Scion FRS put sizzle into my life

Krystyna Lagowski Toyota Scion FRSIt’s been a nightmare of a winter, and many of my friends have fled south to get away. I can’t wait for spring either. But instead of going south, I went east – to Toyota Canada in Scarborough, where I picked up a rambunctious little 2014 Scion FRS.

If anything could put some sizzle in my life, this would be it.

The Scion FRS is the lovechild of Toyota and Subaru – Toyota owns 17% of Fuji Industries, which owns Subaru. Some wags have dubbed this the Toyobaru, since Subaru produced an almost identical sibling, the BRZ. (Would carmakers stop it already with the letters?)  The Subaru is available with more options like heated leather seats and push button ignition, and also costs a touch more. I could spend all day going on about the differences – and some people have – but it’s essentially the same car. My basic FRS was just under $30,000.00, all in, which is reasonable for a small sportscar with 200 hp, rear wheel drive, and killer good looks.

Just to see that low-slung rascal with a snub nose, flared fenders and curvaceous butt made me smile. Inside, I was startled to see three pedals against the firewall, and a leather pouch around the shifter. I’d been told I was getting an automatic. But wait – the third pedal was a cleverly disguised footrest, and the shifter only moved vertically. Oh, well. Thoughtfully, someone had applied bright red stitching and trim that matched my hair perfectly.Scion FRS gearshift

I stepped in, and tucked myself into a driver’s seat that seemed like it was made for me. Under the sunny blue sky, I turned the key and pulled away, with a luscious snarl from the exhaust. It was the warmest day of the year, and I lowered the windows, letting the air whisper sweet nothings in my ear. So the calendar didn’t say spring. In the cockpit of the FRS, it sure felt like spring. And that’s how I drove. We wove neatly around corners, flew up and down ramps, and snaked through side streets. Scarborough could be this much fun? Who knew?

That was Tuesday. Then, there was Wednesday. Although the weather reports were ominous, I wouldn’t let it snow on my parade. I had a lunch date with my cousin that both of us had been looking forward to.  As I swung onto the street, my ride reminded me that it was, in fact, a rear wheel drive sportscar with summer tires and a twitchy back end. Fishtailing down the street, I spotted a “snow” setting below the gearshift. I took a deep breath, pressed the button, and finally got my butt under control.

Thick white flakes were coming down fast, and the wipers were busy. Keeping to main streets and avoiding hills, I finally rolled into my cousin’s driveway. We shared a cup of tea while I bragged about my prowess in the snow. “I’ve driven in stupider weather,” I crowed to her.

Outside, the white stuff had nearly covered the Scion, and I whipped out my snow brush. “See, it’s a small car, so it doesn’t take long to clean,” I said, dusting off the snow. My cousin patiently swept off the windows on her side, and we swung into the car. She noted the family Benz often got stuck in the snow, but I assured her we would not get stuck. I showed her the “snow” button, and she was suitably impressed. I’m sure the family Benz doesn’t have one. Steering along the unplowed road, slowly but surely, we inched our way to Bathurst, where I came to a stop. And tried to move forward. But couldn’t.

I backed up a few inches, went straight, and felt the car surfing along the snow. Was it the three inches of ground clearance that did it? I could move sideways, but not front ways. In fact, I seemed to be moving like a crab. My cousin said, “ Go straight, it always works for the Mercedes.” I tried to go straight, but the back wanted to go to the left. Then the right. And then nowhere.Scion FRS badge

We got out and groaned. Everything that made the FRS a great car to drive in normal weather made it a disaster in the snow. It stared at me accusingly, like a beached shark. Bravely, my cousin volunteered to push. After all, it was a light car. I got back in, and she gamely dug in. But it was no use. There we were, stuck in Forest Hill.

Fortunately, her son had taken the day off work, and my cousin floundered through the snow banks back to her house. A few minutes later, she returned, armed with a big shovel and her young son, who was just a little too amused. He leaned against the bumper, I straightened my wheels, said a prayer, and accelerated right into the middle of Bathurst Street!

And that was that. My cousin and I sailed off to our lunch, carefully maneuvering through the drifts. There was hardly any traffic, except for the occasional snowplow and taxi.  A few foolhardy pedestrians darted out in front of us, thinking that because we were moving slowly, we could stop quickly. Oy! Thank goodness for ABS. Every so often, we lost traction at the back and would spin out slightly. A light on the dashboard would flash to let us know – as if we couldn’t tell. With the wipers working furiously, fluffy white flakes fell silently around us, and we crept closer and closer to Yorkville.

We giggled madly turning onto Bloor Street, high on the euphoria of slapping down winter. As the dirty downtown snow crunched under the skinny tires, we triumphantly parked and headed off to the Coffee Mill, where – surprise – we were the only guests.

As I commented to my cousin over open-face sandwiches, strudel and coffee, those poor fools in Florida.

They don’t know what they’re missing.

Angry FRS



32 Comments on "Scion FRS put sizzle into my life"

  1. Luigi March 24, 2014 at 2:18 pm · Reply

    I’ll wait for clear roads to try this car, thank you very much. But a fun review otherwise – thanks Krystyna.

    • Krystyna Lagowski March 24, 2014 at 8:50 pm · Reply

      Yes, this car needs to have a workout in better conditions than a blizzard!

  2. A.K.Andrew March 24, 2014 at 4:52 pm · Reply

    So great to see you back Krystyna! Wo , this sounds like an exciting little escapade. You had my attention at the start as I’ve always had Toyota’s and now have a Subaru, even if it is an older model – 1999 Outback! Driving in the snow can really be fun if you know what you’re doing -which I don’t , but fortunately my partner does, as she grew up in Chicago. Like you so Floridians don’t know what they’re missing:-)

    • Krystyna Lagowski March 24, 2014 at 8:53 pm · Reply

      Thanks, A.K.! It was actually a little more excitement than I had bargained for, and maybe the wrong kind as well. Driving in the snow can be lots of fun, as long as you don’t get stuck. Subaru with their all wheel drive (which the Subaru sportscar doesn’t have) would be fantastic, even in a blizzard!

  3. Lenie March 24, 2014 at 5:15 pm · Reply

    Your car sounds like fun but I live in Grey County and a car like yours wouldn’t be found until early May. 4-wheel drive isn’t an option here but a necessity. Hope you have many good times now that better driving conditions have arrived in the Toronto area, if not here.

    • Krystyna Lagowski March 24, 2014 at 8:55 pm · Reply

      It’s true, we’d be stranded until the thaw in Grey County. I think most people in that neck of the woods also have a snowmobile, which is really the only way to get around in the type of Canadian winter we’re having.

  4. William Butler March 24, 2014 at 5:46 pm · Reply

    Hi Krystyna,
    I absolutely love Toronto, but having escaped to the West Coast a few years ago, I must say, I’m becoming more like the Floridian snowbirds who don’t know what they’re missing.

    We have a very reliable Toyota, but I know it wouldn’t get through the deep Coquahala snow either.
    Take cheer! The warmer weather is on the way!

    Kind Regards,

    • Krystyna Lagowski March 24, 2014 at 8:58 pm · Reply

      Bill, sometimes it’s okay to not know what you’re missing. Especially if you have a reliable Toyota – which might make it through the Coquahala snow with the right tires. Send us some of your weather, will you please?

  5. Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie) March 24, 2014 at 9:49 pm · Reply

    Wow! I never doubted your bravery having read your posts, but this was some test! I applaud your temerity and it’s a great review

    • Krystyna Lagowski March 26, 2014 at 2:35 am · Reply

      Thanks, Jacquie! To be honest, I was kind of surprised at how well that car handled in the snow. But I wasn’t going that far, and on the main streets, so I figured I’d be okay.

  6. Susanna Duffy March 25, 2014 at 3:00 am · Reply

    Well done – luckily you DO drive like a girl. Congrats!

    • Krystyna Lagowski March 26, 2014 at 2:36 am · Reply

      Believe me, Susanna, there’s only one way to drive in the snow, whether you’re driving a sportscar or an all-wheel drive – and that’s slooowwwly…

  7. Paul Graham March 25, 2014 at 3:26 am · Reply

    Ontario can certainly be a challenge if the vehicle doesn’t like it. I am currently in Truro Nova Scotia. It is the pothole capital of the northern hemisphere and one of the few places where two feet of snow actually makes the driving safer ! My Jetta TDI is really quite good in the snow but if I lived here all year it would definitely be the place for a truck.

    • Krystyna Lagowski March 26, 2014 at 2:38 am · Reply

      Wow! I’d hate to be tooling around on the Truro roads when the snow melts. I’ll bet sportscars are far and few between out there. How do you like your Jetta TDI? Have you always driven a diesel?

  8. Susan Cooper March 25, 2014 at 4:06 am · Reply

    Ok, I have to say this, I am a Subaru fan so you had me at Subaru. It’s been a while since I’ve done some driving and spinning in snow. I had to laugh, because I remembered those days oh to well. Your review and description really brought those memories back in full force. Aside from the “fun”, this does sound like a great ride with some real fun to be had in any kind of weather.

    • Krystyna Lagowski March 26, 2014 at 2:40 am · Reply

      Haha, I love it! Had you at Subaru, did I?! They’re a very reliable brand, so I’m not surprised a smart cookie like you is a fan. Driving in the snow isn’t for the faint of heart, especially in a wee sportscar. And we did have loads of fun, even when the going got a little tough – which is kinda the whole point.

  9. Arleen March 25, 2014 at 4:05 pm · Reply

    We have had a cold winter and snow on the East Coast as well. I think if you can find a car like the one you tested and it works in nasty weather, then you have a find.We can’t change the weather so make it work and it looks like you do.

    • Krystyna Lagowski March 26, 2014 at 2:42 am · Reply

      Hey Arleen, I was hoping that getting a sportscar would magically change the weather landscape – but it didn’t. All told, though, it brightened up my life for a few days, and that’s almost as good.

  10. Meredith Wouters March 25, 2014 at 8:37 pm · Reply

    What a great story! I can just picture you ladies trying to push the car in the snow. Being from Texas and New Mexico, I’d be a disaster in a rear wheel drive in the snow. I love your reviews. I would normally not care about cars, but you always manage to make them interesting. Well, either you or the weather. 🙂

    • Krystyna Lagowski March 26, 2014 at 2:44 am · Reply

      Thanks, Meredith! Well, we were quite the scene to behold, bedraggled and covered in snow. There hasn’t been a winter with such bad weather for 20 years. I never know what to expect when I set out on the road, but that’s the way I like it. I’m glad you do too!

  11. Jeri March 25, 2014 at 9:10 pm · Reply

    How I envy your car escapades. It’s good to know the interior had red stitching that matched your hair 😉 One of the reasons I got rid of my Mustang was because the rear wheel drive wasn’t the best in Idaho’s winters. Sigh. Maybe someday I will drive a nice car again. At least I can do so vicariously via your blog posts.

    • Krystyna Lagowski March 26, 2014 at 2:47 am · Reply

      Yes, Jeri, that was one of the car’s best features – the bright red interior stitching! I don’t know how Road & Track missed that. Rear wheel drive provides great handling and performance, but is so impractical in bad weather. I can imagine you did your share of slipping and sliding in your Mustang! And heck, knowing you virtually as I do, I’ll bet your wheels are just as cool as you are.

  12. Debra Yearwood March 26, 2014 at 1:01 pm · Reply

    Krystyna, I was jealous until you got stuck. When you live in Ottawa having a car that can’t handle snow is a bit like a bathing suit that can’t get wet. Of course winter tires might have made a world of difference. 🙂

    • Krystyna Lagowski March 30, 2014 at 3:50 pm · Reply

      Hah! I like that, Debra. I’ve heard the snow can be ridiculous in Ottawa. So yes, this car is a little like a mink bikini. I’m not so sure that winter tires alone would have been the answer for the winter we’ve had here – there’s very little ground clearance on this car. But what the heck, had fun anyways!

  13. Sandy March 26, 2014 at 1:22 pm · Reply

    That little car would have to be stored for eight months living where I live in the great north of Canada. LOL I am happy to stay where I am (Florida) missing all the excitement – by the looks of it, I may have to extend my vacation LOL
    By the way, love your writing style.

  14. Karen March 26, 2014 at 6:43 pm · Reply

    After our winter in Georgia, I better be getting one of those to get in around in next year.

  15. andleeb March 30, 2014 at 8:48 am · Reply

    Your car is really fun and I am happy that you went to east and fond something good.
    Yesterday I was discussing with my husband to change car I will ask him , if we ca have this here and we definitely check this to have fun…
    I think all of us wait anxiously for spring.

    Nice post.

  16. Becc March 31, 2014 at 4:23 am · Reply

    I have never driven in snow and would have been terrified, particularly when the car isn’t mine. Anyway, you obviously have driven in the snow and can handle it as much as the car performed well in it 🙂

  17. Krystle Cook March 31, 2014 at 11:11 pm · Reply

    I can’t stand driving in the snow no matter the vehicle. Makes me nervous. Nice, exciting review!

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