Ever since Toyota launched the FR-S in 2013, car fans have been playing a game of “What If.”
What if the FR-S had more power?
What if it had a beefed up suspension?
What if you tried to make it into a full-on racing car?
The Scion FR-S Project Car answers those questions and Scion gave us a chance to drive it.
From the outside, the FR-S Project Car looks a lot like the limited FR-S Release Series 1.0 which it inspired: Same Yuzu-yellow paint and the same (or at least very similar) Toyota Racing Development (TRD) aero body kit and quad-tip exhaust.
But there are big changes underneath and we’ll start with the engine, which has been turbocharged to hell and back using a custom-designed setup from GReddy. Scion says the turbo and the MoTeC engine controller raise the power output north of 400 horsepower, for which the bottom end has been strengthened with JE pistons and Carrillo connecting rods.
SEE ALSO: 2015 Scion FR-S Review
For the suspension, Scion went to TRD; the short-shift and big-brake kit are the same ones we can buy here, though the coil-over suspension and rear underbody diffuser panel are from the Japanese catalog. Technically, so is the aero kit; it’s just a little different than the one on the Release 1.0 car. The wheels are 18″ Volk Racing VE40s shod with 255/35ZR18 Toyo Proxes R888 tires and the carbon fiber roof spoiler comes from Beat Sonic.
Inside, the FR-S Project Car looks a lot like a full-on race car. Its Japanese-market TRD racing seats have five-point harnesses and the back seats are gone, as are the stereo and door, roof, and pillar trim pieces. The steering wheel and shifter are from TRD of Japan and an eight-point roll cage frames the interior.
Scion invited us to drive the Project Car at Willow Springs Raceway alongside the updated 2015 FR-S. So what’s this super-Scion like to drive? To be honest, it’s pretty much what you would expect: An FR-S turned up to 15.
Again, we’ll start with the engine. Drivers with a straight-line mentality often bemoan the stock FR-S’ lack of muscle; but if you appreciate fine handling you also know that the FR-S has just enough power to deliver you from apex to turn-in. In any case, we’d be surprised to hear either camp bitch about the boosted FR-S, which displays a bit of turbo lag at low RPM but then picks up its aero-skirts and runs for the hills like a Scion possessed.
At the risk of sounding like complete geeks, we enjoyed the bird-like chirp of the turbo wastegate almost as much as the acceleration.
Obviously, all that extra power imbues the car with the ability to break the back end loose with the throttle, something that can be difficult at best to do in the stock FR-S. But the stiffer TRD suspension setup and wider, more aggressive tires compensate adequately. The handling balance reminded us of the updated 2015 FR-S, with more grip and less skittishness at the back end than the 2013-2014 models. This is a car that charges into the corners, turns in sharply and charges out with minimal fuss or drama just like the stock 2015 FR-S, but faster. Much faster.
We didn’t push the car as hard as we could — Scion mentioned this was a one-of-a-kind project car and politely asked that we be nice to it — but it was cool to see the FR-S’ potential. We’ve experienced cars that didn’t hold up well to the onslaught of extra power and a radically stiffened suspension and the FR-S Project Car proves the integrity of the FR-S’ engineering. It’s a sports car that can be scaled up to a proper racing car so to that, we say “nice work, Subaru… er, sorry, Scion.”
SO CAN YOU BUY IT?
So will we see a monster like this in production? Not likely.
The FR-S Project Car is being used to draw attention to the Release Series 1.0 cars, and perhaps as a prelude to some sort of racing, but the use of third-party bits in the engine and TRD parts everywhere else leads us to believe that Scion has no intention of turbocharging the FR-S any time soon.
That said, it did make us appreciate the basic FR-S (and it’s near-twin, the Subaru BRZ). Even with 200 hp, even with economy-minded tires, even with an interior free of a roll cage, the Scion FR-S is still one of our favorite sports cars.
Discuss this story at our Scion FR-S Forum.