A collaboratively produced 200-horsepower four-cylinder engine drives the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission or available six-speed automatic.
For Subaru, the BRZ is the exception to its all-wheel-drive-lineup rule. For Toyota’s Scion branch, the nearly identical FR-S represents the flagship model that the brand has needed since its 2004 inception. The “Front-engine, Rear-wheel-drive Sport’s” long-hood-short-deck proportions are right on the money and the low hood, muscular fenders and curvy roofline give it a poised, gimmick-free appearance. In only its third year, Scion is already making small changes, including adapting a shark-fin antenna and larger and flusher exhaust tips. This is a real driving machine, so shift-indicator lights on the tach can be set at 100-rpm increments starting from 2,000 rpm up to the engine’s 7,400-rpm redline. The driver can also engage a warning chime that goes off when the engine’s max rev limit is about to be reached. As with Subaru’s BRZ, the FR-S employs a 200-horsepower 2.0-liter “flat” four-cylinder engine (one bank of two pistons fires at 180 degrees to the opposite two pistons). A six-speed manual transmission is standard with a six-speed automatic available as an option. The latter features steering-wheel-mounted paddle-shift controls, rev-matching downshifts plus a “sport” mode that delivers faster shifts and throttle response. The powertrain sits well back of the front wheels to optimize distribution of the car’s svelte 2,760-pound front:rear heft at 53:47. Fuel economy is rated at 25 mpg city and 34 highway for the automatic (22/30 for manual-gearbox versions). However those numbers are offset by the engine’s requirement for more expensive premium fuel. The 2015 FR-S gets a stiffer front suspension and re-tuned rear dampers to reduce body roll. Every FR-S is shipped from its Japan homeland with the expected load of standard gear plus aluminum sport pedals, Michelin Primacy rubber fitted to a neat set of 17-inch wheels, and an updated 6.1-inch touchscreen audio system. The host of available dealer add-ons includes a premium audio package, fog lights, rear spoiler, sport exhaust system, 18-inch wheels, performance brake pads and a cold air intake for a richer air/fuel mixture and a bit more power and sound.