Toyota brings the hottest car to come in the history of its youth-focused Scion brand in the form of the new 2013 Scion FR-S, a light-on-its-feet and tossable new sport coupe already touted as the enthusiast’s dream car. The FR-S comes to a segment with relatively few competitors, chief of which is the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, which receives more power and other upgrades for 2013. Which car is the best performance bang for your buck? Let’s take a look.
Engines and Transmissions
The Hyundai is the clear winner when it comes to outright power. The buyer has the choice of a 2.0-liter turbo engine, which receives new twin-scroll turbocharging technology for 2013 to bump power to 274 horses, or the upscale 3.8-liter V6 now making 348 horses thanks to direct-injection technology. Both engines are responsive and well-suited for a car of this character though the 2.0 has been a favorite with buyers due to its lower cost of entry and potential for easy aftermarket tuning.
The FR-S is not long on power in the sports car world, its Subaru-sourced naturally aspirated 2.0-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine making an even 200 horsepower. This may not seem like much but the car’s extremely light weight must be taken into consideration. The FR-S weighs right around 2,750 lbs. while the Genesis Coupe’s engines have 3,400 to 3,550 lbs. or so of mass to push around. Simple physics shows the two cars are not that different in weight-to-horsepower ratio, the key metric dictating straight-line performance. Upgrade the Genesis Coupe to the V6 and this all goes out the window with few cars able to match its blend of power and knife-edge handling.
Both cars come standard with a six-speed manual transmission with an automatic as an option, the latter featuring six cogs in the FR-S and eight in the Genesis Coupe. The extra gears in the Genesis help with fuel efficiency, but the FR-S actually wins out here. EPA-estimated efficiency measures up to 25 city/34 highway mpg for the Scion and 20 city/31 highway mpg for the Hyundai. Thank those 650 fewer pounds to lug around for the efficiency boost.
Handling and Performance
While the Genesis Coupe dignifies itself as an agile and thrilling performer–much more fun to take through some twisty mountain roads than a Ford Mustang–driving the FR-S is a sublime experience unmatched by any car south of a Porsche Cayman. The Scion’s advanced suspension geometry shares some components with the Subaru WRX STI, and its engine’s flat-four configuration allows it to be mounted extremely low in the chassis for a lower center of gravity than the Hyundai.
Either car is sure to bring smiles to the driver’s face. While the Genesis Coupe has true sports car handling in an inexpensive package, the FR-S puts most sports cars costing three times as much to shame when pushed on the track. With a little tuning, drivers can bump horsepower up to much higher levels to tackle those straightaways just as fast as the curves. A turbocharged FR-S model is in the cards and should follow the initial run of cars to market by a year or two.
Base pricing is nearly identical for both cars: $24,200 for the FR-S and $24,250 for the Genesis Coupe. For the V6 Genesis pricing starts at $28,750. While the horsepower advantage to the V6 may be enticing, the 2.0T can easily be tuned to the same power output and is also lighter and cheaper.
Though its lack of heavy-hitting horsepower is a big hurdle to overcome, the 2013 Scion FR-S is the better of these two cars. Take a hot lap around the track in each and you’re sure to agree.