According to a recent USA Today article, entitled “Scion hits sales high with FR-S sports car halo,” the launch of the Toyota and Subaru co-developed Scion FR-S has been a great success, at least initially.
As car transporters deliver these admittedly attractive cars to dealerships nationwide, people are flocking to Scion’s showrooms to check them out. As a result, June sales numbers for all Scion models were at their highest since 2008. Reviews of the vehicle have also been positive, which has created a buzz in the racing community.
With all of the accolades surrounding the FR-S and its debut, it’s easy to overlook the drawbacks of the car and its questionable future potential. For instance, many sports car fans consider the vehicle to be a bit underpowered. In today’s high-powered sports car market, is 200 horsepower really enough?
Clearly, Toyota has designed the car to be ideal for racing on tracks with hairpin turns and any roadways where drifting might be required, but neglected to include enough horsepower to compete with favorites like the Nissan 370Z, with additional $7,000 price tag. Due to Subaru’s involvement, many race enthusiasts speculated that the car would be available in a turbo-charged version, but evidence of any such model has yet to be seen. Even if the FR-S was given 250 horsepower or more, it could very well impact sales of the the Lexus IS 250, though that luxury car targets a somewhat different demographic.
Intruding upon sales of the flailing Scion tC, which, up to this point, was the brand’s sportiest vehicle, is yet another potential marketing problem. Last year’s sales of the Scion tC were well below expectations. According to some estimates, it has seen a decrease in sales of more than 300% since the peak sales year of 2006. With the release of the Scion FR-S, who will want to buy the tC? Even if Toyota discontinues the tC, they will lose customers in their youth-oriented demographic, who can’t quite afford the more expensive FR-S, starting at nearly $25,000.
Still, Toyota and Subaru might just be onto something. It’s hard to believe anyone is complaining about a return to the pure sports car feel, with rear wheel drive and a light curb weight at under 2,800 pounds in the manual configuration. It also seems to have a bit more masculinity and cool factor than Mazda’s often maligned, though critically hailed, MX-5 Miata.
Finally, a respectable 30 highway mpg (34 in the automatic version) is sure to please the environmentally conscious racer (if they exist) and those planning to use the car as a daily driver.
Overall, it appears the Scion FR-S will be quite successful, it just happens to be a bit underwhelming.