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Scion's sporty FR-S attractive, nimble

| Saturday, March 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The sportiest car in Toyota's Scion family, the 2014 FR-S, is a fun-to-drive, four-cylinder, rear-wheel drive coupe that looks more expensive than its $25,455 starting price tag.

Even better, the 2014 FR-S earned five out of five stars in overall federal government crash tests.

Still, few people will want to even attempt to sit in the minimal and carved-out back seats in the FR-S.

And big cargo won't fit in the shallow FR-S trunk.

In addition, Consumer Reports rates the reliability of the FR-S as below average.

Some people think the FR-S resembles Honda's S2000 sports car on the outside, while others liken it to earlier Porsches. Both comments are high praise for Scion, which is Toyota's brand for young, budget-conscious buyers.

Enthusiasts of any age, however, will enjoy this car's combination of balance and agility.

The test car stuck like glue to the pavement, though it was not shod with grippy, fat performance tires.

The electric power steering was quickly responsive in a natural way and never felt artificial the way some electric systems do.

The car's light weight — the FR-S weighs just 2,758 pounds with manual transmission — accounted for a satisfying “scoot” feeling, even though torque from the 2-liter, double overhead cam four cylinder peaks at 151 foot-pounds starting at 6,400 rpm.

There is considerable road and engine noise, however, and the ride can feel rough on broken pavement.

Everyone rides low to the ground in the FR-S and gets good looks at the tailpipes of big pickups.

The FR-S roofline is low on this 4.2-foot-tall vehicle. So, getting in and out requires dexterity and care so heads don't bump at the low door opening.

Even the side windows seem a bit constricted, height-wise, and views out the side rear are blocked by thick rear window pillars.

Intriguingly, though it was driven in spirited fashion, the test FR-S averaged 26.2 miles per gallon in combined city/highway travel. This was a bit better than the federal government's 25 mpg estimate for city/highway travel for a manual transmission FR-S.

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