Scion's emphasis when they designed the FR-S was affordability and handling performance. The car's rear-wheel drive orientation and compact, lightweight platform make the car very fun to drive, while the engine is torquey yet efficient.
Scion started by building the FR-S as a rear-wheel-drive platform from the ground up. The performance benefits of rear-wheel-drive are numerous but can most easily be summed up by the word "balance." Like many more expensive performance cars, the FR-S' "tossable" nature allows the driver to play with the limits of grip.
Rear-wheel drive on its own though is not enough to create a car with world-class handling. Thankfully the FR-S has the rest of the package as well. Weighing around 2,800 pounds, the car is extremely light. This lightness is aided by 4-wheel independent suspension and 17-inch wheels. In fact, the FR-S has been bestowed a kind of agility that is rare for performance cars costing two to three times as much.
Though there was an obvious bias toward developing handling in the creation of the FR-S, that does not mean it's slow in a straight line. The 2.0L horizontally opposed engine was designed by Subaru, makes 200 horsepower and is capable of revving all the way up to 7,500 RPM. Coupled with the car's light weight and a precise 6-speed manual or automatic with rev-matching and paddle shifters, this engine is enough to give the Scion more than adequate straight-line thrust while still returning a combined 25 mpg when equipped with the manual, and 28 mpg with the automatic.
While the exterior of the FR-S is swoopy, low and evocative of classic sports cars, the interior features four seats. The rear seats can be folded forward to create more trunk room and a fairly usable interior for a car of its size. Though the car may at first seem slightly Spartan, it is not devoid of amenities. An 8-speaker 300-watt sound system with USB input is standard, as is air-conditioning, a 6.1-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, power windows and door locks and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
From a safety standpoint, the FR-S has plenty of electronic assistance. Anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability control are all standard, though traction and stability control can be switched off for serious track work. The FR-S also comes standard with six airbags, including side curtain airbags and dual-stage advanced driver and passenger airbags.