2013 Scion FR-S: Patience is a Virtue
June 18, 2012
That's a virtue I sorely lack. I detest waiting for things, be they FedEx Ground, video game release dates, federally mandated waiting periods or break-in periods for cars/motorcycles. Thursday afternoon, the sign-out sheet made its way to my cubicle and I was offered our new Scion FR-S. There was a problem though. It still had 100 miles remaining in its break-in period.
The thing is, I really don't drive all that much on the weekends. I'll generally log more miles in the early-morning hours on my sportbike then collapse on the bed when I get home. But the curiosity surrounding the FR-S got the better of me.
I left my bike alone in the parking lot in order to push past the 1,000-mile break-in. I took my usual canyon route, keeping the revs right around the 4,000 mark. I thought it'd be torturously boring, but to my surprise, this little coupe is a ton of fun to toss into the curves.
The tires are incredibly loud as you approach the limit of adhesion, howling like a dog when a police car goes code 3 in my neighborhood. If you rush the steering by just a little bit, the steering wheel lightens up and you're greeted by a very manageable amount of understeer. Get the timing and speed right, and the FR-S starts to feel lighter -- tip-toeing on the contact patches and glides right down to the apex. Feed the throttle in right before the apex and the tail just barely starts to swing to the outside.
This new long-termer is a real hoot to drive in the tight and twisty bits. It's balanced. Not just weight-wise, but overall. The crappy low-rolling-resistance tires let you have a lot of fun without a lot of speed and the engine has just enough power to get you there. This would be a great car for someone who wants to learn how to drive hard. There's plenty of feedback and it doesn't feel like it'll kill you. Yes, this would make a great high-performance driving school car.
When I finished my loop at the L.A. County line, the odometer was reading 992 miles. On my way back down PCH, it tipped over to 1,000. Instead of heading back home, I decided to make one more pass on the first section of my loop. This time, though, I had the freedom of revs.
To my surprise, it wasn't all that more fun than the first pass, where I was limited to 4,000 rpm. It was less of a pain, for sure, but there really wasn't all that much more power for the engine to give higher in the range. Rev-matched downshifts were a lot easier, though, as I didn't have to worry about peaking the tach, and yes, the FR-S allows for perfectly executed heel-toe shifts.
My biggest fear is that when we start modding this car, the balance will shift. Stickier tires may overwhelm the engine and more power may outrun the suspension. Still, I'm excited to see what the end result will be.
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 1,081 miles