TGIF[R-S]: Things Change in the Cold Weather


The FR-S surprised me with its winter weather capability. When equipped with snow-tires, the little Scion sports car managed to keep me from getting stuck or stranded.

But there’s more to talk about with the car’s performance in the winter than just its tires. I can happily report that there haven’t been any significant concerns, but there are some things to get used to.

Setting off in the cold, changing gears is a particularly eye opening ordeal. Putting the car into second while still cold is like trying to take a bone away from a starving dog. There’s quite a lot of rough resistance and a hint of a grind as the lever goes into the gate. Shifting from a higher rpm seems to alleviate this pain a bit, and I sometimes find myself skipping second gear entirely until it warms up.

As a lightweight car, the FR-S is a bit frail. Noise pierces into the cabin even during low-speed trips on a hot summer day. However, in the cold winter with snow tires equipped, the cabin is far worse. At highway speeds, it’s as though the radio is set between stations (even if the stereo is turned off) with road noise defeating any attempt at listening to music, or chatting with a passenger. The lack of sound-deadening is clearly noticeable; I used to relish the sound of the boxer engine as it reached up to its 7,400-rpm redline, but now all I hear is road noise – the automotive equivalent of a dial-up modem.

SEE ALSO: The entire TGIF[R-S] Series

The tires and cold weather have also affected the car’s average fuel economy. Entering the winter season, I could easily average 30 mpg on a trip. Now, that’s dropped to a paltry 22 mpg. It might not sound like much, but one of the FR-S’ selling points was its decent fuel economy, and numbers like 22 mpg aren’t anything to be happy about.

Finally, the car is an absolute chore to keep clean. Slush, snow, grit and grime all appear after even the shortest trips. The sparkling metallic blue paint that made the FR-S glow in the sunlight looks dull and uninspiring now, and it’s just depressing to look at.

Thankfully, inside it’s a different story. The plastics on the dash and around the cockpit are easily wiped. Also, Canadian spec FR-S models (like mine) come with a set of rubber floor-mats for wetter seasons.

It’s clear that the FR-S isn’t living in its ideal climate, but it’s still a blast, even in sketchy winter weather. And I’m making the most of it, hanging the tail out in snow covered parking lots whenever I can. True, the FR-S isn’t the perfect winter machine, although these complaints are but little annoyances when I think of the driving experiences that await me when spring hits.

1 Comment

doriftoo says:

damn those are some ugly rims. black steelies might have looked better