TGIF[R-S]: Unleashed

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TGIF[R-S]: Unleashed

Welcome to the latest installment of TGIF[R-S], our series where Features Editor Sami Haj-Assaad details his purchasing and ownership experience of the new Scion FR-S. If this is your first time seeing the series be sure to check out the first articles, where Sami talks about his decision to buy the FR-S, and takes delivery of his new car. Last week Sami discussed what one week of the FR-S is like.

For two and a half weeks my FR-S teased me, saying “not yet” every time I wanted to wring it out. See, Scion (or Subaru, I’m not sure who decided it) outlined a strict 1000 mile (1600 km) break-in period. For that entire time the car was limited to 4000 rpm and I couldn’t run the car for a long period of time at the same engine speed and road speed.

In regards to the rpm limitation, for performance reasons the FR-S has a shift light that’s very easy to set. In this case, however, I used it to keep my thrills in check, setting it to go off at 4000 rpm with an audible beep – although after I heard it twice I decided it was too annoying and had to be turned off. Then, to defeat the steady engine and road speed rule, I had to take a few extra side-roads home and to work.

BYE BYE BREAK-IN PERIOD

I couldn’t wait for the break-in period to be over. As luck would have it, I hit the threshold at a metered on-ramp, so I did what anyone in my situation would do… I snapped a pic of it, then proceeded to take the car to its 7400 rpm red-line. Oddly enough, that was harder than I thought it would be. The two and a half weeks of sub-4000 rpm shifts had me reaching for the gearbox as soon as possible. Stupid muscle memory.

Breaking that habit is a ton of fun though and the car encourages it. Each step up the rev range, the little FR-S makes an even greater noise and rewards you with even more power. It took time for me to enjoy the sound of the boxer four, but now, and especially higher in the revs, I can say it’s a great sound. It obviously helps that the car has a sound resonator that pipes some of the engine noise into the cabin.

What’s the car like near its redline? In a word: lively.

When cruising in sixth gear on the highway, however, the car stays at around 2000 rpm and isn’t ready for quick acceleration. Designed to help deliver solid fuel economy numbers, 26 mpg in my driving so far, you have to downshift all the way into fourth to pass traffic.

FR-S ON THE BIG TRACK

Last week I mentioned that Scion has set up events both to bring together the brand community and to showcase the performance of the FR-S. I was fortunate to attend one of the latter, taking place at Canadian Tire Motor Sport Park (formerly Mosport), one of the fastest and scariest tracks this side of the Nurburgring.

The long trek to Mosport was uneventful, but worth the drive. Scion had two cars set up in a small autocross circuit, as well as two professional drivers whipping the FR-S around CTMP’s 10 corners.

My first test-drive of the FR-S ever took place on an autocross circuit, so I was already acquainted with the it in that regard. Naturally, I went straight to the big track to see what the FR-S could do.

Scion hadn’t booked the whole track for themselves so other lapping day attendees were there, driving their Porsches, Miatas and even a Ferrari. And all of them were swooning over the FR-S.

Clearly the FR-S hotshoes Scion brought out didn’t give a flying hoot about the other cars on the track. My chauffer told me the car was only on stage-one of the traction control system and that he was only giving eight-tenths.

If he hadn’t said it, I would have believed we were going full tilt. At the hands of a professional the car is incredibly quick, slicing through the turns without a hint of a complaint. If any of the FR-S non-believers and internet trolls who continuously rip on the car for having “just 200-hp” and “Prius tires” had been in my seat, this rebuttal would have hit them like a keyboard to the teeth.

I asked him if his brakes were getting mushy, and he said he was surprised that even after 3 hours of tracking the brakes were still solid – a testament to its light weight. He did point out that the FR-S is a momentum car, and to get its best, you need to carry as much speed as possible throughout the track.

The drive was a blast and ended much too soon. It was better than any recent rollercoaster ride, and had me itching for a chance to pilot my FR-S around the track myself.

Check TGIF[R-S] next week when Sami and News Editor Stephen Elmer take the FR-S and a V6 Genesis Coupe to the windy roads and find out how the FR-S feels in comparison to the much more powerful Genesis. Also, after a month of owning the FR-S, has anything gone wrong? 

  • Alex C

    Glad to hear someone is actually experiencing the car like its meant to be. 

  • Jason C

    great article – loving this series.

  • Graeme

    Its hard to remove the smile of your face after really getting to put it down. Its as quick as it needs to be without getting into too much trouble on city streets. I can only imagine what its like to experience on a track.

  • dbzimp

    I beginning the third week of ownership with my FR-S and every day it still has me grinning like an idiot; the performance limits of this car far exceed my limited abilities but it is one hell of a great teacher and if I make a mistake it tells me better luck next time and I know you can do better! So far the only morons that have tried to crowd the centerline and try to side swipe me are those in s.u.v./c.u.v./p.u. trucks but what can you except from a bunch of billybob dumbasses!

  • Ed H

    I can’t wait to hear once you get it out on track! Everything I’ve read.. it’s supposed to be incredible. Seriously considering this as my next car.

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