by: Mike Ginsca
When the Scion FRS was introduced, it quickly became the darling of most major tuning and aftermarket performance parts manufacturers. Now the market is abundant with tens of thousands of performance parts that range from V8 engine swaps to body kits and numerous direct bolt-ons. The customization options for the Scion FRS are endless making each car out there unique and different from the next one.
Performance – To start with, the FRS was never designed to be a track day king by setting the fastest lap time on every race track around the world. Its 2.0L boxer engine will only produce 200hp and an even less impressive 151 lb-ft of torque. To get any sort of acceleration out of the car, you really have to rev the engine past the 3000rpm mark and even then it’s not what you’d call “pin you to the back of your seat” acceleration. This particular FRS has a few bolt-ons to the engine that give it a bit more power such as OpenFlash Unequal Length headers, a Tomei Type 80R cat-back exhaust, and an OpenFlash ECU Tune but it’s still not the same feeling as you’d get from a Volkswagen GTi or a Mitsubishi Evolution X. Those and many other cars do a better job of giving you quick acceleration; however, very few can do what the Scion FRS was designed for. Going around corners in the most fun way possible… sideways.
Originally, the scion FRS is equipped with tires that were designed for maximum fuel economy rather than maximum grip. As a result of this (along with the limited slip differential, quick steering, and well designed chassis) the FRS can take almost any corner at an angle regardless of the speed. It doesn’t matter if you’re going 50km/h or 150km/h, all it takes is a clutch kick or a Scandinavian flick and a bit of throttle to get the back end to step out of line. The wider tires and wider track that the wheels provide don’t really help the tail-happy nature of the FRS because it is still easy to slide the car around corners (especially in the rain as was the case when test driving this vehicle). However, if you don’t want to go everywhere looking out of the side windows, the Scion FRS can still go around corners like a normal car. The steering wheel provides excellent feedback to the driver and correcting for the back stepping out is as easy as putting on a pair of socks. It feels like you’re just playing a video game with the difficulty setting on easy.
Comfort – The interior has remained pretty much the same as it was from the factory. The only difference being are the Sparco bucket seats and Takata race harnesses (and of course the stickers everywhere on the dash). The seats are a bit too tight for my large frame but for the owner they’re perfect. The race harnesses firmly keep your butt seated in the bottom of the seat but the downside is that now this is strictly a 2 seater Scion FRS thanks to the Cipher Racing Harness Bar. Not even the most flexible gymnast can squeeze in the back.
Although it now runs on super low profile tires and stiff Blitz ZZ-R Coilover suspension, the ride is not as harsh as one might think by looking at it. Yes, it does feel like you’re crashing when driving over a very deep pothole but for 98% of the bumps and road imperfections, the suspension copes well. One of the biggest drawbacks due to the modifications is now the noise, specifically exhaust noise. As you may have noticed from the pictures, the Tomei Type 80R Cat Back exhaust muffler has a silencer fitted to it. Even with this silencer it is still a very loud car. It’s not so bad around town where you can put it in 6th gear but on a highway it is a constant droning noise.
Odds and Ends – Now to address the elephant in the room… or rather the bunny in the room because majority of the body kit is made by the special “RocketBunny” division of Greddy. To some, the widebody kit is too much and it’s showing off in a smug way. But to others, myself included, love the style of widebody kits, outrageously large spoilers, and canards that can cut your leg off if you step too close to them. This not a full RocketBunny kit, only the front and rear fenders are from the kit. The front bumper is OEM but with a Greddy Gracer front lip and the rear diffuser is made by RE-Amemiya and was designed for the RX-7 but the owner made it fit the FRS. The rear wing, which is taller than the roofline, is made by Origin Lab and is mounted with custom shocks to allow for some flexibility otherwise it could crack the carbon fibre. The wheels are 18” SSR MS3 and measure 18×9.5 -26 on the front and 18×10.5 -39 on the rear. Apart from the rivets in the fenders, the overall package makes the FRS look like it’s a race car from a Japanese touring car championship… or out of the pages of a Japanese comic book.
The owner has really taken the appearance of the Scion FRS to the extreme and next on his list is the “oomph” to make it go as fast as it looks. It may not be to everyone’s liking, it may be too loud, too wide, too flashy but it is a lot of fun and it is a 1 of 1 car.
Thank you to the owner for providing the vehicle for the review and photoshoot.
Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.