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2013 Scion FR-S: Dyno Tested

2013 Scion FR-S

Yup, the dyno rollers, they just keep a-turnin'.

Immediately after wrestling the 2012 Mclaren MP4-12C to the ground, we turned our attention to the car you see here, the 2013 Scion FR-S.

Although it costs nearly one-tenth the price of the quarter-million dollar British supercar, the Scion FR-S arguably carries more significance to the automotive landscape. It marks the return of the tin-top sports car to the common man.

And is the first to dyno-test it.

Our usual instrumented performance testing of the Scion FR-S will be coming to you in the near future, but we're not allowed to share that with you just yet.

For now, let's see how its 2.0-liter FA20 flat-four fares on the dyno.

2013 Scion FR-S

By now you know this car by heart because you've read our First Drive of the FR-S and learned the 10 Things You Don't Know. That it's said to generate 200 horsepower and 151 lb-ft at the flywheel. That its FA20 engine is essentially all-new, sharing some basic architecture with the Subaru FB-series engine. That it's equipped with two -- two! -- fuel systems, a direct injection system and conventional port fuelers. And that that fuel system came from Toyota and is called D-4S.

We strapped the poppin' fresh, harlot red FR-S you see here down to the Dynojet 248 dyno rollers at MD Automotive and got busy. And when I say fresh I mean it -- the VIN tag reads "00003":

2013 Scion FR-S

Let's see, yup, 173 horsepower at the wheels is about what we'd expect based on driveline loss... its fuel cut is exactly where the tach touches red at 7400 rpm, and... what the heck is that?

That hole in the torque curve is... strange. Little dips and rises are expected, sure, but at 4000 rpm the Scion appears to lose about 14% of its torque. It was no fluke, either, as the crater showed up on every run exactly as shown above. 

The dip is a bit illusory -- it's magnified by the unusually high (for a normally aspirated 2.0-liter engine capable of making use of 7000+ rpm) lump of torque that immediately precedes it between 2500 and 3200 rpm. Apparently the dip was purposeful on the part of the FR-S/BRZ powertrain engineers -- they intentionally traded some sauce at 4000 rpm in order to gain some driveability lower in the rev range. Okay. But it's still weird.

From 4500 and 6500 rpm, the FR-S delivers a flat 140 lb-ft -- only a few lb-ft shy of its peak 143 lb-ft -- which means that the engine will remain in the heart of its max capability when you're shifting near redline like you'd do when on a racetrack or driving on roads worth driving on.

As much as I dislike "per-liter" metrics, generating more than 70 lb-ft of torque per liter -- to the wheels -- with an n/a mill is doing something right, particularly over the proportion of the rev range that this FA20 is doing it. 

2013 Scion FR-S

Let's talk consistency. This car produced the most repeatable runs on the dyno of any car in recent memory, each trace overlaying the previous one precisely. That's got to count for something, right?

Now that we've confirmed that the FR-S is performing to expectations, it's time for a quiz. Quick, name another car in the FR-S' price range also has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at an identical 200 hp?  

The Volkswagen GTI!

And it turns out I tested a GTI on this very dyno. Okay, it's a 2010 model, but the GTI hasn't changed since then. Here's how the FR-S stacks up against the GTI:

2013 Scion FR-S

First, let me be absolutely clear on this -- on no planet is a front wheel-drive hatchback an equal substitute for a proper rear wheel-drive sports car. All we're comparing here is two cars of equal rated power, cylinder count and displacement that are offered at the same price point. But, man, look at the difference in output. At no point does the GTI give up anything to the Scion, and at 3800 rpm there's a gap of nearly 100 lb-ft of torque between them.

Of course, the GTI is turbocharged and not normally aspirated, but nobody told VW they couldn't do that. On the other hand, the FA20 in the FR-S has revs on its side. Its additional 1000 rpm is not enough to surpass -- or match -- the quite-underrated GTI.

2013 Scion FR-S

Now imagine a turbocharged FR-S. That's all you can really do at this point since a) it hasn't been officially confirmed by the factory, and b) you'll have to wait at least a year and likely longer for the factory turbocharged version.

But let's not get too carried away just yet, as there's still plenty more about today's FR-S that's worth exploring. Stay tuned.

2013 Scion FR-S