2015 Scion FR-S Drive Details:
It's safe to say that the Scion FR-S has become an automotive phenomenon with its nimble handling, handsome retro looks, and fairly affordable price tag. It captures the Toyota sport heritage from the Sports 800, the 2000GT, and the beloved AE86. Gearheads rejoice with its rear-wheel-drive layout for some sideways action. Scion itself has always had youth appeal simply because of its price point and fun attitude. And for the past two years the car has been the star at trade shows such as SEMA and Tokyo Auto Salon. As you would imagine when Scion invited Super Street to test-drive a variety of brand new and tuned Scion FR-S models to compare against the 2014 model we simply couldn't resist.
The heat at Streets of Willow in Rosamond, California on a July afternoon is unbearable, but who cares with a chance to push a fleet of Scion FR-S models to the limit. Before we did any driving though we were invited to try out the new Greddy FR-S RC car built by Team Associated. The five fastest drivers were eventually placed in a 20-lap sprint race where Super Street's Mike Sabounchi took first and I took last because "someone" hit my car so hard it was rendered useless. I could've taken 2nd place. Just saying.
Back to the real world racetrack and first up were the 2015 Scion FR-S models. The exterior has minimal changes with a new shark-fine antenna and automatic on/off headlights. The interior gets an updated trim. Our favorite additions are the knee cushions, which are perfect for long road trips. The price tags have not changed: $24,900 for a manual and $26,000 for an automatic.
After lapping Streets of Willow Sam Du says, "I could feel the balance was a tad better but didn't actually start asking questions until after driving both old and new cars. Then I realized the '15 Scion FR-S model featured revised suspension components and re-tuned shocks. You should note it's not a huge change. You probably wouldn't feel much of a difference regular street driving but when pushing the car on the track it's noticeable. The car tends to stay in control more as the rear-end doesn't slide out as easily."
Next we hopped into a silver 2015 Scion FR-S equipped with a few TRD goodies including the 18-inch alloy wheels and a quick shifter kit, which is awesome. The combination of the TRD springs and sway bars made for a stiffer drive on the track. I'm no Nobutero Taniguchi, but when entering a corner too fast it still kept me planted on the track. I felt really confident driving it as hard as I could. The TRD performance dual exhaust provided a low raspy growl and the air intake gave a smoother acceleration throughout the RPM range.
Sam Du says, "You would think something offered from the dealer might be on the conservative side but I was surprised how much of a difference the TRD lowering springs, sway bars, shifter kit and brake pads made. The chassis felt much stiffer than stock and I could push the car that much harder without feeling like I was going to drift the backend out. Honestly, this car was the most comfortable car to drive on Streets of Willow because the power was easily manageable but the tighter chassis made for effortless driving."
Unfortunately, we were only able to stare and admire the rare Scion FR-S Release Series 1.0 since it was the pre-production model. As a Scion FR-S owner myself, it was still a stunner with the TRD aero kit painted in Yuzu yellow and a slightly lower stance with the TRD lowering springs. Drivers wrap their hands around a TRD steering wheel and shift knob in the interior. Only 1,500 units of the Release Series 1.0 will be available, so get on that list quick. The MSRP for one of these bad boys will be $29,990 for the manual gearbox and if you must drive an automatic be prepared to fork over $1,100 more at $31,090.
The highlight of the afternoon was gaining the keys to Scion FR-S TRD Project Car. It featured a host of TRD parts from TRD Japan. The front lip, fender garnishes, and the rear underbody diffuser are a tad bit different compared to its USDM counterpart. Handling is refined with TRD coilover suspension, which made the car very predictable and responsive. For shoes, TRD chose Volk Racing VE40 wheels wrapped with Toyo Proxes R888 tires. The race-ready interior offered a custom 8-point roll cage and TRD bucket seats to hold the driver and passenger in place. Underneath the bonnet isn't your ordinary FA20 motor either. Internals have been swapped for JE pistons and Carillo rods. Additionally, a Greddy turbo kit has been added to produce 400hp to the wheel. As you would imagine, acceleration was blistering. On the straights this car will sink even a guy my size into the bucket seats. The TRD big brake kit was then installed to tame the yellow beast.
"A look at the Scion FR-S TRD Project Car gives fans a sense of all the possibilities for this dynamic vehicle," said Scion Vice President Doug Murtha. "The strong motorsports influence powers up the project car and delivers the same flavor in a more accessible way through the FR-S Release Series 1.0."
Sam Du says, "The most fun car of the day was the TRD Project Car - 400+hp, built engine, Greddy turbo, TRD coilovers and seats, eight-point rollcage, Toyo R888 tires, plus much more... This yellow beast is something we wish everyone could get a chance to drive. When tuned properly the FR-S handles like a champ and with this engine setup it had the power to back it up. This FR-S could accelerate to 100mph on the straights without breaking a sweat. And what I loved most was that the power was surprisingly linear. You weren't going to break the tires loose when boost hit, but power and speed would climb quickly and smoothly. Now if only our own Ratchet Bunny had this much power, I would be one happy kid!"
After lunch I got the chance to ride shotgun with Formula D driver Ken Gushi where he showed me how to really drive around the track. A little friendly advice, don't stuff your face with enchiladas before riding with Ken. He probably took it easy with the other journalists, but I made sure he gave me the full racing experience and did he deliver as you can see in the video above.
At the end of the day we snapped some photos of Ken Gushi's personal Scion FR-S 1.0 Series and the TRD Project Car. I'm sure all the journalists there will agree the latest offerings from the Scion and TRD camp are improvements over models of the past.