Scion makes it a point to brag about the FR-S’s low center of gravity, and a lot of the car’s liveliness is indeed likely due to the location of much of its mass. The flat-four sits low in the engine compartment, and even though Subaru stresses how far back the engine is compared with those in other Subies, it’s still surprisingly far forward. The transmission, a six-speed automatic or a six-speed manual, is right behind the engine, preventing it from being mounted farther back. A transaxle would allow for the engine to be placed more to the rear and would better balance weight distribution, but transaxles cost a lot of money, especially ones made specifically for one car. The transmissions in the FR-S are Aisin gearboxes that are similar to the six-speed units found in the Lexus IS. The manual shifts with a solid, no-nonsense feel. Although the manual suits the character of the FR-S better, the optional automatic with paddle shifters is a responsive and quick-shifting ally.
Subaru’s flat-four engine still gives off a bit of the characteristic boxer thrum at lower rpm. Above 6000 rpm and to the 7400-rpm redline, though, the four begins its chain-saw impersonation. It’s a bit uncouth, but it feels and sounds like a machine with purpose. On paper, and in the face of the ever-escalating pony-car horsepower war, the FR-S’s 200 hp might seem inadequate. It’s not. With a 0-60 time of just a tick over 6 seconds, it is more than quick enough to put a huge smile on your face. It is worth noting however, that this test unit was a prototype, no. 7 to be exact, and therefore some of the fit and finish, as well as driving dynamics might not be totally accurate.
The brakes on the FR-S provided amazing feedback, and after several hard stops, no fade was noticed. Shifting was smooth, and once you get the clutch figured out on this vehicle, it really is a blast to drive. In a way to describe this car, if this reviewer had a choice between driving either the Audi S4, or the FR-S, that would be the hardest choice to make, but the FR-S just might win out over the German stud. One downside to be noted is that the seats are certainly made for smaller folk, however if you are of a larger size like I am, they will still be comfortable, you will just have to get used to the sides of the seat digging into your kidneys. The seats do certainly hold you in place however, when you decide to spice things up a bit.
Overall, Toyota/Subaru made one heck of an effort, and produced on heck of a car. If you are looking for a car that combines style, power, and raw emotion, than this certainly should be on your shopping list. I would even hazard to say that if you are looking at buying a Ford Mustang, or Chevrolet Camaro, or any other small, sporty car under $25k, than this is more than worth a look, and certainly worth a test drive. Will it be a good family car considering the small size of the back seat, no, but then again you don't really ever buy a coupe to be a family hauler. If this reviewer had a Best Driver's car like Motor Trend does, this car would without a question in my mind, be on that list. Stop in to your local Scion dealer to take a look at this amazing car.