April 17, 2013
Maybe it was because I had spent most of the week driving mid-size sedans. But when I sat down in our 2013 Scion FR-S and fired it up for the drive home, I realized, yeah, this is how it's supposed to be.
What was I talking about?
April 10, 2013
Our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S hit 15,000 miles just as I arrived at work on Monday. It's aging well considering its aggressive price point, as there are no annoying rattles yet and the simulated suede upholstery still looks new. The stock audio system still sounds no better than my clock radio, but that isn't why you buy this car.
So why would you buy this car? Well, I imagine because you'd like to take it to track days like Jay Kavanagh. There's also a strong case to be made for getting an FR-S just to enjoy in your everyday life on public roads. I didn't make it to the mountain roads over the weekend, but I still had fun commuting in our Scion.
March 13, 2013
That's Mitch Pederson of MP Tuning getting busy with the BRZEdit ECU reflashing software on our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S. This is significant, as BRZEdit clears a huge hurdle in successfully implementing forced induction.
March 7, 2013
Two easy steps made our 2013 Scion FR-S faster than ever. Here's what you need to do:
Step One: Drive to Oregon. When I drove our long-term FR-S up to Corvallis, OR, I had the distinct pleasure of filling up with 93 octane. Well, someone else actually did the filling (crazy state law), but I enjoyed the fruits of that labor. In California the best fuel we can get is 91 octane. And 91 octane buh-lows.
March 6, 2013
This is not entirely unexpected. The brake pads in our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S are done. There's still meat left on them, but like any meat that's been overcooked, they feel like plywood now.
March 5, 2013
My longtime friend and fellow car enthusiast Albert pulls up next to me in his Honda S2000 and examines our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S.
"Red is my least favorite color but I would still trade my car for that any day of the week," he says. "Damn, that thing is clean."
Our friend Ian arrives in his Hyundai Genesis 2.0T R-Spec coupe and we take off for a Sunday morning drive. I was on a spirited jaunt with friends, but I couldn't help to think, "Which one of these would I want to own?"
February 19, 2013
There's no denying that our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S has a great stance with its Volk Racing wheels and stickier Yokohama Advan Neova AD08 tires we put on it. I love that it still has meaty sidewalls, too. And if you read our latest Track Tested and watched the track video, you know it has a ton more grip.
This is absolutely the wheel/tire package I'd want if I was going to use FR-S for track days, as Jay Kavanagh has, because this is exactly what you're supposed to do with this car after all.
February 7, 2013
It was a gamble. I had checked the forecast regularly in the days leading up to our Laguna Seca track weekend, and the outlook was consistently dismal. So much so that there was no sense bothering with high-performance brake pads. Normally, this is the second thing you change for a track outing in an otherwise stock car, the first being tires. So, I left the stock brake pads on our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S.
And as you've seen, the track was sopping wet. I felt vindicated in my decision to be apathetic.
Then the sun came out. And a dry line began to form on the track surface. And for a time, pretty much the whole track dried out. The twitchy, traction-devoid, edgy FR-S I knew in the rain made way for a far different animal. These Yokohama Advan AD08 tires rule in the dry. Communicative, beautifully progressive breakaway, heaps of grip. Exit speeds climbed. Braking points were adjusted.
It took roughly two hot laps in the dry for the brakes to go limp. The braking power underfoot just went into the ether as the overheated stock pads' coefficient of friction dropped like a rock. If you had told me that you'd secretly swapped my brake pads with sintered Folger's coffee grounds, I'd have believed you.
February 1, 2013
Drivers' meetings are important and necessary. And they should take no more than fifteen minutes. Longer than this means the organizer just likes the sound of his own voice.
I bring this up because the 45-minute drivers' meeting at our Laguna Seca track day left exactly four minutes to get ready to be on track. This brings up another point: If you're going to have eternity-long drivers' meetings, you should schedule the beginner group to be on track first. Newbies don't have nearly the prep time requirements of non-beginner groups.
January 28, 2013
Up until this point in its existence, our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S had only seen dry days. Life in SoCal has its benefits. This trip (part one here) would be the first time we'd find out how its more aggressive tires on wider wheels would fare in wet conditions.
But we'd gotten such a late start heading out of Los Angeles (plus the stops for photos, food and a visit to Sampson Communications to troubleshoot some equipment) that night had fallen by the time we'd peeled off Route 33 onto Highway 58. Fie, daylight savings. Now it's wet, cold and dark. It was quite likely that the soft compound of these Yokohama AD08s wouldn't have much bite on this, one of southern California's best driving roads.
This road, it turned out, was deceptive. Grip was admirable given the slip-prone conditions, and the FR-S continued to impress as a pointy, feedback-rich tool for driving. I love this car. Equally surprising was the pace Bitter Dan was able to maintain in his Exige, shod as it was on rather worn R-compounds. I would later find out just how I'd been tricked by Highway 58.
January 18, 2013
There's a difference between the shift feels in our BRZ and FR-S. It's subtle, but it exists. The FR-S six-speed simply engages its six forward gears more smoothly than the BRZ, with less clunk and resistance from the gearbox. In theory, we shouldn't be experiencing this since both cars share the same transmission.
This article from our long-time pal SubyTrojan doesn't shed much light on why we (or maybe just I) feel a difference. Maybe it's as simple as a difference in trans fluid. But it's an interesting analysis, nerdish on the powertrain details and on the development of the new transmission that sprung from the ashes of the old Lexus IS200 gearbox.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 12,500 miles
January 15, 2013
Several weeks ago, I took our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S to Laguna Seca raceway for a weekend of berms, apices and brake markers. It's an annual thing, this Laguna track weekend, and last time I chronicled the trip in several installments all bearing the title "The Beauty of Dual-Purpose Cars," in the Miata section of the Long-Term Updates. My esteemed colleague Kurt Niebuhr saddled up in Project Miata this time.
There's a lot of green (to adopt the parlance of billiards) between Edmunds HQ and Laguna Seca. Decided to make the most of it and take the bitchinest roads possible that roughly connect between the two points. So that's what we did. The collective "we" being the two of us and my friends (and Eyesore Racing co-conspirators) Bitter Dan in his Lotus Exige and Sarah in her ridonkulously clean Nissan 240SX.
One wrinkle on the voyage northwards: rain. Lots and lots (and lots!) of rain. No big deal. It had no bearing on our selected route but slowed us down a bit. The first portion of our path took us north on 101 until we peeled off on 33 in Ojai. This is one hell of a road, and the FR-S is just such a perfect car for it. It's so communicative that you can drive hard (with conditions in mind) in complete confidence.
Deep into the drive on 33 I found an oddity. I'd hear a chime-chime-chime from time to time, which makes a rhyme, I have a dime...anyway, the chime wasn't related to any particular driving style, nor were any new lights illuminated in the cluster, nor did the car drive any differently. Nonetheless, I slowed down and put the senses one click higher. Miles and miles later I realized what was causing the intermittent chime. It was the passenger seatbelt chime. Turns out that the light jacket and a half-eaten bag of dried fruit sitting on the passenger seat was enough weight to drip the seatbelt alert. Why this took some 100 miles to finally occur I have no idea.
More to come.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor
July 31, 2012
Finally got in our FR-S and damn if the car isn't every bit as good as everyone's been saying. I can sum up this car's personality in one word: harmony The FR-S is that rare automobile where everything works in perfect harmony. Steering, throttle, brakes, clutch and shifter are all blessed with a precise, linear and perfectly weighted action that all feels natural seconds after you've driven off for the first time. Smoothly arcing through turns and blasting out of them is child's play in this finely balanced and very communicative machine.
And the FR-S isn't lacking motor either. The boxer engine has ample lower rpm power and surprised me with its eagerness to run up to 7,000 rpm. So much so, that I did it again. And again. And again. That rush is accompanied by a hearty growl that grows more strident as the engine spins toward redline. Big ups to the engineers for this aural feat, accomplished by piping the flat-four's soundtrack into the cabin via a tuned honkus.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 3,952 miles
July 24, 2012
In the last Kulinary Mille post, I left off at the end of a fun canyon drive. After that, things got decidedly boring. This is the part where bugs start collecting on the grille.
July 12, 2012
It's been almost eight months since I got my first seat time in this car. Okay, it was a BRZ prototype that I drove late last year, but close enough. Back then, my time was limited, just a handful of laps around Subaru's proving grounds. Yet even then, it felt like the sports car we had been hoping for.
I was hesitant to call it great until I got behind the wheel again. I also wanted to see if there was much of a difference between the BRZ and FR-S, not to mention what my fellow editors thought about the two cars.
Now that I've seen the various comments on our FR-S, I'm confident my initial instincts were right. And after driving our FR-S last night, I'm glad to see that all the things that felt right about that BRZ prototype are still here. The precise steering, the predictable chassis and the mechanical shifter are all intact. It's hard to pick out the tuning changes of the FR-S versus the BRZ, so I'll wait until I can drive them back to back to compare.
Minor differences aside, this car is a winner. If you're worried about getting your doors blown off by a V6 Camry then this isn't the car for you.
Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com
July 11, 2012
I am not a sport compact kind of guy. I am definitely not a tuner guy. As such, I'm not exactly going to be fitting in at the FR-S/BRZ Owners of America annual barbecue.
Having said that, I fell in love with our Scion FR-S before I even left the parking garage yesterday en route to the canyons of Malibu. In short, you need to believe the hype: the FR-S is epically fun, easy to drive and surprisingly comfortable. This is just an entirely different animal from the norm and I've honestly never driven a car quite like this. The Miata comes closest, but it's still a different species. Ditto the S2000 and its high-strung engine.
It's the rear-wheel drive. It's the narrow gates and firm mechanical engagement of the gearbox. It's the tiny dimensions and the front fender flares that make the car even easier to place in a corner. It's the talkative steering, the seat-in-the-pants communication and easily detectable limits. It's the engine and its sharp throttle response, rewarding noises and useable powerband. It's the perfectly contoured seat, the spot-on driving position and the fact that I actually fit comfortably in the thing (that's a minor miracle for a small Toyota OR Subaru). It's the fact it's incredibly easy to drive -- be it aggressively or just puttering around town. Hell, it's even the strong sound system.
The Scion FR-S is quite simply a grand slam and one of my favorite cars, period. The fact that it's the result of a union between two brands that typically do absolutely zilch for me from a car guy perspective makes it even more impressive. I'm a believer.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 2,797 miles
July 09, 2012
Okay, this car is the real deal. Up until this past weekend, I'd only driven an FR-S for a few hours in Vegas, on track and in town for our Full Test. It'd made a strong impression, but there's no replacement for driving on familiar roads on your own time. This past weekend I had our longterm 2013 Scion FR-S in my care and -- unlike few real-world, attainable cars in recent memory -- I didn't want to stop driving it.
After a somewhat leisurely drive up Angeles Crest on Saturday with some friends (who brought the above BRZ, 997 and S2000), I made a more vigorous repeat trip on Sunday. It just works. The driving position, the terrific seats, the perfect pedal placement, the flat cornering, quick steering... it all comes together cohesively. Quite simply, there is nothing like this car anywhere near its price.
I am smitten by a $25,000 Scion.
Here's the thing -- its brilliant chassis is also just begging -- screaming -- for its latent potential to be unlocked. Clearly it can exploit more tire (I like Dan Edmunds' comment that the FR-S wears the most all-season-y summer tires in the world) and more power (really, more midrange punch). As this is (or will soon be) a project car, the trick will be doing so while keeping its balance intact; without making it one-dimensional. Should be fun. Already is.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor
July 06, 2012
In so many ways, our FR-S reminds me of the earlier Toyota Celicas. Sure, it's lighter, faster and better in every metric, but I think its soul remains intact.
My brother is a Celica guy, much the same way I am/was/will-be-again a Mustang guy. In 1984, he picked-up a new Celica GT-S that looked exactly like this one (louvres and all). I admit that as a teenager, I thought it was pretty rad. He loved that car, polished it endlessly and treated it well. It was stolen and recovered, survived two accidents and when he finally sent it out to pasture, he had logged 240,000 miles on the original engine. He then bought a 2002 Celica GT-S and now has 145,000 miles on it.
Had we been born 30 years later, I think the Scion FR-S would be his car of choice today. It's very capable as a sports car, yet relatively easy to live with. It's fast enough to have fun, but not so much to be a danger or menace. It's a lust-worthy object that isn't out of reach and it's what Toyota has been in need of for a long time. It is, in my estimation, the reincarnation of the Celica.
Scion positions it in the lineage of the Toyota Corolla GTS (AE86), but my associations with Celicas past have me resisting that notion. In any case, I think my brother should consider an FR-S if he ever decides to unload his current Celica. Unless, of course, a new Celica or Supra is on the way.
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 2,007 miles
July 05, 2012
Subaru BR-Z notwithstanding, I contend that the closest competitor to the Scion FR-S is the Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Price-wise, they're right in the same ballpark, but in other areas, each car has its advantages and drawbacks. Which to choose?
The Genesis Coupe is easier to live with, I think. It has a bigger trunk, a better interior and is quieter in many respects. If you go on numbers alone, it's practically a dead heat. Acceleration, braking and handling are virtually a tie (when compared to a 2.0T R-Spec Genesis we recently tested, not the base 2.0T).
The FR-S is my choice, though. It's more fun to drive and that is the top selling point for a car I'd purchase. I don't find the Genesis as confidence-inspiring as the Scion and I think the FR-S benefits from more attractive exterior styling when compared to the facelifted Hyundai.
But let's not forget about my beloved Mustang. For around the same price, you can get a 305 hp V6. With a redesign on the horizon, the next Mustang could be a game-changer, but this could be wishful thinking on my part.
What would you pick?
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 1,970 miles
June 26, 2012
Edmunds.com tests hundreds of vehicles a year, but not every vehicle gets a full write-up. The numbers still tell a story, though, so we present "IL Track Tested." It's a quick rundown of all the data we collected at the track, along with comments direct from the test drivers. Enjoy.
Part of the appeal of the 2013 Scion FR-S -- and its twin, the Subaru BRZ -- is that it is such a departure from what we're used to from Scion (and Subaru). After all, before the FR-S, the most exciting, dynamic, stylish car and the closest thing Scion had to a driver's car was the Scion tC, which we last tested as a 2011 model.
The 2011 Scion tC had 180 horsepower routed to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. Our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S makes 200 hp and pushes it to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual.
June 23, 2012
We all know that our new Long Term 2013 Scion FR-S has a Torsen Limited Slip differential. And we all know that that's a good thing. But do FR-S drivers?
For a number of enthusiasts the FR-S is going to be their first rear-wheel drive car and as such, they're going to encounter some new, and really fun, dynamic differences. Scion's taken up the job of teaching them what's what.
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.