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Review: Scion FR-S – Does the Automatic Transmission Deliver?

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Price: $25,300

Engine: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder Boxer engine

Transmission: 6-Speed Sequential w/ Paddle Shifters

Power: 200hp, 151 lb-ft of torque

The Scion FR-S is an automotive tribute to enthusiasts everywhere. While it may not be the fastest sports car out there, it most certainly is one of the most enjoyable cars to drive. When this car was created, they didn’t worry about the raw power that the engine produced, instead, they were more focused on putting a grin on the drivers face. While the manual version of this car is widely publicized as the best driver’s car to be produced lately, the automatic version is left alone in the dark. So, does the automatic Scion FR-S have the ability to stand toe-to-toe with its manual counterpart?

The automatic and manual versions of the Scion FR-S are visually identical. The exterior is sleek and incredibly sporty. If you are familiar with the Toyota Gt-86 or the Subaru BRZ, you will notice minor differences in the front end of the FR-S when compared between each other. Inside the FR-S is an incredibly sporty interior; it’s simple, functional and sporty. Even though plastic is used liberally throughout the interior, a pet peeve of mine, I didn’t waste any time on it, because I knew the treat was soon to come in the drive.

Once you sit down in the FR-S, seats with incredibly large bolsters greet your body. While these bolsters are a necessity if you plan on doing some serious driving, they may be a bit much for those who are of a larger size. In front the driver is a simple gauge cluster, so the driver can focus on the road and not a flashy cluster. In our FR-S, the stock Pioneer radio was included, which was also incredibly simple.

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Instead of a shifter, the automatic version is equipped with a gear selector that does its best manual shifter impression. While you can select gears from the shifter, the fun comes from the paddle shifters that are mounted to the steering wheel.

So how do the automatic transmission and paddle shifters compare to the manual transmission? Unsurprisingly, the automatic FR-S is incredibly fun to drive, even if the gears are selected via paddle shifters. While the automatic transmission may not be as quick as the manual transmission, it still allows the driver to have a blast behind the wheel. The gear changes are quick and smooth, and the computer perfectly hits the throttle when downshifting to make sure you are constantly in the powerband.

As far as handling goes, no matter what transmission you get, you still get an incredibly tight and exciting driving experience. The automatic FR-S we tested hugged every corner and was incredibly sticky. One test-driver told us he felt like he was driving a go-kart after he had his turn. When accelerating out of turns, it was if the car was begging to get sideways.

Both transmissions get the same 16-valve boxer engine, so they each get an efficient engine that is placed for perfect weight distribution. Combined with the automatic transmission, this engine will get you an incredibly impressive 28 mpg, something that is definitely worth mentioning.

At the end of the day, we had an absolute blast with the Scion FR-S, even if it was an automatic. Nothing will change the fact that they have created one of the best driver’s cars ever. Purists will certainly opt for the manual transmission, but those who want a driver’s car without the third pedal, you cannot go wrong with the Scion FR-S.

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