$12,179 - $12,696

2013 Scion FR-S Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Scion FR-S was new.


Performance: 8.9

Reviewers say the 2013 Scion FR-S proves you don’t need luxury sports car money to buy engaging performance. Those who’ve had some seat time in the FR-S appreciate its boxer engine and smooth-shifting transmissions, as well as its balanced handling, quick steering and strong brakes.

  • "Furious track activity is clearly what the FR-S is for, as evidenced by a series of hot laps … a dramatic display of this car's potential." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "The handling is well sorted, the engine has usable power and you can even turn off the nannies to have some real fun. This might have been worth waiting for after all." -- Edmunds 
  • "Having the fastest, most enjoyable car doesn't mean having the most powerful or the priciest. The FR-S is what budget-themed performance is all about." -- Motor Trend 
  • "Being perfectly candid, we didn't yearn for more horsepower or more torque. Thanks to a very low curb weight (estimated at about 2,700 pounds), a well-balanced chassis (53/47 percent front/rear) and a low center of gravity (besting the Porsche Cayman), the Scion was as obedient as a well-trained Border Collie." -- Autoblog 

Acceleration and Power

Only one engine is available in the 2013 Scion FR-S: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 200 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 151 pound-feet of torque at 6,600 rpm. That’s significantly less power than rivals like the base Ford Mustang and Nissan 370Z have, but reviewers don’t seem to mind. The EPA reports that the 2013 Scion FR-S gets up to 25/34 mpg city/highway, which is better than the fuel economy of many affordable sports cars.

The rear-wheel drive FR-S is available with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, which both get high marks. Reviewers generally like the manual’s smooth, connected feel, but also comment that the automatic fires off rapid shifts, especially in Sport mode. Still, one critic notes that the six-speed manual felt a bit notchy between second and third gear shifts.

  • Although there is a manual shift gate for the automatic, plus shift paddles, we found it worked best on the track when it's simply left in drive; try to use the paddles and you'll likely have downshifts denied even when there seems to be plenty of space left on the tach. That complaint aside, this appears to be a very nice automatic, but why would you want one in this pure sports car?" -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "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. We're guessing at a 0-to-60 time just a shade over six seconds." -- Car and Driver 
  • "The 2013 Scion FR-S is no stoplight hero. It's not slow either, though, so ripping through the precise six-speed gearbox feels satisfying." -- Edmunds 
  • "The smooth six-speed manual transmission's weighty feel invites accurate rev-matched shifts. The paddle-actuated automatic gearbox does it all for you with impressive hastiness, particularly in Sport mode (engineers wouldn't divulge actual shift times), and should easily appease the growing number of driving enthusiasts who toil through gridlock on a daily basis." -- Motor Trend 
  • Tracking through the corner, the FR-S feels adequately powerful as it builds forward momentum. The short-throw gearbox is precise, though a bit notchy between 2nd and 3rd gear." -- Road and Track
  • "We blipped the throttle and the engine response was instantaneous. Running through the gears, the manual transmission had a mechanical throw making it feel very connected to the gearbox." -- Autoblog 

Handling and Braking

The automotive press agrees that like the Mazda Miata, the Scion FR-S’ light weight and nimble handling make it a thrill to drive. Reviewers rave about the FR-S’ agility, precise steering and strong brakes, often drawing comparisons to luxury sports cars like the Porsche Cayman.

  • "Oh, wow, does this car turn in. The steering is super precise, and you have a good sense of the front of the car, even if there's not the sort of steering feel you get in a Lotus Elise or Porsche Cayman. The FR-S feels flat, balanced, neutral, natural." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "Scion has certainly succeeded in making the FR-S agile. From the quick steering to the alert chassis, the FR-S responds to driver input in a way that reminds us of the Honda S2000." -- Car and Driver 
  • "Turn-in is extraordinarily precise, which, along with superb forward visibility, allows me to execute my every entry and exit strategy corner after corner with pinpoint accuracy." -- Motor Trend 
  • "The steering feels solid, with good sensitivity at turn-in." -- Road and Track 
  • "We drifted left to position ourselves for entry, and then applied the brakes firmly. The pads bit hard and speed bled off effortlessly (the brakes were so good that we eventually questioned whether or not the calipers were loaded with street compound pads)." -- Autoblog

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