Finally~! I can post this up! My review of SCION FR-S. Enjoy
Recently, I’ve been invited to test drive the SCION FR-S. This is gonna be a review of the FR-S. Other stuff, I’ll post em on other threads. The reason for this is, I wanna make this as detailed as I can & leave the other stuff on the other posts.
I had a chance to do 4 major tests to SCION FR-S. 1. City/Freeway driving 2. Figure 8 (skidpad) 3. AutoX and 4. Track. I’ll go over each one and with my driving impressions.
Note: I’m no pro driver, so all my feedback doesn’t apply the same to everyone. Just take it with a grain of salt.
After the presentation, we were grouped in two people per car to drive the FR-S to the local circuit. On the way there and back to the hotel, we had a chance to drive in the city, canyons & freeway. Driving to the circuit, we were given the AT tranny and driving back we were given the MT tranny. While driving this car in the city, I was looking for 5 major things: 1. comfort, 2. views, 3. dip & dump, 4. handling, and 5. power.
1. Comfort – when I sit inside the car, is it too tight? is it Crammed? I’m about 5’10″ish weighting 180’s and when I sit in this car, it fits nicely. For all the skinny people out there, it’ll snuggle perfect too. My partner was Moto Miwa (from Club4AG) and he’s a lot lighter than me, but its nice and snuggle on him too. Everything is where you want it, so you didn’t really have to move around. All the knobs were there, shift knob wasn’t far or too close. Side brake is right next to shift knob, but it didn’t get in the way, everything was just perfectly around you and didn’t have to make any effort at all.
2. Views – Not gonna lie, rear quarter windows are worthless. Can’t see much from those windows… so did I have a blind spot? No, help of side mirrors? I had a very tiny blind spot. Side mirrors are bigger than I’ve expected. I always had in mind sports car = crappy side mirrors, well this wasn’t the case. It was decently big to cover the blind spots and drive without any worries. I don’t say, this car was part of my body, but it close enough that, after driving for few mins, I can tell where the tires are and where the front bumper & rear bumper are.
3. Dips & Bumps – I thought, this should have it’s own section. Dips & bumps are important part of daily driving. Daily roads have dips & bumps and we go over a sports car’s weakness is dips & bumps in the road. I went through a few dips and bumps and gotta say, the suspensions are working awesome. No, it wasn’t luxury car suspension and absorb all the shocks, but FR-S’s suspension absorb enough shocks that it didn’t bother me much.
4. Handling – I was worried about the EPS (Electric Power Steering) but man, it felt great! It actually have firm feel to it you know you’re actually drive a car, not some kind of spaceship car you hope you’re steering in the right areas. FR-S is wearing Michelin Primacy HP summer tires (215/45R17 87W), it’s amazing how it handles. Few times, I’ve forgotten this car was wearing eco tires. Lightweight sure help out in this area, when you turn into the corner eco tires wall rolls, but this did not roll. I’ve pushed this tires a few times… well, I’ll be honest several times on the road. Because I’m forgetting that FR-S is wearing eco tires.
5. Power – Several shops have already seen the dyno FR-S and all of them saw that dip in TQ. More technical drop of torque between 3,000RPM to 4,500RPM, 20TQ drop in 4,000RPM. A while driving in, I’ve always check the RPM to check for feeling of torque lost in 3,000RPM~4,500RPM and I seriously couldn’t feel the torque losted. Only time I’ve felt the “kinda of” torque lost was max AC with two people in the car. Even then, I was like “Prob… Kinda… maybe… that was the dip?” with big question mark in my head. You do not feel any lost in torque drop at all like it shows in the graph. I’ve purposely put it in 3,000RPM to 4,500PRM to overtake few cars and I didn’t feel any lack of torque at all, it felt the same as overtaking with higher RPM.
Figure 8, we had a teacher waiting for us to let us know how manuver on the course. Of course, it’s none other than SCION FR-S drifter Ken Gushi. First, Ken would drive and we sit in passenger side and see how he drifted around. We used the MT tranny for this.
After Ken has finish showing us “how to”, we drove ourselves to see if we can do as good as Ken… well, we learned really quick that we weren’t as good as Ken. First try, all of us spun out left and right.
When we get to 2nd, 3rd try, we got how FR-S works in slipping condition (not calling it “drifting” cuz, it sure wasn’t great drifting lol), most of us were getting it. As for me, after 3rd try I got a few good ones in there… til I got too close to inside of one cone and hit the side brake early, result was I ate the cone in last corner… I ate it really good.
Important note: TC & VSC – While we were doing figure 8’s, we had TC & VSC off and I didn’t have any problem with TC or VSC kicking in. The whole time TC & VSC were turned off and it stayed that way.
Next up was AutoX. This time we used AT with VSC Sports mode (TC off). Major things I was looking for are 1. inside support, and 2. handling. It was a small track that, I can’t really compare or comment about power.
1. Inside Support – Inside is how the seat kept me inside while cornering and steering the wheel. I think the vid explain more than I can. So here’s a vid of me doing 4 laps of AutoX. On the side note, I’m no great AutoX’er, so if you gonna flame me about how slow I am, don’t bother. I wasn’t running for a time, I was feeling the chassis roll, suspension, tires, brake and handling.
As you saw, I did both Drive mode and Manual mode. Result? They both work perfect. I didn’t have any preference on either one. Drive mode down shifted when needed. In Manual mode, few times I had a hard time finding a paddle shift. Those time, I just used a shift knob to down shift. I’m a manual person, so having paddle shift was something I needed to get used to. Other than that, I didn’t really have any complain doing AutoX in AT tranny.
Moto-san did good runs of both grip & little side way.
As you can see from the vid, FR-S can do without a problem… it’s all up to your skill.
2. Handling – It’s amazing. This car tells you exactly what you are doing to it. Its feedback is direct. If there’s an understeering, you feel it instantly, so you just press more gas. If there’s an oversteering, you feel it instantly, so you release the gas. You feel everything every second, every millisecond, it doesn’t delay, it doesn’t hide anything.
For some prideful driver, this car might hit em like a brick wall. FR-S balanced really well with, enough power, enough grip, enough brake power, enough everything and no extra anything. Because all the crappy driving you do isn’t the car’s fault. It’s all you and not the car. You can totally tell/feel it and can’t deny one single bit. You can blame the eco tires, you can blame doesn’t have 300~600hp… but when all comes down to it, if you lack of driving skills, don’t blame the tires, the engine, or the car at all.
Lastly is track. We ran at Spring Mountain (Radical Loop section). About 6 laps each turns rotating with different drivers. Track was very unique and technical along with not much long straight line, but long corners with few hairpins which made a perfect match with the FR-S gears. At the Track, I’ve tried both AT and MT tranny. Which one was the best? Both, they’re both great. I think I’ve ran faster time with AT tranny than MT tranny… but I haven’t timed it, so I can’t say 100% for sure.
I’ve never ran at Spring Mountain, so AT let me focus on the driving instead of shifting and other stuff. Just memorizing the course, braking, and cornering speed. If you’re going to say “You’re a wuss for not choosing MT. I’ve been driving MT for my whole my life, so I’m not going to have that problem.” Well, try racing in the track that you’ve never driven and the car that you’ve never driven before, it becomes a completely different story. All my wishes for starting out with the AT were declined. Sadly all the AT was taken, so I started out with MT. Which was kinda worrisome, but all the worry disappeared after every lap. Each corner I’ve taken, FR-S tells me what I’m doing wrong and what I’m doing right. It makes me want to run faster and faster. Heel & toe come natural, rev line was easily felt, braking limit was firm to see.
2nd time I’ve ran MT, I ran it without TC or VSC. It can get a little tail-happy, but it’s not something you can’t handle, if you can control your urge to go side ways. You can tell/feel rear is coming out, so you can act fast enough to control this tail-happy and even if go over the limit of the tire’s traction. You can easily adjust it back. TC & VSC off, I was really having a fun time. Really pushing each lap, how to cut the time of every corner, how to come out of a corner faster, and how to delay the braking.
I’ve ran only once with the AT tranny (Hey gotta work and take some pics). As for AT tranny it was no less than MT, I had a fun time with AT also. In Drive (VSC Sports-mode), it downshifted when I needed extra push, it upshifted instantly, it rev lively, and throttle response was great. Manuel-mode, it was shifting faster than I can with MT, so maybe that was the reason for faster time in lap time. Again, Drive or Manuel mode, they work just as or even better than MT.
Now, I’m not going to write all positive stuff and say “FR-S is the best car, I’ve driven all my life.” I’m going to be honest about every single thing. Here are some things I wish little more.
1. Dead Pedal – This might be personal preference, but MT or AT, dead pedal was little bit far and felt a bit uncomfortable. I wish for inch or maybe 3/4 inch closer.
2. Cluster – Gauges set nicely… except for speedometer. In the RPM it already show how fast you’re going, Not even once, I have watch speedometer on the left at all, instead I was watch the speedo in the RPM. Felt waste of gauge and space.
3. Dash – Door panels were made nice… but dash’s quality wasn’t too great. It’s way better than some of German car dash, but kinda wish they did better job like door panels.
4. Seats – Seats snuggle perfectly into everyone and can adjust the height… but can’t adjust the angle of seat. Not the back part, but your butt part. Most of current sports car can adjust height, back angle and butt angle, but not in FR-S. Kinda wish they had this option.
5. Options – Japan has Climate control vs US don’t. Yes, I’m kinda complaining about small thing, but it’s something I was hoping to see in this option of the SCION. That may be for “Start button” for some of you. Wish to see more options in FR-S in the future.
Now, I’ll write some stuff that I really loved about FR-S.
1. AT tranny – FR-S AT tranny really amazed me. I’ve driven MT all my life and thought that I’ll always buy MT cars only. This AT tranny sure got me debating which tranny I want for this car. Seriously, this AT tranny cannot be underestimated by any means. I’ve stated to SCION reps, but if I went to dealer and they sold out all MT tranny and only have AT tranny FR-S, I’ll take it in heartbeat. It’s that good of a tranny.
2. Tires – Again, how this eco tires can handle so well is a mystery. You can use these tires on daily roads to work and back home on weekday, On the weekend, drive to AutoX event with this tires, compete and drive back without any problem. It doesn’t kill ride comfort nor grip… it’s in between and it do hellova damn good job.
3. Sound (not audio) – Toyota have put sound enhancer to put the intake sound into inside. Just driving normally, the sound is low that it doesn’t bother… but when you want to floor it, man, sound so great! It’s not an annoying bee sound, but low tone to keep your conversation with friend, listening to audio with yelling or pumping up the volume.
4. Lightweight – Seriously, lightweight is a weapon. Few days before test drove SCION FR-S, I’ve test drove Nissan 350Z and Hyundai Genesis Coupe. They were great cars… but they were heavy weights and you can feel that heavyweight in the car. FR-S, you can feel this car is light, result anything you do to it, it responds quickly.
5. Colors – It was a first time, I’ve seen all the FR-S color options and gotta say, pictures do not justify. All the colors looks amazing in person. All 7 colors looked great, even Blue! Blue looked really great. Yes, I said it, some of you know that I don’t really care for Blue, but it looked really nice in person. Same goes with Orange. I was thinking like 350Z’s copper orange feel to it, but it wasn’t. Now, I’m really confuse which color I want.
If you just see the numbers on the sheets, SCION FR-S isn’t amazing. Not the fastest 0-60, don’t have 300hp/300tq, don’t have turbo… but, after driving this car, it amazed me in many ways. You can argue and say many things just with a number… but after driving this car, you will wonder if those numbers are really true. Because, it sure doesn’t feel like that. SCION FR-S respond to what and how you drive, doesn’t lie or hide it. I’m not going to say, this car is the best car out there, because it’s not. BUT if you going to judge this car by number and not test drive it, you will eat your words and regret it. When Tada-san said “Built by passion not by committee.” it’s truly is bring back passion to driving, how fun driving can be and truly put a smile on your face.