2013 Scion FR-S Review
Unlike many performance-oriented cars that have a driver-focused cockpit, the 2013 Scion FR-S has a symmetrical dash, presumably to control costs in producing both left- and right-hand drive versions. Like all Scions, the instrument cluster and center stack in the FR-S is blissfully clean and simple. Climate controls consist of three large knobs that are easy to see and reach.
At the center of the cockpit is an all-new steering wheel, the smallest on any Scion. At just 14.4 inches in diameter, the wheel is easy to handle on the track. On cars equipped with the automatic transmission, paddle shifters are attached to the wheel, rather than affixed to the steering column. We like that the wheel can telescope as well as tilt, a feature not often found on lower-priced vehicles. Achieving a proper driving position is important on the race track or autocross circuit.
Fit and finish are admirable for price, with soft-touch dash materials, good fit and finish, and thoughtful touches such as aluminum pedals and the sporty mesh pattern behind instrument cluster that mirrors the front grille mesh. Some elements look cheap and plastic-y, though, like the removable cupholder unit in the center console and the fake carbon-fiber-print trim in front of the front passenger. All in all, though, the interior on the FR-S is well executed, and we think perhaps even better than the pre-production Hyundai Genesis Coupe we drove earlier this year.
The driver and passengers sit low in the cockpit, which can take a while to get used to, but visibility is still good. The fabric seats are highly bolstered and comfortable, although there is no lumbar support and the range of adjustability isn't as wide as we'd like. The cloth upholstery used on the seats is soft and grippy, almost like the much-pricier Alcantara, although we wonder how durable it will be, especially on the bottom seat cushions.
The rear bucket seats are ridiculously cramped. While there is enough hip and knee room for small adults or young children, the lack of toe room makes it almost impossible to carry people in the backseat. Most likely we'd use the rear seating area for storage, which, when the single-folding seat back is flat, provides open access to the trunk and enough room for four full-sized tires. Glaring omissions on the FR-S was a lack of a roof handle on the passenger side, as well as rear handles/hooks for rear passengers and/or dry cleaning.
Audio controls vary depending on what system you choose. We found the controls on the base stereo to be nonsensical and aggravating; the upgraded system with the touchscreen is much more intuitive and easy to use. Sound quality from the Pioneer audio system is fair, but since Scion customers tend to be big on customization, we expect music aficionados will roll with aftermarket speakers anyway.
The FR-S debuts a new, optional infotainment system called BeSpoke, powered by Pioneer's Zypr technology. While our test cars were not yet equipped with the new system, we were able to see a freestanding display outside of the car. The new system offers drivers connectivity via the usual apps such as Facebook and Twitter, but we were disappointed to learn that BeSpoke is compatible only with Apple's iPhone and iPod, which might not sit too well with a vast number of the younger set opting for Andriod-powered smartphones.
Next: Driving Impressions