By on July 6, 2012

So often we hear analysts and fans excuse a car’s poor initial sales performance with a phrase like, “But it’s early.” Oddly, the very same phrase is legitimately used when discussing a new car’s surprisingly successful first month. In just its second month on sale, in just its first full month on sale, the Scion FR-S did not sell poorly.

Rarely has a car generated such an avid fan base before any independent testing had been completed. In a market that’s been starved by the disappearance of the Toyota Celica, Acura Integra, Honda Prelude, and Mazda RX-8; insulted by the long hiatus of Ford’s performance-oriented Focus; and offended by the weight gain of Mitsubishi’s Eclipse, a lightweight rear-wheel-drive sports car is a gift at $25,000.

Not that they’re direct rivals, but so-called sports sedans like the Volvo S60, Lexus IS, Acura TSX did not sell as frequently as the Scion last month. Mini’s best-selling variant, the Cooper and Cooper S hardtop, sold 2601 times in June. Volkswagen sold 1508 GTI hatchbacks plus 447 copies of the Golf R. Subaru Impreza WRX sales jumped 72% to 1138. Scion tC sales climbed 4% to 2128. The rear-wheel drive BMW 1-Series found 701 buyers. Sales of the Mazda MX-5 Miata improved 30% to 659. Honda CR-Z sales slid 58% to 409 units. Besides the American muscle car trio, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe (numbers for which are folded into the Genesis’s 3374-unit total), and the curious Hyundai Veloster, 3232 of which were sold in June, the FR-S fared better than other sporting cars.

As the best-selling Scion in June, FR-S sales reached 2684 units. That’s 32% of Scion’s U.S. total. Incidentally, in its first Canadian sales month, the FR-S delivered 51% of Scion’s volume.

Would a potential FR-S buyer consider acquiring a Mustang instead? Regardless, sales of the Ford pony car surged to 10,263 in June. Chevrolet Camaro sales rose to 9123. Dodge sold 4009 Challengers, marking that car’s best ever June.

One car we know to be a direct rival of the FR-S is the virtually identical Subaru BRZ. 271 BRZs left dealers in May, another 818 in June. Subaru never intended the BRZ to be the comparatively high-volume car that Scion’s FR-S now clearly is.

But it’s early. And to quote another painful analyst phrase, “Only time will tell.”

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74 Comments on “Scion FR-S Sells Well, But It’s Early...”


  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Tons of hype that went around this car for years. As time went by the feature set and price points shifted (less features, less power, higher price) but a nice package delivered.

    Clearly, even the most ardent fan has to admit there is significant built up demand from those in line to buy. The real question for the FR-S will come in 12 months as that early appetite is fed.

    Will people still be lining up to plunk their money down, or will the volume tail off as the those waiting, literally in some cases for years to get their fix buy their dream, and the market shrinks.

    With the exception of Mini and the Miata/MX-5 – small sports/sporty cars have not sold well in the states. As most know and will hang their head and admit, what sells to Americans is boring vanilla washing machine grade sedans, and near equally boring CUV cross overs and fullsize pickup trucks.

    Long term, the FR-S has a tough hill to climb – but I’m cheering for success. Hopefully it forces others (Honda, I’m looking right at you) to do the obvious, like slap the Si engine in the CR-Z instead of insisting to sell a package no one wants. Good Lord Honda, the parts are in the bin and you have the platform!

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      around here, there just aren’t any to be found, all the dealer’s websites show 2 or 3 coming in the next couple of weeks, nothing in stock.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-X

      I saw one of these going down the street the other day. It’s not ‘a looker’ by any means, and a 2009 Cobalt SS would easily take it on the street and racetrack. My guess is the “story” that generates this media attention is the curiosity of what kind of baby Mr. Toyota and Ms. Subaru would have. Calm, steady, Mr. Toyota, and that loose cannon Ms. Subaru, birther of many homely, unwanted babies. Why Toyota feels the need to mix bodily fluids with a C-level player like Subaru is anybody’s guess. Sure, they’ll “sell out” the first year since it’s only a few thousand units, just like the Subaru SVX.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        I can’t see a Cobalt out-handling an FRS, but in the straights the Cobalt would have an advantage.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        LOL that is funny! Ludicrous but funny!

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Ryoku75, the did specify the ’09 Cobalt SS. That car was a beast, and not just “good for a Cobalt,” it was good. It did the Kessel run in five parsecs and got the Blues Brothers to Chicago to pay for the orphan’s taxes.

        Flippant comment aside – it was a damn good handling car (do some research) and it was blistering fast (faster than the FR-S 0-60 and in the quarter). With GMPP Stage I you could have 300 HP under your left foot. The best part of the 2009 was they made a sedan version of the SS, without all the boy racer treatment the coupe got. Total sleeper. The only give away was the dual exhaust and 18″ rims.

        Would it outrun an FR-S on a track? I think the FR-S will hold up better – self-destructing crank shafts not included.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        At APa: It may handle alright, but it’d understeer quite a bit compared to the FRS, plus it’d break after just a few laps.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-X

        At 8:22.85 minutes per lap on the Nürburgring racing circuit, the Cobalt SS (2008-2009) surprises; the Cobalt is:
        2.85s slower than the 2010 Camaro SS
        0.85s slower than 2001 BMW M3
        8.0s faster than the 1998 Corvette C5
        (From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_N%C3%BCrburgring_Nordschleife_lap_times#Timing_by_manufacturers )

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Nurg times don’t concern me, I don’t live in Europe.

      • 0 avatar
        Redshift

        Ryoku: Why are you so convinced that a car that has proven to be etremely quick on the street/time trials etc and fairly durable will lose to a new vehicle with no history of either yet? Is it just because of the respective badges on the hood?

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Somewhere under 9 minutes for the twins. Or about half second off the pace of the half decade old turbo, old trailing arm Cobalt.

        Wonder why there is no production car times?

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        At Redshift: It isn’t the badges, its the fact that the Cobalt SS is just a Cobalt with a supercharger stuck on it.

        I can easily see the SS beating the FR-S in straights thanks to its power, but in the corners… well I know a few people who’ve ended up driving their Cobalts into the ditch.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-X

        Ryoku75: The 2008+ models had turbos, and were much better than the supercharged version. Also, they had plenty of suspension work too.

  • avatar
    HiFlite999

    With reports of engine problems accumulating as fast as sales figures. Examples abound. One here: http://downrightfrs.blogspot.com/2012/06/check-engine-light.html

    • 0 avatar
      stryker1

      Wow, that’s pretty bad.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Agreed. Early adopters are going to complain the loudest and the first – so the real question is HOW widespread is it. Given that there are less than 4,000 examples (give or take on the road) and there are this many reports of catastrophic engine failures – it isn’t a good start to things.

        Given the xB and xD are dead, the iQ has been panned by the critics and not exactly igniting the sales chart, and you have the tC and FR-S – if the FR-S launch is bungled bad, Scion really is a dead brand walking.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-X

        That’s what people get when they buy a Subaru, which has more hype than steady reliability. This reminds me of my first day with my 1981 GL Wagon.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Kiichiro Toyoda is turning in his grave.

        I’m not kidding.

        That would have been cause for him to commit seppuku 切腹.

        If they don’t nip this in the bud, and it doesn’t look like they will, it spells disaster, both in terms of whatever value modern day Japanese place on “saving face” and in terms of Toyota having to do major warranty reparations and dealing with a severely branded model.

        How could this have happened? How could Toyota have so tinkered with what was a reliable core Subaru motor as to FUBAR it, if that’s what turns out to be the case?

        Hyundai must be having some serious Schadenfreude.

      • 0 avatar
        Synchromesh

        Detroit-X: you might consider changing your nick a bit because everything you say about Japanese cars looks like regular bs with that name.

        As for Subaru, I know plenty of people with WRXs and other models that could handle over 200K miles without major issues when maintained properly. That is much more than I can say for many American car owners I know.

      • 0 avatar
        Redshift

        Detroit-x: The ownership experieance of a 1981 GL wagon has about as much relevance to the 2012 FRS/BRZ as that of my parents 1981 Ford Granada does with a 2012 Mustang.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-X

        Well first, Detroit-X refers to my location, not my sole automotive choice. I only give opinions of the brands I’m familiar with. A quick count of brands I’ve owned, or had direct responsibility to keep alive, is: 2 Ford, 5 GM, 4 VW, 5 Subaru, 2 Honda, 2 Toyota, 1 Isuzu.

        The reference to my ’81 GL Wagon I included for two reasons: #1: Because apparently nothing has changed; Subaru still has spotty reliability/durability/quality, as my ’99 Outcash painfully showed me. Even Murilee Martin has said he’s not convinced of their reputation for quality. (Thanks Murilee, for being honest.) Check out: Car and Driver, Long Term Test, 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. And #2: Revenge via the truth (about cars), for Subaru burning me too many times.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Oh man that doesn’t look good. They need to take a play from Honda’s book. Theyve got 25 year old VTEC lumps still zinging to 8.5K on all original engine internals.

    • 0 avatar
      sastexan

      There are very few documented real problems – mostly a bunch of whiners of people who don’t understand how an idle air control valve works.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      It looks to me like they did a pretty good job of making that right. They also sent engineers to check out the parts and find out the cause of the problem. It is a drag for this one person, but if they handle issues in this manner, and the problem does not include a significant percentage of vehicles, I don’t see a big black eye.

      • 0 avatar
        BrianL

        They guy got to drive it for 3 hours the first MONTH that he owned it. Had this been a Detroit vehicle, people would have been all over this and calling it a lemon.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    I’ve been hipstering this car for a while, but I’ll admit I hope it sells like friggin crazy so I can get a deal on a used one is 4 years.

    • 0 avatar
      Sammy B

      Agree – we all need this to sell well. Used examples being a big reason. Also to prove that this market still exists – see if we can get others in the game [looking at you, Nissan!]

      And as pure fantasy, if it sells well enough to justify variants, I’d love for them to make a clownshoe M coupe knockoff!

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Yes, because if there are cars that depreciate a lot, offering good deals on used cars, they are Toyota and Subaru sports cars.

      /sarcasm

      You will never get a good used deal on this car. This is the kind of car that you buy and keep forever, once the first one or two years’ glitches are resolved hook up Toyota or Subaru and buy a new one.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    After 6 weeks, no engine issues at all, only problems are a rattling right door speaker which has forced me to turn bass down and condensation inside the tail light assembly. I will take it to dealer when I go for the first oil change and mention it to them.

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    Just got to have a long look and sit in at the dealer today while there for an alignment on the family car.

    The car seat for my daughter will fit. I don’t need anything more than the base model.

    They won’t take my wife as trade-in, so it looks like it’ll have to wait for a promotion + 2 years, but goddammit, I will have this car!

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I guess wives just aren’t worth what they used to be… :)

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Were you looking at an FR-S or a BRZ? I know that Subaru dealers will pay top dollar for a used wife. They are very popular with the lesbians. Used wifes are the number two upsell on a Forester after a bike rack.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        +1

        Subaru dealers pay at least 2x as much for trade-in used wives (ones with short hair, attenuated musculature and a masculine pheromone off-gassing can fetch even more) than competitor dealers.

        Yes, the BRZ costs a tad more than the FT86, but if you are trading in your wife, you’ll still come out a head if you go the BRZ route.

    • 0 avatar
      sastexan

      I fit our “big” carseat – the Britax Boulevard – both forward facing (for my 4 year old) and rear facing (for my 21 month old) in my FR-S without an issue, although if I had a front passenger, that person would have been a little tight with the rear facing seat.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      I’m wondering youall moderators ban people for expressing valuable sentiments– for asking pointed questions about your alliances and intentions– and for engaging in back-and-forth with the commentariat around here whileever people like JuicySushi are allowed to curse a God without question.

      This is not the first instance since Mr. Panther’s addressment of the nefarious Christian tie-down seller– and it needs to stop.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        I had to read @JuicySushi’s comment 3 times before I even figured out what you were talking about. My advice: If that word offended you, then you really should just get off the internet now. It gets MUCH worse out there.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    An FR-S article with only 12 comments?
    Did the rapture happen?

  • avatar
    raph

    Meh… needs another 100-150 more horsepower.

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      What for? more speeding tickets?

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      So you can brake for the next corner 300 feet earlier? 200 horsepower is more than adequate for a car this size, unless you have an abiding fear of the rev limiter.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        I agree that this car needs more power. It would be appriciated at high altitudes. If there is no room under the hood for a turbocharger, cut a hole in the hood and put in a supercharger like on the Dodge Charger in The Fast and the Furious.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Okay, I’ll allow an exception for elevation. A 1200AX twin screw bolted onto a new intake manifold would get the job done quite nicely. Might fix the torque pit, too.

  • avatar

    I reviewed the Scion FRS and Subaru BRZ the moment they hit my showroom. I personally liked the BRZ more because it came with more equipment. They really need to put out an STI model, but, I see them having no problems selling these cars. These cars are basically presold because of the hype. Second I heard about the cars I got excited and I never gave a single damn about a small car in my life.

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    I hope it fails miserably, while Subaru sees huge success with the BRZ, just so Toyota learns a valuable lesson that Scion is a failure and that this car should’ve been the new Celica.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      If it fails, it would likely spell the end of custom RWD sports car platforms at reasonable prices. You would wish that to satisfy a petty branding grudge? I don’t understand.

      Why would a car lover love a badge more than a car?

      • 0 avatar
        84Cressida

        Subaru being successful would show them there is a market, just not for half-assed, crappy Scions.

        And BRANDING MATTERS. Why do people simply shrug this off? If you don’t care, great, you’ll have no problem driving this as a Celica. Nobody has said “I don’t want this to be a Toyota”, there are plenty who are buying the Subaru just to spite Toyota for their stupid Scion mistake.

    • 0 avatar

      Oh, okay, they should have built something FWD.

      I can hear the CR-Zs calling to you from the dealer lots.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      Except Scion isn’t a failure and for all intents and purposes they’re just Toyotas…sold at Toyota dealerships. For this particular car I actually think it was a good thing that it got the Scion brand since most dealers are actually not price gouging unlike the Subaru dealerships, and for that matter you even can qualify for a recent graduate rebate at Scion on this car ($1000) which is pretty unheard of for such a hot selling model. It’s not that hard to swap the emblems if you’re really gonna be that anal about it.

      If you’re sad about the de-contenting versus the JDM or Euro spec 86′s then you should just go buy a BRZ. It’s not like they’ve totally denied you anything really.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    Scion website touts the car’s heritage and showspics of the old Toyota sporty offerings.

    http://Www.scion.com/frsheritage/

    Pretty funny. Should have been a TOYOTA!

    • 0 avatar
      84Cressida

      As a loyal Toyota fan, I’m downright sick of the attention the AE86 gets. It was never popular or revered as a car until well after it was out of production, and it doesn’t deserve near the amount of attention it gets. I’m pretty sick of seeing riced out AE86s and Toyota touting that as “heritage” while completely ignoring their TRUE sports car like the Celica, MR2, and Supra. Nobody gives a rats ass about 25 year old Corollas except ricers, while Celicas, MR2s and Supras are actually known by average joes and are respected enough to fetch serious coin in original condition.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Personally I wouldn’t mind a stock AE86, just a fun but economical city car. I don’t like seeing any of those old Yoyos riced out.

        The AE86 got its attenion simply because it was used in drift events and Initial D, sorta like how the hyped Camaro became known due to a certain badly written blockbuster flic.

        For me, Toyotas heritage is more so “We’re going to copy everyone but make our stuff better”, not “We’re going to skid around in parking lots all day”.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      JDM badges from eBay will correct that easily enough.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I’ll wait for the inevitable Legacy-engined turbo-charged model, or the WRX that’ll mostly likely use this cars platform as a base.

    The fact that this cars doing well at launch dosen’t shock me, its being sold the same way that video games tend to be (and to the same, easily excitiable types), hype it up and tease about it for 5 years or so and end up releasing a moderate product that people will be hated for if they just see it as “okay”.

    Personally, I’m not that interested unless if I can get a stripped down model with just AC and a turbo-four from a Legacy, that way I can have a modern GTO.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    I am tempted to pick up a base BRZ in a few years, but two things hold me back. I don’t like the shape of the torque curve on paper, but I can understand the philosophy behind it and it might work out in the real world. Bigger thing is I don’t know that I want to spend new-car money on something I’d only drive a few times a month.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      If you fit in an NC Miata then it is a better car, and can be had for ~$10,000. If you do not fit in an NC Miata then you might as well buy this new. Toyotas and Subarus do not depreciate. Why would you only drive this a few times a month? This is easily a daily driver.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Because the Prius C gets almost twice the mpg.

        I *almost* fit in the NC, but the under-dash vent hits me directly in the soft spot below my right kneecap. Plus, I’ve already done the convertible thing and I’d rather have the roof and a back seat even for a weekend warrior.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      If you want a base BRZ you should go get the FR-S and save a few dollars.

  • avatar
    RGS920

    I first heard about the FT-86 on TTAC a couple years ago and followed its development. Obviously, I was disappointed when I heard it was going to be sold as a Scion but I was sold on the engineering and development goals of the car. So back in March I got my name on the wait list at my local Subaru (second on their wait list) and Toyota dealerships (first on their wait list). The FR-S arrived first. I ordered a galaxy blue MT FR-S and have had it for exactly 1 month. I ended up trading in my 2006 Corolla XRS.

    I have driven front wheel drive cars for all my life so I wanted a car that would teach me the basics of rear wheel drive. 200 HP with a 2750Lb curb weight is more than enough to teach me the basics. I guess if I wanted a convertible I would have considered the MX5. As for the V6 pony cars, I would have considered them if I thought I was ready for a 300+ HP car or could realistically use all that power without putting my license at risk.

    No issues so far. I have been checking for condensation in the rear lights but looks like my car dodged that problem. The one thing I was not ready for all the attention this car gets. People are constantly coming up and asking about the car. Lots of positive attention. I guess that’s the perk of being an early adopter. Hopefully, the car stays reliable and its successful enough to convince other car companies to develop similar cars.

  • avatar
    alluster

    Wait for sales to fall off a cliff once the novelty wears off. With toyota losing money on every sale due to the killer yen, I fail to see a future for this car. It made sense when a dollar bought 120 yen or more. The tons of money spent developing, designing and hyping the car is wasted on what is a money losing venture for Toyota. Buick sells twice as many veranos, at the same price, for what is just a glorified cruze. Buy a 04 RX8 for 7 grand, set aside $5000 for the inevitable engine rebuild and save the rest. The RX8 is just as fun, handles the same and is 100 times the man car a scion will ever be. There is nothing like the sound of a rotary screaming at 8K RPM.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    So how long will it be before this is turned into a crossover SUV?

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    On a serious note, assuming there aren’t any serious FUBAR issues manifesting themselves in the motor or bones of this car, it’s my very humble, non-trolling opinion that patience is warranted in putting off a purchase of the normally aspirated version of either twin since a factory warranted, factory built FI motor that’s probably good for 40 to 50 more horsepower is coming down the pike.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Yup, Deadweight, I agree…

      As I had said before for this car, “Close but no cigar”. The car is good, no doubt, and has an obvious home in the market place, filling a large void. But it’s not great. No doubt a midcourse correction will be needed to:
      1) Get off that 53/47 (F/R) weight distribution (perhaps put battery and/or transmission in the back);
      2) Get horsepower up to 230-240 (which would not even require a turbo);
      3) Flatten the torque curve and get a lower plateau onset.

      Nevertheless, it is interesting to watch Mazda MX-5 Miata come out with one “update” after another to try to stem the tide of this new Toyobaru offering! (^_^)…

      —————

      • 0 avatar
        daiheadjai

        Apparently the 53/47 split was intentional.
        Seems the chassis engineers found the car behaved better with slight front-bias.

        Either that’s marketing fluff, or perhaps the idolized 50/50 split actually isn’t perfect in every application except on paper.

        I would love to see them let Yamaha do something to this engine like add Lift a la the outgoing Celica GT-S, though that might just make it more “peaky”

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    First-year buyers are guinea pigs. Even knowing this, they buy the cars anyway, then act surprised when shit goes wrong. It’s a vicious never ending cycle.

  • avatar
    Synchromesh

    This is rather interesting info on sales numbers as I all I’ve seen so far was BRZ! Not a single FRS! I’ve even driven a BRZ at the Subaru dealer.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    This car is really a Subaru with a Toyota-engineered fuel delivery system put in there, even the Scion has Subaru printed on the inside of the fenders, in case there is any doubt, plus it’s built at a Subaru plant.

  • avatar
    Darth Lefty

    As someone who bought a WRX last year, I can tell you the year-on-year increase is due to the supply pinch caused by the tsunami, and not anything to do with its popularity in the market.


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