Saturday, March 16, 2013
I arrived 45 minutes early to a lunch appointment so I went across the street to the Toyota/Scion dealership. The non-pushy salesman was bored and asked if I wanted to test drive the FR-S. Why not?
Exterior: The car is quite attractive and compact and reminiscent of the hot hatches of the 1980s and early 1990s. It's low but not hard to get into, even for this out-of-shape guy. It was only after the test drive that I realized the strange looking tires are shared with the Prius. I opened the trunk, thinking it was a hatch. Nope, it's just a small boot lid covering a small (but not tiny) compartment.
Interior: The racing-style seats make you wonder if 5-point seat belts are an option. There is zero legroom for the rear passengers. It's simply vestigial. The front occupant compartment is snug but not claustrophobic. The layout is not particularly ergonomic and seems ill-conceived and cobbled together from various parts bins. The radio interface rivals that of a 1980s GM-Delco head unit.
Driving: But none of that matters because it's a $25,000 sports car. As soon as you get in the car, it begs to be tossed around corners at high speeds. The six-speed shifter was competent. The clutch pedal was a bit too light for my tastes. The steering was precise and gave plenty of feedback. There was plenty of pep from the four-cylinder. I only revved it up to around 4500 rpm. The engine sound was not memorable.
Verdict: If I were single and younger, I would definitely consider this car. Very few options are offered because Toyota's target buyers do not want them or cannot afford them. They just want a pure sports car on the cheap, and that's exactly what they are going to get.