC sports coupe will have a final release series edition and end production in August 2016. The C-HR, which recently debuted at the L.A. Auto Show, will be a part of the Toyota line-up.
       
      The service and repair process for Scion customers will be unaffected by this change as customers will continue to visit Toyota dealerships’ service departments.
       
      “We appreciate our 1,004 Scion dealers and the support they’ve given the brand,” said Bob Carter, Toyota senior vice president of automotive operations. “We believe our dealers have gained valuable insights and have received a strong return on their investment. During this time of transition, we will work closely with them to support this process and help communicate this change to customers.”
       
      Scion’s 22 dedicated team members, who represent sales, marketing, distribution, strategy, and product and accessories planning, will have the opportunity to take on new jobs at Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. in Torrance. Scion regional representatives will assume different responsibilities in their respective Toyota sales offices.
       
      “Scion has had some amazing products over the years and our current vehicles are packed with premium features at value prices,” said Andrew Gilleland, Scion vice president. “It’s been a great run and I’m proud that the spirit of Scion will live on through the knowledge and products soon to be available through the Toyota network.”
       
      Scion Accomplishments:
      Scion Processes - Scion served as a laboratory for products and key sales and marketing processes that have provided valuable lessons for other Toyota brands: Pure Pricing – dealers set a price for a car and customers did not need to negotiate Mono-Spec cars – providing cars with only two options: transmission and color Personalization – offering a large array of accessories to help customers customize their vehicles Pure Process – transparent financing process Pure Process Plus – an online system so much of the car-purchase process could be completed online Scion Service Boost – pre-paid maintenance plan Release Series – dynamic life cycle management through special features and options Grassroots marketing – initial Scion brand was “discovered” by customers through unique events Scion Products -- Scion has had some outstanding products that have made an impact in the industry including the original “box,” the xB and the FR-S affordable sports car. The tC sports coupe has consistently attracted the youngest buyer in the industry.

      Scion Executives -- Scion served as an important training ground for Toyota vice presidents, many of whom have been promoted to other roles:
      Jim Lentz -- Chief Executive Officer, Toyota Motor North America Mark Templin – Managing Officer, Toyota Motor Corporation, Executive Vice President, Lexus International Jack Hollis – Group Vice President, Toyota Marketing Doug Murtha – Group Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Planning, Toyota Motor North America Andrew Gilleland – current Vice President, Scion

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      “The industry is off to a healthy start in 2016,” said Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager for the Toyota division. “For Toyota Division, RAV4 led the way with a record January and pick-up truck sales continued to rise, setting a new January Toyota division light truck record.”
       
      Lexus reported January 2016 sales of 20,933 units, a decrease of 9.5 percent on a volume basis.
       
      “The appetite for crossovers and SUVs in the luxury market has continued to drive customers to Lexus,” commented Jeff Bracken, Lexus group vice president and general manager. “In January, our new vehicle sales were propelled by the all-new RX crossover and the NX, which continue to exceed sales forecasts.”
       
      January 2016 Highlights:
      Combined TMS light truck sales of 84,841, up 4.4 percent RAV4 posts best-ever January with sales of 21,554 units; up 8.7 percent Highlander reports best January sales since 2008 of 11,258 vehicles 4Runner and Sienna up 7.9 and 23 percent respectively Tacoma is up 11.5 percent Camry sales up year-over-year NX up 11.4 percent RX up 5.9 percent at 6,956 units LX up 99.7 percent
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