Judging by its performance at the 2011 New York Auto Show, Scion is poised to add a serious dose of excitement to its lineup. The compact world has been set abuzz by the unveiling of the Scion FR-S Sports coupe, a vehicle that looks ready to provide Scion fans with a pure performance option.
The letters FR-S stand for “Front-engine, Rear-wheel drive, Sport,” elements that give the beautifully styled two-door a definite edge when it comes to carving out a niche among driving enthusiasts. It also doesn’t hurt that the Scion FR-S Concept is a gorgeous interpretation of what a modern sports coupe should look like with aggressive wheel arches, a mammoth air intake gaping from the front fascia and a swept roofline that drops precipitously down to a very practical rear hatch opening.
Spiritually, the Scion FR-S is linked to the Toyota AE86, a compact coupe that capture the imaginations of not just 1980’s performance fans, but also future generations who adopted the automobile as one of the touchstones of the drifting scene. The FR-S thoroughly updates the AE86’s core attributes of balance and low mass, giving it the neutral and predictable handling that is prized by sports car drivers.
Under the hood of the FR-S lurks a four-cylinder boxer engine with horizontally opposed cylinders that help keep the vehicle’s center of gravity low to the ground. The engine combines Toyota’s D4-S direct and port fuel injection system, and also benefits from co-developer Subaru’s years of experience producing exactly this type of design in its rally-focused performance cars. The four-cylinder engine is matched with the choice of either a six-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel paddleshifters for manual control, or a six-speed manual.
Aiding the Scion FR-S Concept’s fun-to-drive nature is 20-inch performance rubber wrapped around Five Axis monoblock wheels, staggered to be wider at the rear than the front, and four-piston caliper front brakes that grab onto 18-inch carbon ceramic rotors. A limited-slip rear differential ensures that all the Scion’s power makes it down to the pavement without a hint of wheelspin, although hooligan parking lot antics are of course still possible through the judicious over application of power.
The FR-S Concept points in an exciting direction for Scion, a legitimate performance contender that adds an all-new dimension to Scion’s already engaging lineup. Mixing sublime beauty and the excellent power that Scion owners expect, the Scion FR-S is exactly the right vehicle at exactly the right time.