Welcome to the latest installment of our weekly series: TGIF[R-S], where Features Editor Sami Haj-Assaad details the ownership experience of the Scion FR-S. So far he’s explained his reasoning to buy the FR-S, the delivery experience, the day-to-day driving feel of the coupe, and the car’s track potential and break-in procedure.
It’s now been a whole month of owning and living with the FR-S. So far it’s been a ton of fun, and has been in stark contrast to my past daily driving experience. I’ve gone grocery shopping, on date-nights, road-trips, hot-laps at the track (sitting shotgun) and even crammed my buddies in the back seats. Some things, like grocery shopping and date nights, the FR-S fared surprisingly well with. For other things, like being the designated driver for the night, the little sports coupe was ill-suited. Still, it’s been a blast, and despite complaints from my drinking buddies for more legroom, there hasn’t been an excuse to leave the FR-S at home.
IS IT SUPPOSED TO DO THIS?
However, throughout the month I’ve noticed tiny teething issues with the car. Some might excuse these as being first-gen issues, but they seem a bit more serious than that. Perusing some online forums it’s obvious I’m not alone either.
First, I’m hearing a lot of strange noises (similar to the chirp of a cricket) from the hood at idle. The crickets seem to quiet down once I used a non-ethanol blend of fuel, but we only have that in the form of 91 octane. Since the car recommends 93 octane (something that isn’t available here) I usually fill it up with 94. However, it turns out that our 94 octane fuel uses a blend of ethanol, which apparently the FR-S doesn’t like. I’ll be sure to bring this up to Scion when my car goes in for its first service, and hope that somehow, a fix is issued. It’s a bit of an inconvenience to get gas at only one station that has the right pump.
The other odd thing that happened to me occurred while I was waiting at a stop light in neutral. The car’s idle rpm dropped all the way down to about 400 rpm, right to the point of stalling, then bounced back up to proper idle. It was odd, and apparently is affecting several FR-S owners. Luckily, I’ve only encountered this issue once, and I’m not sure what all the variables involved are, but I’ll keep a log if I notice it happen again.
These issues are troubling but won’t stop me from getting the most out of the car. Over the weekend, News Editor Stephen Elmer grabbed a Hyundai Genesis Coupe and we did a fun drive on some windy country roads near-by.
The two cars gathered a lot of attention, and looked great in this sort of environment. Perhaps most entertaining was chatting with other drivers, many of who couldn’t believe these two sports cars came from brands like Toyota and Hyundai.
Steve and I even traded cars a few times to get some good driving impressions. My first thought on the Genesis was that it was incredibly powerful, mainly because we had the (much more expensive) 348-hp V6 model. Additionally, the Genesis has a much more feature-rich cabin, including leather-seats and touch-screen navigation.
Compared to my FR-S, the Genesis is big. Everything it does feels bigger and heavier. The gear-changes, while smooth, require some real arm work, whereas on my FR-S they’re slick and effortless. Styling wise, the cars are very edgy, although I’d give my vote to the FR-S… but only just. While an absolute beast and a superb car, it’s just not as focused as my FR-S. There’s no buyer’s remorse for this FR-S owner.
The FR-S felt right at home on those roads. Sure I had to work hard to keep up with the Genesis on the straights, but when the roads got tangled up, the FR-S was much more fun to drive, and easier to maintain, even at higher speeds. It was also interesting how the much-maligned skinny tires managed to communicate their limits so I wouldn’t careen off the side of a cliff. When they squeal and whine, you know exactly what you’re doing to them.
The whole experience was a true eye-opener for me. I’m now taking all suggestions from drivers in the area for the best ‘driving road.’ I also feel like I’ve now experienced the car in almost all possible circumstances: autocrossing, city driving, on the big track, road-trips and back country roads. The car is surprisingly capable in all situations, and truly makes a case for itself as a true beginner’s sports car.