2014 Scion FR-S - Tangerine Drift Dream - Review

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WANTED:

-  ONE front-engine, rear drive 2+2 coupe sports car that won't break the bank and can drift with the best of them.

REPLY:

- ONE Hot Lava 2014 Scion FR-S (Front engine, Rear-wheel drive - Sport)

COMMISSIONED:

-  by Toyota, in a nod to the AE86 Corolla GT-S, hence the GT86 model name outside North America.

ASSEMBLED:

- by Subaru, whose parent, Fuji Heavy Industries, happens to be 16.5% owned by Toyota. Subaru also makes a BRZ version.

Donated by Toyota:

- 2000GT shape, as in long hood with raked windscreen, and fastback roof-line. Though the 2000GT followed the Jaguar E-Type it emulated, the FR-S pre-dates the current Jag F-Type.

- Front fender, opposed piston "86" emblems

- 6-speed fully synchronized manual transmission by 30% Toyota-owned Aisin Seiki.

- Torsen limited slip rear-differential

- Toyota D-4S 8 fuel injector Direct + Sequential Fuel Injection systems. Denoted in Subaru FA20D engine model.

- Selectable slip-control modes

Made by Subie:

- Platform

- Final assembly at Subaru's Gunma, Japan main plant next to Subaru BR-Z/ Toyota GT86 sister cars, and the Impreza.

- "Subaru" is pressed throughout the edges of ventral body panels.

- 2.0L twin-cam gas flat-four (boxer) engine with Subaru variable valve timing. Pistons reciprocating horizontally places more engine mass closer to the ground.

- Sound made by horizontally pumping pistons is invigorating.

- Lower center of gravity requires less suspension travel, permitting greater flexibility for softer rebound with stiffer (lower) springs.

Hot Lava Flows:

- For  a naturally aspirated Otto engine, it's amazing how much torque is always one down-shift away. Mazda's MX-5 "Miata"  might have the shorter gear-lever throw you couldn't blow a shift in Scion FR-S even if you tried. The clutch disengages closer to the bottom of the reasonably light pedal travel, making for swift two-step.

- Nebraska flat body motions cope with understeer in the FR-S.  Permeating corners with opposite lock butt first may be hairier than in the MX-5, but it's also more fun.

- Column mounted electric steering assist makes for a light helm, the better to go with the fast manual rack. Brakes, nothing exotic, respond aptly to a good heel-to-toe thrashing.

- For competition upgrades there are  Toyota Racing Development  and aftermarket tuners, the likes of  GReddy , waiting in the wings with trinkets.

Dreamsicle Center:

- Body hugging front buckets aren't for the wider of hip or shoulder, yet possess road-trip tolerable cushion. Velour cloth coverings this grippy double as lint magnets. Less useful are loop fabric seat belt locators.

- A properly thick, leather wrapped tilt steering wheel tilts slightly and barely telescopes. These days it looks naked bearing no entertainment switches. (Toyota insists on a column mounted cruise control stalk.)

- Dash-top is pliable, contrasting red stitching adorns seats, steering wheel and center stack partition. All pedals, living and dead,  and rocker panel are covered in dimpled aluminum.

- Creaks are rare, wind or road noise sufficiently muted convey a tight build to the Scion FR-S.

- 300 watt Pioneer sound system w/ HD Radio and Bluetooth phone + streaming USB audio are standard. Scion throws in a low-resolution, small icon 6.1" LCD touch display. Bespoke Audio navigation +  infotainment apps by A-Ha, is a dealer-installed option.

Ashes:

For a car so light the doors are so heavy.  ✔ Minimal door, glove box and and only barely better center console storage.   Some switchgear and vent grilles look so Corolla basic.  Why bother with the analog speedo to the left of the center tachometer containing its own LED speed display?  Back seat is a "Ciabatta Box"; the trunk a "Quatre Baguette Box". Saving grace: the seat back folds.

Peanut Butter Cup:

Our Hot Lava 2014 Scion FR-S tester, with must-have TRD cat-back exhaust, pipes in at very reasonable $27,534! After our final drift session in the sweet FR-S, "Drive...He Said" agrees with H.B. Reese that great tastes can derive from the unlikeliest of collaborations.

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