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Test Drive ANNLimited – 2013 Scion FRS Review

Ann Morey August 23, 2013 Reviews, Scion Reviews, Test Drive ANNLimited 40 Comments

Scion FRS reviewI get it. I totally get it. I understand why people say you don’t even care that this car is slow when you drive it. Because it is f***ing fun. Seriously, don’t say this car is slow/underpowered without driving it first.

The salesman at the Toyota/Scion dealership actually seemed to like cars and was excited to go out in the FR-S with me. There must not be a lot of women interested in these cars, because at first he was like, “You want to go out in an FR-S?” But he got over it pretty quickly once he realized he didn’t have to explain to me what a boxer engine is. 


When I got in the car, I felt like it was designed just for me. The driving position was perfect – low slug and leaned back. The interior was basic and uncluttered. No power seats, no climate control, not even a radio! (The sales dude assured me it was not radio delete- he didn’t know what happened to it.) The back seat is super tiny, though, I don’t even know if you could put one adult back there for a short trip.

Scion FRS missing radioThe clutch is finicky on this car – the engagement point is one specific spot. The shifter felt a bit more like the Civic than the G37. It’s definitely a transmission that would take more getting used to.

Driving this car is SO FUN. It’s tiny and it rides really hard and you’re sitting right on the ground. The steering is tight and accurate. It does literally feel like a go cart. And even though I know it wasn’t as fast as the G37, it felt faster because you feel so connected to the road. This car begs you to push it to its limits. That revy little engine sounds great and you feel like a race car driver/are in a Fast and Furious movie as you shift it right before it hits the redline.

Seriously, I didn’t want to bring this little guy back to the dealership.

But, that being said, I could definitely tell this car didn’t have the horsepower like the M3 or even the G37. You need to be in the higher RPM ranges to have fun. It doesn’t have the POWER EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME feeling that the higher horsepower/more torquey engines have. That’s one thing I love about that big old big block in the Charger- you can just feel the power all the time.

The thing that gives me the biggest pause, though, is the size. This little guy is tiny. I don’t know if the trunk would even accommodate my big suitcase. I don’t know if I’m okay with not having a functional back seat. But damn, that car is fun.

Up Next: 2004 BMW 330Ci, 2011 Mustang GT, 2012 Nissan 370Z Coupe

Ann Morey isn’t an automotive journalist, but she’s probably doing a better job of it than most of us. She’s a mid career marketing manager who only recently learned how to drive a manual transmission. She’s got a classic Charger in the garage and a boring Accord in need of replacement, so she’s out to test drive every mid-20-thousands dollar sports car out there. Her test drives run Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

You can see the rest of the series here: Test Drive ANNLimited

  • Jodark

  • Dan.K

    Most boring review ever.
    You are basically repeating what every reviews said about this cars for 2 years now, nothing new.

    • Scandinavian Flick ★

      I get the impression you are completely missing the point of this series. Which is interesting, considering it's clearly stated at the bottom of the review that you claim to have read.

    • Kogashiwa

      It's completely new. She's never driven one before and never shared her impressions of one before. Now get back under your bridge.

    • BobWellington

      Why do people like you have to exist?

  • coocoocahchoo

    Do you plan on buying any of these are just test driving them under the guise of purchasing?

    • theannm

      I do plan on buying one! It may not be for a few months though, as I've got some job/life things to sort out and am considering moving to a less snowy climate, which might impact my decision.

      • coocoocahchoo

        Cool, was just wondering because of the amount of reviews, that's a lot of cars to go through in a short time and if I was trying to sell them I could understand being a little annoyed. Didn't mean to offend y'all.

        • skitter

          You're good. Don't sweat it.

      • R.L. Elliott

        What model year classic Charger do you have?? 🙂

  • Van_Sarockin

    Nice review. First hand observations, plainly stated biases and interests, no guesses, sugarcoating, or third party spin.

    • Scandinavian Flick ★

      I'm not sure what's going on in these comments… You keep getting down voted…

      Edit: Jebus, voting is all over the place. Hella people up in here… Is this linked somewhere?

      • Van_Sarockin

        I do? Whatevs. Hey, nice start you got there, slick.

        • Scandinavian Flick ★

          Well that sure turned around. When I typed the first part, you were at -1, (now positive 7) and the comment from Dan.K was at positive 5. (Now at -7) Yeah, it's a bit weird up in here…

          • <img src=";

          • Van_Sarockin

            I know. It's almost like someone said something bad about a Polish car!

  • JayP2112

    My pal and I are at odds about the FRSBRZ- He drove a manual on the street but I tried an automatic at 7/10s at the track. I loved it, he hated it. I made a good case that he needed to toss it around the track to get a better idea about the car. And I made a good case he has no clue what he was talking about.

    When these hit the used market, the track guys will buy them up.

  • skitter

    I assume you're keeping the Charger? Sounds like they might make a perfect two-car garage, both always reminding you of how good you have it with the other. Like when I went from my Econoline to my Accord. Like when I go from the Walmart 29" to the painstakingly specced and tailored road bike. Straight line, mid range, you'll appreciate what a rocketship the Charger is. Mid-corner, redline, you'll fall for the FR-S all over again.

    • Scandinavian Flick ★

      This is pretty much what I was thinking, and trying to figure out how to put it. If one has the means to have multiple cars, it's nice to have cars that are great at certain things, rather than having to figure out a catch-all single car that's just pretty good at everything.

      • My strategy is to have one car that's good at one thing, and then just not do those other things.

        Sure hope I never have to move.

    • theannm

      I am keeping the Charger! I'd like to trade/sell my Accord, because 3 cars seems like too much for me right now. I currently store the Charger in the winter, so whatever I buy would have to be my DD all winter long. But, I'm also considering relocating to somewhere less snowy, which makes the 2 car lifestyle more do-able. I could always take the Charger if I needed more space for people or stuff if I wasn't worried about the road salt.

    • Rover1

      You hipster! What was wrong with the Walmart 26"er?

      • skitter

        Not heavy or inconvenient enough.

  • david42

    If you're considering an FRS, why not also look at a Miata? True, the FRS has a rear seat, but it's barely usable. The Miata's trunk is probably bigger than you're expecting, you get a convertible! And from what I recall of the FRS/BRZ reviews from when they came out, the Miata still has better handling.

    • theannm

      Miata will be considered!

  • robertog

    Position yourself as the expert, be-little those who haven’t yet driven the car.

    Talk about how the sales guy or girl doesn’t know as much about cars as you do, because you are a true gear head!

    Generically describe a car interior; then, make an emotionally charged statement about how a certain element made you feel.

    Use a bunch of sentences to describe a manual transmission car; real car people LOVE manuals.

    Driving, fun, tiny, rides hard, cars are close to the ground, tight, accurate, responsive, emotional connection that doesn’t tell anyone anything, act like you’re talking to the car – be specifically vague and remind the reader you’re a woman.

    You’re in love with the car BUT

    This car isn’t for you because, too big, too small, too slow, too fast, too much torque, not enough room, cramped, etc. etc. Deflect the fact you’re joy-riding cars and not in the market to purchase a car (yes, you have a disclaimer saying you're 'in the market for every sports car in the $20k range', lol) by mentioning which car you’re reviewing next!

    • Scandinavian Flick ★

      Roberto! Ha! Long time no see, you lovable Italian troll monger you!

      Still your old self I see. Good man. How's the Aveo?

      • Byline: Roberto

        Despite what the salesperson said, the Aveo is not powered by a small V8. Clearly he wasn't interested in the product but I had done my research (I'm a starred commenter on AveoVortex) and knew he was blowing smoke.

        The interior was finished in Soviet-grade materials, as you'd expect. The seating position was inferior to that provided by the milk crate that currently resides in my '74 Pinto.

        While the throws were nice and short, shifting was so notchy that I couldn't help but scrub 500 rpm every time, despite the fact that I've been driving manuals since exiting the womb.

        I'm a woman trapped in a man's body. As such, the little Aveo was just the right size for me. There's something magical about driving a tiny, slow car at 9/10ths while still (mostlyl) observing traffic ordinances.

        I love this car, but it's a turd. In the end, it's not for me because my three dobermans won't be able to ride with me.

        Next up … my review of a b-spec Olds Achieva.

        • Scandinavian Flick ★

          <img src="; width="200">
          I'm dying here…

  • Nice job Ann. Don't let the trolls get you down, you are awesome at this!

    Also, dudes, HOLY SHITS!!!

    BRZ $18k

  • ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

    The hell is going on here!? You trolls go back to jalopnik or where ever you all came from. Dearthair used to occasionally humorously edit troll comments into fawning praise, that would work here.

    • Van_Sarockin

      We might need to bring back disemvowelling.

      • monkey_tennis

        Or time to wield the burberry banhammer…

    • Must have been another ill-advised format change at Gawker media today.

      • Mechanically Inept

        Zing!

  • It seems that you
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  • Maymar

    I don't know if it's because we're spoiled with a glut of high-power cars, or because my two vehicles combined have 120hp (well, if they're putting out their factory horsepower, given that one's 9 years old, and the other's 28), but I've driven a couple of these (one slushy, one stick), and it's not exactly slow. Mindbendling, earth-shatteringly fast? Absolutely not, but it has no trouble getting to extra-legal speeds quickly.

    And for the record, it's possible (depending on circumstances) to fit an adult in the back seat, but it's not pleasant. I'm 5'9 (30" inseam), and my 5'1 wife fits behind me, although just barely. Inexplicably, I have a friend who's 6'4, and he managed to squeeze his 5'6 girlfriend, and her 6'0+ brother in one.

    I'm very, very tempted by one of these is the availability of cheap RX-8s with a much more car seat-friendly back seat, since we're a single-car family for now, although the FRS's fuel economy and warranty would be tempting.

  • BobWellington

    In a world of long reviews about sometimes boring cars, it's refreshing to read short and to the point reviews of interesting cars. Keep it up, Ann!

    (Not that I don't like long reviews, but it's nice to have a balance.)

    • The side of this I like are the limits to what's actually out there.

      Every forum troll has their favorite unicorn (e.g.: 0-option V6MT Track Pack Mustang), but they're never available when you go shopping with real money for real cars.

  • Conor

    I've driven tons of FR-S in the last year as a Toyota tech. They're pretty boring unless your idea of fun is sliding around on public streets. They're terrible for daily use, ride harshly, come with low-grip, noisy tires, are difficult to get in and out of (and I daily drive a 1993 MR2, so that's saying something), get horrible fuel economy for a 2.0L engine (especially considering the direct injection system) and the clutch pedal so so light that it's neigh-impossible to get a good feel for engagement (muscle memory of the spot is the only way).

    The engine doesn't exactly feel like it wants to be revved up.. at least, not like the 4AGE (the heart and soul of the '86' the FRS is based on). For $26,000 I guess I'm expecting too much these days… but so much of what I dislike about the car could have been prevented :/ I won't be buying one, after getting my hopes up initially.

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