TGIF[R-S]:FR-S Stars in Scion Tuner Challenge


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. If you haven’t seen the latest articles, be sure to check out the whole archive of them.

Last week I took my FR-S for its first oil-change. And while the oil is the only thing that’s been changed or modified in my car, elsewhere Scion and Subaru owners are tinkering with just about every part and panel of the sports coupe.

Scion holds a challenge every year to showcase the very best tuners, but until now, the brand hasn’t had a car that would excite true enthusiasts. Sure the xB and xD are excellent blank slates, and a great way to showcase aftermarket wheels, stereo systems, and some impressive art and paint jobs. But tuners want a car with potential that’s more than just bling. The FR-S is that car.

In Canada, Scion is running a challenge with the FR-S between three tuning groups (Top Tuner, Swag Racing and VCMC) to see who can create the best racing FR-S. I’ve got a special “in” with one of the Top Tuner team members, Edmund Manasan, who I should point out for the sake of transparency, is also an Automotive Business Development Manager (that’s corporate talk for “sales guy”) at AutoGuide parent company VerticalScope.

Top Tuner has taken some already impressive cars to the next level. Take a look at their fully built CTS-V (right) or Chevrolet Camaro (below) that were displayed at high-profile events like SEMA and the Canadian International Auto Show. The cars of Scion’s tuner challenger were displayed at Toronto’s Importfest, and will be travelling all around the country showing fans what the FR-S looks like with a bit of creativity.

Last week I visited Can-Jam Motorsports, where Top Tuner’s FR-S was being worked on by some of the best in the business.

Can-Jam is a company that has a reputation of winning, with young and established drivers like Tom McGeer (3 time North American Rally Champion) Nigel Krikorian (Holding the fastest AWD lap-time at MoSport) Richard Boake (Having 6 wins in Canadian Touring Car Champion) and current sensation Crazy Leo, who won the 2011 Rally of the Tall Pines and Subaru Presidents cup winner.

What do all those winners have in common? Each one is piloting a race ready Subaru Impreza WRX STi that’s been completely redone by Can-Jam Motorsports. Then what’s a Scion FR-S doing in the garage?

The simple answer is that the FR-S is actually made in a Subaru plant, and the engine and body panels are stamped “Subaru.” The engine is also a boxer configuration, something that’s used in all Subarus, so Can-Jam’s past experience with these engine types will be put to good use.

Scion’s Tuner Challenge has a lot of racing-oriented events. The first one is on an autocross circuit. As a result, Top Tuner has chosen to keep out of the engine, and stick to further reducing weight and improving handling.

Take a look at the doors. They’re all carbon fiber and weigh 9 lbs. Top Tuner is hoping that weight savings like these will help put them ahead of their competition.

Aside from that, Top Tuner’s FR-S also features impressive adjustable Cusco suspension as well as lightweight wheels and tires from iForged and Yokohama. The first challenge took place on the autocross circuit with VCMC taking home the win. A video of the challenge will be released shortly, and the three teams will go back to the garage to get their cars ready for the next event that is all about driver skill.

The tuning and modifications aren’t done yet. There’s a whole world of opportunity in the engine still, which is completely new, and no one knows how far you can take it. Can-Jam wasn’t spilling the beans on how it’ll achieve extra power, but Subaru’s in the past have achieved great things with a turbo-charger, so that’s always a solid option. A drag event will be coming up next, and the results of that race should set a benchmark for how fast the FR-S can be.

The tricky part is, if you add more power to the car, it can upset just how easy it is to drive. The tuners would then spend more time and money rectifying that, and could lose track of the goal of being a perfect race-car.

Overall Scion’s Tuner Challenge is showing off what the FR-S can do at the track with some creativity and performance in mind. Be sure to follow and see what parts the teams are using and how they all fare in the challenge.

If you’re interested in Scion’s tuning challenge, follow the whole series at



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Alex C says:

Holy cow. Those FR-S are really tricked out. Think any of them have a bored out engine, or turbo?

Ray says:

From reading up on this cars on none of the 3 FR-S’s in the Tuner Challenge have anything crazy like that done. 

Alex C says:

Thats too bad. This could be the real showcase of how much power the engine and car can handle.

Edmund Dante Lopez Manasan says:

Top Tuner is building in Phases.  Let’s just say Turbonetics is one of the key sponsors on this build.  I’ll make more future announcements on

Edmund Dante Lopez Manasan says:

The Scion Tuner Challenge is a 16 month program. Top Tuner is building in 4 phases. Motor R&D and turbo charging is work in progress.

Edmund Dante Lopez Manasan says:

Top Tuner is building in Phases.  Let’s just say Turbonetics is one of the key sponsors on this build.  I’ll make more future announcements on

Edmund Dante Lopez Manasan says:

Thanks Sami