By on August 7, 2012

“This car,” Derek Kreindler told me as we grabbed third gear down Toronto Motorsports Park’s front straight, “is like a GT-R for a guy who lives in his mother’s basement.” He had a point. Some American subcultures practice what I think of as immobile ambition — think of all those McMansions with no furniture and a double-income couple anxiously hoping someone will stop by and be impressed by the bridal staircase and crown moldings. Other subcultures are all about getting out in the street and showing off your clothes, your ride, or your woman.

The men of Generation Y aren’t marrying hopeful little starter wives, buying hopeful starter homes, and having hopeful little parties the way their parents and grandparents did in their twenties. Instead, they’ve boomeranged back to the stucco-fronted McMansions of their teenaged years so they may contemplate their student-debt-to-likely-career-prospects ratio at their leisure. Their culture is a mobile one. It’s about getting out of the house, which doesn’t belong to them. What better way to do it than with a $25,000 sports car, paid for with Mommy’s mad money or an afternoon shift at the Barnes & Noble record counter, mostly spent furtively spinning a Ra Ra Riot disk instead of the recommended Diana Krall Christmas album and checking Facebook on one’s iPhone? And after twenty-five years of receiving awards for participation and surfing along on a wave of grade inflation, Gen Y has enough self-esteem to view a full-priced sporting car with a healthy dose of ironic contempt. A Corvette is “trying too hard”, and trying too hard is something one simply never does, you see.

That’s the rather labored social context of the FR-S: all the mad tyte JDM dopeness one can finance for $425 a month. It’s a perfect fit. The problem comes when one views the FR-S in a different context: that of its readily available competition.

 

In the end, it’s the pricing context that will determine the fate of the little Toyobaru. At $17,500, the FR-S would have been the hottest new car in years. At $33,000, it would fall into the kind of deep dealership sinkholes that used to capture cars like the normally-aspirated 300ZX and Supra.

We chose to compare the FR-S with two cars which have found a happy home around the $24,955 “Scion Pure Price” which your despicable local Toyota dealer will no doubt envision as the top line of a long dealer-added-equipment list: the Hyundai Genesis 2.0T R-Spec ($26,500) and the Mazda MX-5 PRHT ($27,540). The venue, as previously noted, was Toronto Motorsports Park. We shared cars and facilities with our sister publication AutoGuide for the test. Using a “DriftBox”, AutoGuide’s time-trial driver Dave Pratte entered what he calls “attack mode”, recording a lap time of 1:26.2 for the FR-S and a 1:25.0 for the Genesis 2.0t R-Spec. These times were so outrageously good — up to seven seconds better than what other publications had recorded under similar conditions — we didn’t bother to try to beat them.

Instead, I called on my friend, TrackDAZE senior instructor and Camaro-Mustang-Challenge champion Colin Jevens, to help me put the Scion, Mazda, and Hyundai into their proper places. We put dozens of laps on the cars, compared notes, and discussed various arcane aspects of suspension tuning until everybody around us was wayyyy past ready to pack up and go home. If you’re able to read a headline, you can see the results of those discussions: the Scion finished what Motor Trend would probably call “second runner-up” but what TTAC calls DFL. Why?

First things first: your humble author kind of loves the FR-S. I tried to buy one, even. I like the way it looks, inside and out. I like the proportions, the size, the interior. I like the sound of the boxer four. I even like the Scion brand and philosophy, enough so that I would pick an FR-S over a BRZ even though from my perspective the price difference between the two is nonexistent and the BRZ has more stuffs.

I have personal reasons to want an FR-S as well. Nearly thirty years ago, my father borrowed his girlfriend’s “sports car” so I could check it out. It looked exactly like this:

That’s right: a black 1984 post-bowtie Celica GT-S. Black velour bucket seats. Graphic equalizer. Fender flares. Five-speed manual transmission. Hidden headlights. I wasn’t a stupid twelve-year-old; I’d already driven a few cars myself thanks to my mother’s easily-charmed female friends and I knew the Celica was slow even by the standards of the era. But it looked sooooo cool. The interior was a dark, private cave that could easily contain not one, but three yoga instructors. It may have been all show and no go, but the show was pretty good. I couldn’t even bring myself to tell the old man it was a sled. To this day, I’m reasonably sure he thinks it was a Supra.

The FR-S is totes the Celica GT-S coupe for the modern era. It’s stylish, it has a completely blacked-out cave of an interior which calls to the basement-dwelling teenager in all of us, and it is likely to be popular with the ladies due to its Scion badge and lack of spine-crushing acceleration. If you want to buy one just because it’s an FR-S, you have my blessing.

The problem comes when you make two comparisons. The first one, ironically enough, is to that ’84 Celica. That Celica had the famous 22R-E Toyota engine. Keep it maintained and throw a chain in it from time to time, and that Celica will last forever. The FR-S, by contrast, has a Subaru engine. I don’t want a Subaru engine in my FR-S. To some extent, that’s like putting a Northstar in a Lexus: hey, it’s boring, but now it will blow up and die! I don’t want to become an expert at swapping head gaskets. I don’t want to do all my maintenance from underneath the car. I want the engine from the dearly-departed last-gen Celica GT-S. Or the turbo engine from the All-Trac before that. In fact, I’d just rather have a JDM last-gen All-Trac, or the CALTY-designed bar-of-soap All-Trac which preceded it. Hell, give me a first-gen All-Trac. Know how much power the ’89 All-Trac had? As much as the FR-S. Where’s the progress? I want a Toyota engine in my Toyota. I want the car to last forever, with no hassle. It’s part of the promise of buying a Toyota. The FR-S, by those standards, breaks the promise. If I am willing to do my own head gaskets, I can buy an STi for similar money, crank the boost, and humiliate the FR-S both down the freeway and on the racetrack.

Our second comparison happens on the racetrack, as fate would have it, and that’s where the FR-S should shine. It’s a great steer, in the literal sense. It’s nice to steer around. It’s about as “neutral” as a street car gets and it does whatever you ask of it. As long, of course, as what you ask doesn’t include going quickly. The Genesis simply eviscerates it. Dave Pratte’s super-quick lap times don’t adequately demonstrate the difference between the two cars. The Genesis is much faster down the straights and in the turns the actual corner speed is pretty much the same.

An FR-S with a Genesis-matching two-liter turbo engine — which is to say, an FR-S that Toyota could easily build in their sleep, from the parts bin, and eliminating Subaru from the equation to boot — would be preferable to a Genesis on-track. That would be the car to have. Get the drivetrain out of the last All-Trac, crank the boost a bit, forget the crap about the center of gravity, and let’s have a great car, okay?

As delivered, the FR-S is not quite a great car, and the boxer is to blame. Half of the time, it can’t even get the “Toyobaru” up to track speeds where the infamous all-season tires would feel loose. It doesn’t give any sense that it’s making the rated two hundred horsepower. It’s a bunch of sound and fury signifying that you’re about get passed by a Hyundai which costs less. Ten laps in the Hyundai will absolutely spoil your FR-S enjoyment, because the Hyundai simply motors away everywhere there’s a chance to do so, and it can play the ’84 Celica Game too: it’s also a deep, dark Oriental cave of a closed coupe and it also looks sporting from a distance. Why buy the FR-S when the Genesis is available? Because it’s a Toyota and therefore reliable? Well, it’s a Toyota with a Subaru engine.

At this point, if you’re part of the FT-86 owners club/clique/Facebook page, you’ve no doubt constructed an elaborate mental response about how the FR-S is lighter, and more nimble, and a far better driver’s car than the Genesis, and how a true driver, a guy who knows anything about cars, would, like really see that. A real driver would prefer the filet mignon of midcorner adjustability to the high-fructose syrup of an overboosted turbo.

Guess what? A real driver prefers the Mazda Miata.

Compared to the Miata, the FR-S feels a thousand feet wide and two tons heavy. The visibility is dismal. The engine feels no stronger than the little four in the Mazda and it doesn’t respond as readily to small changes of throttle position. The steering, sublime when sampled individually, seems to be a little short of the Miata’s. All of a sudden, you realize that the FR-S isn’t the “Miata coupe” that some Internet player-haters called it when the specs came out. It isn’t that good. A true Miata coupe would run rings around the FR-S. A true Miata coupe would make the FR-S obsolete overnight. It’s within Mazda’s power to render the FR-S as irrelevant as Rick Springfield’s entire career.

Even against the hardtop Miata however, the FR-S is still second best, and in my opinion (although not the opinion of Colin Jevens, who believed it to be slightly more fun overall than the R-Spec) it can’t match the Genesis either. It’s too slow to beat the Hyundai and too limp to match the Miata. The English phrase “falls between two stools” applies here, but where the Scion really falls, in the end, is in last place. Yes, you can mod the hell out of it and have a great time, but as we will show you in a special “Zeroth Place” supplement at the end of this series, there are better choices for that, too. It’s back to the basement for the Future Toyota – Eighty-Six.

Images courtesy Julie Hyde, who wants you to know that her lens wasn’t working correctly.

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188 Comments on “Boomerang Basement Bolides — Third Place: Scion FR-S...”


  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Mother’s basement?…FTW! Hilarious! I do know one with a FRZ, yup!

    I shocked you beat the ~1.5s deficit of twins track times other comparos reveal.

  • avatar
    mjal

    But, doesn’t the boxer engine help in the balance of the car, center-of-gravity, etc.?

  • avatar
    raph

    Meh… I’ve said it before, nothing an extra hundred horsepower wouldn’t fix, even if you needed some summer tires to get it to stick.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    Did Julie drop the lens or what? Nothing is in focus in some of those shots.

  • avatar
    Feds

    Totally forgot about the camera:

    Julie: “Here Fix This”

    Me: “I just met you, know nothing about cameras, and you’ve just asked me to apply force to an expensive looking DSLR”

    J: “Yes. Fix it”

    Me: *Force…More Force…Scary force… lens pops free*

    J “Thanks”

    Me: *Sweating “no problem…”

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    “If I am willing to do my own head gaskets, I can buy a STi for less money, crank the boost, and humiliate the FR-S both down the freeway and on the racetrack.”

    If a STi would humiliate the FR-S, would the WRX at least embarrass it?

    This is a good question, actually.

    Infuse the FR-S with another 50ish horsies. Problems solved?

    Necessary disclaimer to mitigate the hate: I like the FR-S and am not a fan of stoplight to stoplight racing. No….really.

    I’d really like to see a duo between the FR-S and a 6MT RX-8, though. I realize there is a price difference favoring the BRZ or FT86, but it’s not that significant.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Does a Subaru without a turbo ever burn its number 4 cylinder exhaust valves and require head gaskets? This article seems to be predicated on a willful ignorance of the role of turbos in long term disposability.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        The 2.0s and 2.2s, unlike the 2.5s, appear to be relatively free of head gasket issues AFAIK.

      • 0 avatar
        Advance_92

        Indeed, there were a number of problems with the early 2.5L motors in the WRX, which don’t worry me since I have the last of the 2.0 interceptors.

      • 0 avatar
        AKADriver

        Subaru’s NA engines are a mixed bag.

        The EA pushrod engine – used from the ’60s right up to the early ’90s – was indestructible. This was the engine that cemented Subaru’s crunchy hippie VW for people who live in snow country reputation.

        The EJ started off pretty good with the EJ18 and EJ22 in the early Impreza and Legacy. It wasn’t Toyota durable, but it was at least Nissan good as long as you kept the timing belt changed. The valve covers leaked but no one cared. Then around 1995 came the “Phase I” EJ25. Punching the bore out to 99mm proved to be disastrous to the head gasket sealing. ’95-’99 EJ25s almost always need a new pair of them by 100,000 miles. Look at the resale value of Outbacks compared to stripper 2.2L Legacy Brightons to see this in action. The EJ25 got a heavy revision with all new “Phase II” SOHC heads in 2000, and then some more changes in 2003 that pretty much nailed down the gasket problem. Newer EJ25s are pretty good. But only back to maybe Nissan good.

        Then there’s the FA/FB series. They’re really too new to know about.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    Sorry guys, this review is so predictable that it is laughable. Between loving the Genesis for being big and fast and loving the Miata for being small and slow (but not liking the FR-S for being in between), we see slams to iPhone, Facebook, student debt, drifting, and McMansions. Does the Miata driver use Google+ on his Android phone while paying for his engineering degree by being a race instructor on weekends? I suppose if you didn’t spend half the “review” digging at what “kids these days” like, it would have been rather short.

    Where is the R spec $24,500? Cars.com says it goes for $27,375.

    Sorry guys, you’ve jumped the shark. You go too far out of your way to dislike what is popular when being 1.2 seconds behind on a minute and a half track is a massive failure, ridiculously slow, and DFL. When are you going to tell us the Miata’s lap time? Or is it just so fun and light that you don’t care about lap times? If you were buying a car exclusively for the track, why would you spend $27k on a Genesis or $25k on an FR-S when you can have a gently used NC Miata for $12k, anyway?

    • 0 avatar
      THE_F0nz

      I was kind of impressed that the little FR-S did that well myself. The R-Spec appears to be more of a purpose-built car than the FR-S.

      I think the car has too much grip and about 10-15% too little power. Both very fixable in the next couple years or the next iteration!

      Progression from Genesis to the Genesis R-Spec (not to mention Boxster and Boxster S) is a perfect example. Add a bit more power, some bigger brakes and charge a few thousand for it!

      I would have loved to see the Toyota V6 currently on duty in the Lotus Evora here. That would be something!

      • 0 avatar
        dude500

        I think it’s hilarious that the FR-S, which has been compared and considered a peer to the Cayman by some, is now being given excuses for its performance. R-spec is a more purpose-built car than the FR-S? 1.2 seconds behind is not that bad? My, how the expectations have fallen.

    • 0 avatar

      Quentin, your comments on our video thread were more positive, and then on the FT86 club board you take this tack…the inconsistency is puzzling. At this point, you’ve just seized on a whole bunch of semantics, or invented points in your head that were never discussed to begin with. I see it all the time, when readers (not necessarily the B&B, but other forum posters) obsessively seize on things that the writer never ever said in the first place. Take a step back, and take our opinions for what they’re worth…you’re not the first to disagree, and that’s what makes this site go around.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        If you beat a dead horse long enough, people will eventually take offense. TTAC needs a dissenting voice to break the circle of self-congratulatory agreement. Perhaps enlist someone that has more of a mechanical perspective to contribute or at least be present during car reviews.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        “Perhaps enlist someone that has more of a mechanical perspective to contribute or at least be present during car reviews.”

        Perhaps you can elaborate on that statement. Like, a mechanical engineer? A statistical engineer? A humanoid robot?

        After building a NASA race car from a bare shell, I *hope* I have a bit of a mechanical perspective, if what you mean by that is “awareness of how things work on a car”. I will admit that I hired out the clutch job on my 944 but to be fair, even Porsche mechanics hate doing that one.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        This review was notably more negative than the video review. It probably comes down to me being jaded (election year, afterall)and my personality. I’m an engineer and I like to get to the point*. The fluff about this being a living-in-mom’s-basement, can’t-get-a-”real”-job, fanboi’s car brought zero to the review, IMO. I have a career, I have been independent for 6 years, and I am starting a family. Yet, I like this car. The fluff isn’t value added, especially when I was hoping for some real analysis from someone that can really drive well. The video review seemed to have a better mix of silly (jacket/hoodie) and informational. It seemed more genuine rather than spiting venom.

        *Probably why I really like Alex and Michael’s reviews… they have the same straight forward reviews that cater to my “type”.

      • 0 avatar
        Kinny

        Quentin

        Don’t drop your soap

      • 0 avatar
        BugBehr

        @Quentin: I agree completely. This is why I don’t even read anything on TTAC aside from Michael, Sajeev, and Alex’s work. Derek seems to be exceptionally good at making thin excuses which also serve as self-justification – he should consider becoming a racecar driver. The “fluff”, as termed by Quentin, isn’t very dissimilar to teenage angst. Complain about everything that’s wrong with everyone else, while also justifying your own sky-high level of cool. Basically all I see from Jack and Derek on here are:

        Jack: “Ugh! I hate how Porsche’s gone so commercial! I’m gonna go write more love songs to myself and post them on TTAC!”
        Derek: “Ugh! These cars that everyone else likes actually suck! I’m shaking things up and providing a dissenting opinion, yeah!”

    • 0 avatar
      keet

      Quentin, nice, well put!

      Derek, what he is pointing out is true, every review is like a broken record.

    • 0 avatar
      jleez

      I’m also curious as to what the lap time of the Miata is. Like they say in racing, the bullshit stops when the green flag drops.

      Of course, numbers don’t mean everything, especially when it comes to cars like the Miata. (Even in the MT article that is referenced, Randy Pobst puts the Miata in at 1st on his personal finishing order.) But in everything I’ve seen, from track articles comparing times between the Toyobaru and the Miata, as well as what I’ve seen at several autocrosses, points to the Toyobaru as the faster car. Add in the fact that you don’t need to tote around a tire trailer to carry wheels and tires like I’ve had to in the past with my Miata, and that’s a huge plus for the Toyobaru. The Miata’s purpose as a pure sports car is a double-edged sword in a world where people are increasingly unwilling to dedicate a garage space to what is very impractical toy.

      I do fear that the Toyobaru, along with the Mustang and the Genesis, is eventually going to put the screws on the Miata and drive it out of the market. I don’t think that Mazda is going to be around, truthfully, in about 15 years…

      • 0 avatar
        Grahambo

        Agree with Quentin. Some of us above the age of 25 with real, well paying careers like very much to drive fun cars but would rather take as much of our pay as possible and put it towards towards things – retirement, family, house — other than massive car notes/massive depreciation (given the relative impracticality of sports cars, I think the price ceiling is even more important for responsible pragmatic types who are not independently wealthy). I suspect a lot of people in that category are interested in the BRZ/FR-S, not just parents’ basement dwellers. $25k is a decent — but not insurmountable chunk of change. It is also likely somewhere in the ballpark of the amount of depreciation a Cayman will suffer in 5 years or so.

      • 0 avatar
        BugBehr

        In response to Grahambo:

        My girlfriend’s father is in exactly the same predicament that you speak of. He’s been driving his B5 Audi A4 2.0T for a decade and a half now, and he’s looking to get a small, sporty car under 30k as his next purchase. He and his wife earn at least 250k a year.

        In addition, the stereotyping in this article is unnecessary. What purpose does it serve? It’s not truly intelligent, nor does it contribute anything to the argument other than making the author look like that one kid. You know the one – or, at least I do. That kid in ninth grade who tried to rebel against convention by growing his hair out long, listening to obscure music, and constantly playing the devil’s advocate to the teachers. He thought he was cool, but when he grew up, he came to realize how stupid he was. I used to write like this when I was 13; I was that kid once. In the interest of higher forms of communication, however, I’ve since realized that this type of writing is best saved for my ultra-cool Moleskine notebook.

        One last note – a Miata would run circles around a FR-S? Is this literal, with unbiased numbers, or is it just rhetorical? I believe this is can be considered yellow journalism.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        “In addition, the stereotyping in this article is just sooooooo cool. ”

        Not as cool as bragging about how much cash your A4-driving girlfriend’s poppa stacks, apparently.

        The fact that you’re discussing “literal, unbiased numbers” with reference to laptimes shows that you aren’t nearly as scientific as you think you are. Laptimes are set by people. These people have actual preferences. It shows in their driving. Ross Bentley has demonstrated that simply saying certain words into a driver’s radio can measurably change their laptimes.

        Sorry you got kicked around by some d00d with long hair and an electric guitar, and that it caused you to accidentally deconstruct your own point by stereotyping the people who create stereotypes, or something like that, I’m sorry, I need to wrap this up so I can knock some broad off then wail on my ’79 Explorer through a Private Reserve Mesa Mark V.

      • 0 avatar
        wkiernan

        Jleez: I’ve put 240,000 remarkably cheap miles on Miatas as my only daily driver. I’m talking Corolla-like per-mile costs. The fact is that almost all car trips only carry one or two people. If you have a family, having a two-seater for your one-and-only car is obviously no good, but even for families, if you have are going to own two cars there’s no big reason why one of them should not be a Miata.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        No such thing as a B5 A4 2.0T of course. There was a B5 1.8T.

        Are ricer-bois still hooning these Toyobarus into curbs and telephone poles because they aren’t used to RWD cars?

    • 0 avatar
      etrnlrvr

      I agree with Quentin and Bugbehr. This article was just so full of itself and devoid of any real info. TTAC has little nuggets I like and come back for but man posts like this make me wonder if I should just give up. The premise of this article is just so stupid frankly. It’s like Baruth has run out of coherent relevant things to be snarky about so he just randomly picked some topic to bitch about and shoved it up the ass of a FR-S review with no lube.

      Also the jab at BugBehr about bragging about what his girlfriend’s grandparents make is just silly. The whole premise of this piece (of crap) is that FR-S people live in their parent’s basement and he just gave a perfectly reasonable example of the antithesis of that point and he is some how bragging? Seriously?

      So obnoxious. Not funny, snarky, insightful, stirring the pot, or providing a counter point. Just plain old obnoxious, pretty much like this whole “review”.

  • avatar
    John

    You nailed the Celica. I owned a blue ’84 GTS. I called it “the sheep in wolf’s clothing”, because it looked fast but was slow as molasses in January. It was a pretty silly concept – take a JDM delivery van engine – basically a tractor engine – and put it in a hot looking coupe with four wheel discs, big tires, and fully independent suspension.

    • 0 avatar
      alex_rashev

      It worked great a few years later with 240SX…

      • 0 avatar
        portablenuke

        The 240sx was considered a flop when it was on sale. It’s only recently reached demi-god status because of the RWD vacuum at the low end of the market.

        The SE-R with it’s SR20DE was considered more desirable at the time because of it’s well regarded engine.

      • 0 avatar
        pharmer

        “It worked great a few years later with 240SX…

        “The 240sx was considered a flop when it was on sale. It’s only recently reached demi-god status because of the RWD vacuum at the low end of the market.”

        You just hit on why the FR-S/BRZ arouses such passionate fanboys…Japanese manufacturers have starved a captive market that is looking for a sporty(ish) rear wheel drive car with a low, low price and easy financing.

        When it comes right down to it, the most ardent fans of these cars are incredibly narrow-minded. They want a Japanese car because of the potential for JDM coolness and their perceived refinement and reliability. Buying a Japanese car proves that I’m a smart, responsible consumer after all! Mommy drove nothing but Camrys and those worked out pretty well for her!

        The fast, powerful American cars like Corvettes, 4th-gen F-bodies, or SN97 Mustangs are written off as “redneck sleds” or “old man cars”. So much easier to stereotype and look down your nose at them then actually drive one and have fun, right?

        Jack’s reviews are all about how enjoyable the cars were to drive. They are his opinion. Yes, he’s verbose…and maybe full of himself, but he speaks the truth as he sees it on these three cars. Having both driven and ridden in Miatas of all ages and states of tune at both autocrosses and trackdays, I completely agree with his view on those little cars. They are simply the most driving fun per dollar you find.

    • 0 avatar
      AKADriver

      This was the era when Japan Inc. couldn’t be bothered to federalize worthwhile sporty car engines. Overseas the Celica GT-T as it was called got a 1.8L DOHC turbo making 60 more horsepower.

      It’s hard to remember what a revelation it was when we finally started to get cars like the ’99 Civic Si (only ten years after the SiR was released in Japan!) and the ’02 WRX. Before that the US was a ghetto of low-revving non-turbo Japanese engines.

      It’s worth noting that the FR-S comes here basically identical to the JDM 86 and that 200hp is both double the output of the 22R-E and would have been class-competitive in the Japanese market through the mid ’90s (when the Silvia and Celica GT-Four started pushing towards 250hp).

  • avatar
    wmba

    As I asked in the other thread, David Pratte of Autoguide found the Genesis’ brakes to go away, Brembos be damned, and found the FRS drifted easily. He placed it ahead of the Genesis. You have the opposite reaction.

    What is going on?

    • 0 avatar
      jglucker

      Having driven all three cars in this test, I just want to chime in and say that I totally agree with Pratte regarding the brakes of the Genesis. However, I agree with Jack in regards to the doriftability of the FR-S. That car has near shocking levels of grip.

      • 0 avatar
        mattfarah

        I was impressed with it too, especially given the tires. It will drift, but you have to push it really hard in order to get it to come around.

        However, for an example of what happens when you add even more grip, we met a racing driver in Florida who had a stock 86 on R-Compound tires and lightweight wheels, and had just returned from a SCCA event at VIR, where he came within a second of the Spec Miata record there, in an otherwise bone-stock car. After driving one on stock rubber, I’d bet that guy was seeing 1.2-1.3G through corners on the good stuff.

    • 0 avatar

      If you are unkind to your equipment, things happen.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    Imagine life without the NorthStar. No, wait, that’s no longer imaginary. Okay, imagine life as if the NorthStar never existed. Yes, the early NorthStars had issues. But that was a *long* time ago. But, hey, when you need a snappy line to impress the folks, you gotta do what you gotta do.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I’ve done too much research on the “did GM ever really fix the Northstar bolt threads” question, and there’s far from a reliable/credible answer/consensus, as you imply.

      The best guesses from the most credible people was that if they did, only time would prove so on the 2006+ models, as they simply didn’t have the miles accrued (especially the 2008 and up motors) that the old ones have accrued.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        2006???
        My ‘shortstar’ 2.4L twin cam had the re-spec’d head bolts (thread pitch) on an engine for the 2001MY. Same fix for the Northstar. Did I miss something or was the Northstar’s fix later?

        And judging from mileage and complaints on the twincam, I think it at least mitigated the issue to some degree. Took them long enough…

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        tres, if you frequent cadillac owners forums, there’s nearly a unanimous consensus that it’s an unknown if GM actually ever fixed the issue, at least on the 4.6 liter Northstar.

        In fact, there are GM techs posting about 3rd party stud kits they’re using on relatively new Northstars, such as timesert and such, and there’s a bulletin that’s still up from a Cadillac dealer regarding this issue that comes across as the closest thing to a TSB that one can get without it being a GM sanctioned TSB.

        I don’t know the answer, but I’ve yet to find a single person on those forums that has said they’re remotely confident that the problem has been sorted out, or who has posted specific information about what GM has done from the factory that would prevent the problem even though they’ve made claims that are vague about changes,

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        I put about 50K miles on a NorthStar ’2006 STS (got it with 34K, traded with 88K) without a single issue. Aside from being a little thirsty, I found it to be a perfect engine for a sporting Cadillac, smooth, powerful and quiet until you put your foot into it. I miss it.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “Imagine life without the NorthStar”

      Ah a world where Cadillac could have built a credible product from 1993 onward… one where you could purchase an example new/pre-owned and actually pass it down through the family for 150K-200K without major engine/transmission issues.

      I like the world I’ve imagined.

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        This is probably going to get buried under the preschoolers’ fighting above, but the 2.4L Twin Cam engine was not related to the Northstar. It was, rather, the end of evolution for the ’80s Oldsmobile Quad 4, detuned and smoothed over with counter-rotating balance shafts. It had nothing to do with the original Cadillac 4.6L Northstar V8, the Oldsmobile-massaged 4.0L Aurora V8 (a development of the Northstar), or the engine actually called the “Shortstar” in vernacular, the Oldsmobile-exclusing 3.5L DOHC V6 from the Intrigue and Aurora, which was an Olds-developed 4.0L Aurora V8-based engine.

        Also, all of these have continued to have well-known, well-documented problems pretty far into the 21st century. They partially cured the head bolt problem around 2000 (not entirely, but they’re better), however the century-end redesign failed to fix many of the electrical issues (granted, those are ancilliary to the engine itself), fluid leaking problems (oil, trans), and introduced new problems (absurdly failure-prone camshaft and crankshaft position sensors, new electrical problems).

        Perhaps Cadillac got it right with the ’05+ RWD and supercharged V 4.4L versions, but by then the name was well and truly ruined. And those last few years comprise about 5% of actual production over the drivetrain’s market lifespan.

        GM itself did a frighteningly efficient and reliable job of ruining the Northstar’s name.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    WARNING: Don’t knock Diana Krall – she’s great!

    Contemporary interpretations of the Great American Songbook and jazz standards are better than anything else out there.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    Unless you also have a group of imaginary mechanics that work for free, then you DO NOT want any sort of Celica All-Trac. You’d have better luck pulling a 20 year old Mercedes out of a salt bath and keeping it running than you would an All-Trac. You seriously cannot comprehend just what a nightmare these cars are to keep running or find parts for.

    The 3S-GTE engine you mentioned made more than 200 HP in its stock form in most variants, with the aid of some turbo induction, which the FR-S obviously does not have. Toyota, with its ingenious cheating methods found ways to eek a bit more scoot out of it, which also got them kicked out of the WRC for a few years. If you’ve got a lot of time and money, you can get a 3S-GTE to make well over 500 HP. Just forget about all those Toyota reliability claims you’ve been mentioning. Oh wait, we’re talking about the All-Trac, there’s no such thing in the first place.

    So anyway, you still have the same size Subaru engine producing less, or about the same amount of HP as the 3S-GTE, (again, depending on the variant, some had as low as 160 HP) but without forced induction. You won’t be seeing the 3S-GTE coming out of mothball status any time soon, at least in the US as it won’t meet any kind of new emissions standards. Sorry. Your fantasy car you are describing is less and less attainable all the time.

    Also, you’re getting your blown Subaru headgaskets mixed up. They go bad on the normally aspirated EJ series, but not the turbo version. Go figure right?

    The car you really want is a WRX or an STI, which really has nothing to do with the FR-S whatsoever. You are determined to make the FR-S something it was never meant to be, which I guess is why you don’t like it?

    Either way, your reasoning is a bit scattered and filled with all sorts of silly deflections, which are entertaining and fun to read, but still don’t really mean a whole lot, except that in this instance, the HP metric wins.

    Spending so much time focusing all your fury on a third place loser car seems rather disingenuous. Why aren’t you writing gushing reviews of the clearly best car here, the Hyundai Genesis?

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      After reading all that I can guess that the Celica All-trac problems are, part-availability-wise: rear struts, rear wheel bearings and transfer case. Then we’re off to tail shaft carrier bearings, gearbox parts, turbo, exhaust manifold and possibly engine bearings. Then I guess the alternator is a PITA to remove and in the Toyota’s case, I guess that servicing injectors/plugs would require the removal of the top mount intercooler.

      Having had an even more stranger brand/model AWD/turbo car in a country where it was never officially sold, I can honestly say, big deal, meh. Too much whinging over nothing.

      And I still like both the Toyota and my previous ride. However… I wouldn’t roll the AWD dice unless I had enough coin (and a DD) for its pains.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    “It’s a bunch of sound and fury signifying that you’re about get passed by a Hyundai which costs less.”

    Heh heh heh heh….

    Could be worse. I just read somewhere that both the VW GTi and the Beemer 5 series AMG have electronic noise synthesizers that artificially enhance the engine noise put out by the car….sad. Pitiful. Pointless. Think “Vrrooom” motor on your Schwinn Apple Krate bike from the ’60′s…

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      We used to put baseball cards in our spokes.

      But never my Darryl Strawberry!!!

    • 0 avatar
      Battlehawk

      That was the BMW. The GTI has a tube from the engine bay to let more sound in, as do the newer Mustangs.

      • 0 avatar
        AKADriver

        They quietly swapped the GTI’s tube for a synthesizer in 2011.

        The 2013+ Genesis coupe has a synthesizer too…

      • 0 avatar
        GiddyHitch

        BMW tried the tube thing but didn’t like the results. They also tried mic’ing the engine but found it too difficult to isolate the engine noise from all of the other mechanical clatter in the bay. Ultimately they settled for a properly isolated and equalized recording of the engine. I havent sampled it myself to see if it comes off as artificial.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        GiddyHitch: “BMW tried the tube thing but didn’t like the results. They also tried mic’ing the engine but found it too difficult to isolate the engine noise from all of the other mechanical clatter in the bay. Ultimately they settled for a properly isolated and equalized recording of the engine. I havent sampled it myself to see if it comes off as artificial.”

        I am really wondering if I’ve gone mad or the BMW buying consumers have if this is true (and I don’t doubt that it’s likely).

        I can understand a recording or simulcast of a oversampled motor sound track in an electric vehicle, but when a conventional motor-powered vehicle resorts to this strategy, let alone a BMW, hasn’t it already been robbed of its soul?

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        @DeadWeight – true.

        BMW M5 generates fake engine noise using stereo:
        http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-20111031-48/bmw-m5-generates-fake-engine-noise-using-stereo/

        But readers should know that BMW resorted to this because the M5′s cabin is so well insulated, it doesn’t let in enough engine noise!

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      AMG is tuning BMWs now? Someone had better tell Mercedes-Benz…

  • avatar
    Thill

    Does anyone know why they went with a Subaru engine vs using something like a 4cyl Camry engine and turbocharging it?

    Was it strictly because they wanted a boxer style engine?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Isn’t the car fundamentally a Subaru? As in Subaru did the majority of the design work on it? What’s Toyota about it at all, other than the money that paid for it?

      Ultimately, I don’t care whose penis is bigger on the track. No car of mine that has to get me home after is ever going on a racetrack (though I did break that rule once). Is it nice on the street? Seems to be. Fun to drive, decent looking, cheap enough. They will sell plenty of them.

      I wouldn’t buy any of these cars, my Spitfire is more fun and much cheaper than a Miata, and I fit in it. I’d take a nice Porsche 944 over the Toyobaru just because, and if I wanted a Camaro, I’d buy a Camaro not a Korean knock-off of a Camaro. :-)

      • 0 avatar
        Thill

        Well Toyota pushed for the development of the car and most likely put up most of the money. I believe Subaru jointly developed the engine and chasis, but Toyota designers had some say here as the engine uses Toyota direct injection technology.

    • 0 avatar
      mattfarah

      boxer = lower center of gravity. Seems like a good idea in theory (and if you look in the engine bay you’d be amazed at just how low that thing sits), but you have to basically do a re-build to do forced induction with it. From the factory it’s a 12.5:1 compression ratio (requiring 91 octane), and in order to add boost and keep the thing in one piece, you’d have to lower the compression significantly.

    • 0 avatar
      AKADriver

      The marketing copy talks all about the low center of gravity and so on. It’s not wrong, but the boxer also adds compromises to other things.

      The real reason? EU pedestrian impact regulations. This car with an inline four would have a 4″ higher beltline, it’d be a bathtub like the 370Z. There’s about 4-6″ of empty space above the intake plenum. At least one tuner has already put a supercharger there.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    You can’t make everybody happy. Tell the truth as you see it, and just be thick-skinned to deflect the hate.

  • avatar
    Charlie84

    Considering it’s weight penalty, Brembo brakes and 19″ wheels, wouldn’t the Genesis cost significantly more to track than either the FRZ or the Miata?

    • 0 avatar
      grzydj

      TTAC doesn’t post any kind of number on track day, or review day for some reason.

      Would MSRP on each vehicle as they are speced be too much to ask?

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        It might be. We have an international audience. The test was done in Canada. Destination charges are different for different parts of the United States.

      • 0 avatar
        grzydj

        Since you don’t have access to the internet or something, I did the price comparison for you. Prices were taken from the US Hyundai and Scion websites.

        MSRP in the US for the Genesis 2.0T R-Spec is $26,500 and destination is $875 for a grand total of $27,375.

        MSRP on the loser Scion $24,200 and destination is $755 for a grand total of $24,955 US.

        I guess that’s why the numbers weren’t published, since they don’t really compete with each other on price in the way you claim.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        I have a better idea. Why don’t you use the Internet a little more to find out the invoice price of the Hyundai, because that’s what you’ll pay, then call your local Scion dealer to find what the FR-S that isn’t currently sitting on the showroom floor will cost you when it gets here.

        No, wait, I will do it for you. Invoice on the R-Spec is $26,049. There’s $900 worth of incentives available for college graduates with a competitive trade.

        That makes the net out $25,149. Can you take delivery of a Scion FR-S today for $25,149? Will you have a choice of color?

        The best case you’ve capable of making with your post is that the cars are priced similarly, which is the core assumption around which we’ve based the test.

        I think, if you’re in the mood to criticize me, you’d be better off going back to the “imaginary girlfriend” shtick. It plays a little better for the TTAC peanut gallery. At this point, you’re coming off as a straw man I’ve created for the purposes of making me look more competent.

      • 0 avatar
        grzydj

        MSRP is used by all the buff books to make valid comparisons between vehicles in a segment, so I don’t see why you’d have to go out of your way to find a recent college student incentive to make your price point comparison valid. What kind of trade in are you talking about? Does that apply to both vehicles in question? A competitive trade doesn’t apply towards the FR-S? Why not?

        MSRP between the two is at least $2,400 and that is a verifiable fact. Facts which have been solely lacking in this comparison thus far.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        The “buff books” use MSRP because none of their senior editors have purchased a new car in decades. The real world is all about transaction price and availability.

        If you don’t understand the concept of “actual transaction price”, you must find ShopNBC to be utterly captivating. They have fantastic deals on Invicta watches with MSRPs of, like, a zillion dollars!

        If you can prove you’ve paid MSRP for every vehicle you’ve owned, you get to keep complaining about this on TTAC. Otherwise, try a different tack.

      • 0 avatar
        grzydj

        Funny you should mention that. I did go to my local Scion dealer and sat in an FR-S, but the dealer wouldn’t let me drive it because it was sold and all the models they had coming in were sold already too. The price on the window is what they are going for around here.

        My local Subaru dealer has a BRZ in stock, but I don’t know if there is any cash on the hood to move it, or if it has been sold or not already.

        Neither twin was intended to be high volume sellers, so maybe you are onto something with MSRP on the Hyundai, but to that, Hyundai has always used low dollar invoice to move tin, which also reflects on their lower resale value. That is something to consider as well.

      • 0 avatar
        nrcote

        grzydj > Would MSRP on each vehicle as they are speced be too much to ask?

        It depends on your location. For instance, in Canada, MSRPs, including freight and PDI, are:
        1) 2012 MX-5 with PHRT: $37,735 (GS) or $41,940 (GT)
        2) 2013 Genesis 2.0T R-Spec: $30,364
        3) 2013 Scion FR-S: $27,585

        The MX-5 is expensive around here. The FR-S may very well be the less expensive in your area, if you can find one. So, if the lowest price is what’s best for you, go and get one, and tell us about it. Me? I bought a V6 Mustang last year. Flame me, but do it nicely.

      • 0 avatar
        Thill

        As Jack stated nobody in their right mind pays MSRP for a Hyundai. If you do your research you can get Hyundai Circle pricing by joining the Hyundai Think Tank. You call local dealers and take the Cirle printout to the dealer and you essentially pay dealer cost before any additional rebates. Hyundai matches $500 for Motocash and was offering $1K grad rebate and $500 competitor rebate.

        In the US that puts you at roughly $26,403 including destination and if you qualified for incentives you could get the Gencoupe for potenitally $24403 including destination.

        Using Hyundai Circle pricing you are looking at a shade over $28K (including destination) before incentives for the 3.8 V6 engine..

        I paid $23,200 including destination for my 2013 2.0T manual and that does not even factor in the Hyundai dealer offering me $500 more for my trade-in than the next closest competitor.

      • 0 avatar
        grzydj

        @nrcote

        I’m only going to make fun of you for not getting a V8 Mustang. Thanks for posting the prices though. It does put things into perspective a bit differently.

  • avatar
    JCraig

    I can see the order since this was track driving but to me the clear winner for daily driving is the Genesis. Bigger, more comfortable, nicer, quieter, smoother and much faster. For the same price…

    I’ve always entertained the idea of owning a Miata as I’ve never had more fun driving before or since, but can’t justify it as a daily driver or owning another car.

    For something that is comfortable enough to commute in everyday and give you the fun and occasional thrill the Gen seems to clearly win here.

    • 0 avatar
      Nicholas Weaver

      As someone with an S2000 as a daily driver: a small convertible works just fine as long as your GF has a bigger car when you really want to haul stuff.

      So don’t be afraid of getting a Miata as a daily driver, its actually a brilliant choice.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        That rarely works for people with more than one kid. Most parents need the flexibility of being able to use either car in a pinch to toss the kids in back. We had about a year with a 2-seater as a second car before our oldest started driving, and it was a hassle. There was always some time where it would have been easy for me to just swing by and pick them up before going home, and I couldnt.
        .. I had to go home first and swap cars.

        CAN it work?? Sure, but most people don’t want the hassle. Even as a 3rd car, its still limiting when you can use it.

  • avatar
    dude500

    I think it’s hilarious that the FR-S, which has been compared and considered a peer to the Cayman by some, is now being given excuses for its performance. R-spec is a more purpose-built car than the FR-S? 1.2 seconds behind is not that bad? My, how the expectations have fallen.

    • 0 avatar
      daiheadjai

      1.2s bought with 74hp.

      Seems like it should’ve done better.
      And believe me, I like the GenCoupe – well, not to look at, but you catch my drift (pun intended)

  • avatar
    THE_F0nz

    Off Topic:

    Just out of curiosity from a member or the so-called generation-Y:

    What did your parent’s say about your generation growing up?

    I went to school, developed a passion for cars and wrenching, went college, graduated, got job(s) and am doing really well as a mid-level engineer at a successful and meaningful company who saves lives around the world every day.

    Despite this, I’ve been told about twice a week that I am part of the worst generation in history and I don’t like cars, appreciate family values or have the ability to fathom what it means to actually work hard.

    We didn’t raise and mentor the so-called worst generation in history. But maybe that is too bold of a statement for a spoiled brat like me to make.

    In my observation, the generation before me was so busy convincing men to be ashamed of themselves that they forgot to love their kids enough to say no when they cried for toys/freedoms/drugs/alcohol.

    Living in your parents house after 23 is a normal occurrence around the world when you aren’t married off. There are plenty of studies out there that support that the extended-family household provides additional role models for children to develop. You get to see bad habits and compare them to other mature relatives!

    There are lazy and un-motivated people out there, but please don’t contribute to one more thing this generation “should” be ashamed of.

    On-Topic:

    Thank you for this series of tests. People really like honest head-to-head comparisons of vehicle dynamics of more affordable cars.

    Could you please take a bit more time to compare livability information when possible? I know it isn’t your style Jack, but I’m in the market for a sporty car that I can live with on a day-to-day basis and have fun on the weekends! It sounds like the R-Spec would be the choice for me in this comparo.

    A great livability requirement for a coupe that I always wonder: Does the back seat fold? Visibility? Maybe comments in the follow up articles would be sufficient.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Alex Dykes covers the livability aspects of the cars so well I don’t want to tread on his toes. I think Derek can attest to the fact that I have come away from trackdays not knowing what exterior color the car I was driving was… I’m pretty focused on the weird little stuff during these tests.

      I’m forty years old, so I’m neither Generation Y nor quite the correct age to be the parent of a Gen-Yer. I didn’t return home after school and neither did any of my friends. Everybody went out and either worked in their field, if they had one, or suffered through some entry-level McJob until they found their feet.

      At one point in my twenties I was doing construction-site cleanup during the day and working at a call center at night just so I didn’t have to live with my parents. My Franklin Planner records from those years have a lot of very specific notations as to spending:

      “Breakfast : none
      Lunch: $2.31
      Dinner: $7.99 (split with wife)
      Gasoline: $12.54″

      It didn’t occur to me that I was entitled to anything, nor did it particularly bother me that my lifestyle was poverty-level. I figured that if I kept working things would get better. The real tragedy of the current economy is that such a line of thought no longer applies for a lot of people.

    • 0 avatar
      Brendan McAleer

      There’ll be a livability Take Two from me on the FR-S to follow. I had it for a week.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Off-Topic: I’m 27, get used to it. Continue to be one of the good ones, but understand there are plenty of twenty somethings out there that are unbelievably entitled. If you work hard and do your job, who cares if people label your generation as the worst ever. You certainly didn’t create it.

      On-Topic: These track day reviews focus on the track. Michael, Alex, Jack, and Derek all have more traditional reviews of these vehicles on this site.

    • 0 avatar
      buzzliteyear

      Mr. Baruth isn’t the first person to substitute “Damn kids these days” curmudgeonery and personal anecdote for macroeconomic reality, nor will he be the last.

      I guess that sort of thing sells in the media.

      • 0 avatar
        THE_F0nz

        Based on your name Buzz, we grew up around the same time. Haha.

        Bball: During my semi-over-sensitive rant, My real question seemed to get lost. I just often wonder if it is a right of passage for a generation to be heckled despite their strengths. (The argument on what strengths are present is one I’ve never heard due to the “disappointed Dad” treatment that seems so prevalent in almost every social commentary.)

        Mr. Baruth: I agree with your point on keeping track characteristics the focus on your reviews. Just a bit of impatience on my part! I’m in the market for a car in this price range, so I’m just trying to do as much homework as possible.

      • 0 avatar
        Domestic Hearse

        Jeremy Clarkson has created a fortune for himself and worldwide readership by beginning his Top Gear show reviews or his newspaper articles by insulting a group of people (or person) using stereotype and exaggerated characterization.

        Then he turns to the car in question and launches into a comparison-contrast why the reviewed car is exactly like (or unlike) the people or person he roasted in the first half of his piece.

        Some people howl in protest. How could Clarkson be so insensitive, stupid, misinformed?

        Yet the majority of readers just laugh. It’s his schtick. Don’t take offense. It’s all an inside joke, of sorts.

        I’ll bet many of the people on this site that are suddenly butthurt by Baruth’s review above are Clarkson fans, which would be an interesting and twisted bit of irony.

        So, yes, this sort of thing sells in the media. Quite well, in fact. Most people, when their shorts are not bound up in indignation, actually enjoy it.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      F0nz:

      +1, even though I love Baruth’s writing. And I’m a Boomer who’s older than he is.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Expressing concern for the reliability of the FR-S’s Subaru Boxer engine brings up an interesting question: How’s the long-term reliability of the Hyundai’s turbo four? It hasn’t been around that long…

    • 0 avatar
      Thill

      It does have a standard 100K mile warranty here in the US at least :)

      • 0 avatar
        philadlj

        True…

      • 0 avatar
        Nicholas Weaver

        And the way to look at it, the 100K mile warranty is a break-the-company bet. If just 10% of the cars need something significant on the engine or transmission within that 100K window, there goes ALL the car company’s profit. And thus it really really focuses on the necessary engineering for longevity.

        If your car has a 36K mile waranty, its OK if the transmission grenades itself at 70K. But with a 100K warranty, you have to built it to last, which means with a similar “percentage margin to fail after warranty expires”, things can’t grenade themselves until 200K miles….

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Also, were you using 91 or 87 octane gas in the Genesis? With 91 it’s got 274 hp/275 lb-ft, but use reg unleaded and it drops to 260/260.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    All this talk (and hate) over this car is crazy. Is it better than brand x? Who cares?!? I for one am completely thrilled that they made this car. I don’t care that the Miata is more sublime. I don’t care that the Mustang V6 is faster, I don’t care that the Hyundai is both. This is a great car, it’s a great package, and it’s a fairly reasonable price for most people to consider buying one. It is one more good RWD option that we now have, it isn’t some bloated overpriced luxury FWD car for status seekers. It’s a pure honest sports car. What is not to like? On the street I am never going to care about the difference in performance over those other cars, I might just like driving it, owning it, and paying for it.

  • avatar
    L'avventura

    This really is the Jalopnikfication of this site; deliberately trying to get a rise out the readership. There was not nearly as much hate or vitriol spilled in the video portion of this article.

    As far as the engine choice. Its clear why Toyta/Subaru decided to use the 2.0 as a base engine versus strapping a turbo on it. The reason is because they wanted to make it into a world car suitable for global sales. The world isn’t America after all.

    The Mustang, Genesis, Camaro, aren’t sold in most markets because they don’t fit into regional markets due to emission and carbon tax standards. In Europe, for instance, even the Hyundai Genesis isn’t sold in most markets, in the few that are, like Germany, it only comes with the V6, as the 2.0T doesn’t make much economic sense as they both would be thrown into high tax bands negating the cost difference. The Genesis gets a CO2-Effizienz of “G” (the worst”. In much the same in the rest of Europe.

    In the UK, the Genesis and Mustang aren’t sold, but the Camaro is, for £35K, or £40K for the convertible (which is $55-65K). It falls into the M tax bracket, meaning £1,030 ($1,611) for the first year, and £475 ($743) every 12-months after that. Priced closer to Porsche Boxster (£37K in UK) than what can be considered affordable.

    Japan is no better as they have tax on displacement AND weight. You get charged 2500yen ($32) per 500kgs. 2.0T automatically prices the car closer to Evos and WRX STis (the plain old WRX isn’t even sold in Japan due to the above reasons).

    Which is why Ford is considering a four-pot for its next ‘world car’ Mustang. FR-S/BRZ is exactly spec’ed like it needs to be (its called a larger MX5 for a reason). Which brings us to the MX-5, its two seats, has little storage space, light-weight, and is a classic, but it sells horribly. If it wasn’t Mazda that car would have been scrapped a long time ago for not being commercially feasible.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I hope this post, in combination with a few of the posts above it, shows the situation we are in when we do reviews.

      There’s a guy going crazy because the window stickers in his neighborhood show a LIKE TWO THOUSAND OMGWTFBBQ DIFFERENCE between the FR-S and the Genesis.

      Then we have a guy who points out that in Germany, the 2.0T is taxed like a Mercedes 600 Pullman, and in Japan you can’t even buy the thing.

      On the FR-S forums, they are burning me in effigy for not adding “-san” to the end of everybody’s name. On the Miata forums, they are upset that we tested the PRHT and not the ’05 Mazdaspeed Miata. On the Genesis forums, there’s a guy who has an infected tribal tattoo on his lower back and he’s really angry about something, possibly the latest Slipknot record.

      Other people are angry that this test, which personally cost me over a thousand dollars in travel and accommodations and features contributions from two TTAC readers who took off work and spent their own money to come out, isn’t as comprehensive as the Road & Track test where all the cars were delivered to the track by manufacturer-funded transporters and the track costs were covered by advertisers.

      All I can say is that we will continue to do the best we can with the resources and information we have, and we’re grateful to the B&B for sticking with us as we try to compete with a group of frankly corrupt competitors with fifty times our budget.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        This is the damned if you do, or damned if you don’t paradox.

        You can either try to write something with some color, which necessarily has to come with bias (bias isn’t necessarily a bad thing, for those of you out there in PC land), as humans all inevitably have brains hard-wired to perceive things differently on a subconscious level, and try to at least write a review that is entertaining to those (dwindling, apparently) who are interested in things automotive,

        -or-

        You can use precise testing equipment to measure every conceivable data point, from 0-60 times, trap speeds, interior noise levels, to maximum g-force, drag coefficient, number of insects killed by the windshield, to carbon dioxide output at idle and WOT, and then publish a black and white chart of the data.

        There’s no in between if one hopes to offend no one and not be misconstrued, misinterpreted and literally misquoted.

        So it looks like the way to go is to take Car&Driver/MotorTrend’s tale of tape boxes, and just expand them by about 20x, with many, boring, utterly useless data point entries, and just publish that, sans any subjective opinion, thought or commentary.

        FTW

      • 0 avatar
        mattfarah

        Thank you, Jack, for summarizing my entire life in one post. Keep it gangsta.

      • 0 avatar
        L'avventura

        First off, I don’t think my comment came out like “OMGWTFBBQ”.

        As TTAC is largely focused on the business side of the industry, I also also gave you the reason why the 2.0 engine was decided on versus not having a turbo standard. This is in direct response to the question you posed in the video.

        I had no commentary or judgement if that was the right choice or not, but merely why it is. So that it can be sold in as many markets as possible, which is the only way they can get economies of scale in a modern niche sports car.

        Also, I think the criticism towards this “Jalopnikfication” is certainly apt…

        After all we have fully grown gentleman in a rhinestone gold jacket writing an article about “FR-S is THIRD PLACE”. Its obviously designed to get a rise of the certain part of the readership.

        This article, when distilled is basically “not like JDM of the past”, “not enough Powkaa!, only 151ft/lb Torx!”, for “$25k you can buy a V6 Mustang instead”. It comes across more boy racer forum like than my commentary certainly has.

        Even your Colin Jevens puts this car in second (not OMGThird), and really, I’ve always expected the MX-5 to be better around the track, given its heritage, given its two-seats, and low-weight.

        And I genuinely like TTAC, but given how often this site criticizes Jalopnik, I think you should look long and hard on criticism such as mine that your article is better suited for the cheap knee-jerk of TCL/Jalopnik than this site.

      • 0 avatar
        Domestic Hearse

        Days like this make me miss Farrago and the ban hammer.

        I sense a certain, um, slippage in tone, content, and understanding amongst the B&B. Which, as a term of endearment and description, may be exaggeration today in this comment section for some.

        Perhaps it’s due to the increasingly acrimonious political environment we find ourselves in, where humor, irony, sarcasm, subtlety, eloquence, and well, fact-and-reality-based discussion, has been drowned out by people earnestly and angrily SHOUTING AT EACH OTHER.

        So all I can offer is the irrefutable advice of Tom Robbins, “People of zee wurl, relax.”

        Or, take two Xanax, wash ‘em down with a six-pack and come back tomorrow. It’s a review people. It’s entertaining, it’s humorous (with some great one-liners), it’s one man’s opinion. Lighten up, Francis.

      • 0 avatar
        L'avventura

        @Domestic

        I think that the tone of the comment section is dictated by the tone of the article. When the article is designed to be controversial and start conversation such as this, the responses will reflect that.

        For what its worth, I think the comments section here is more constructive and civil than other automotive blogs and forums. At least here its devoid of half-witted jokes, memes, and witticisms.

        But the site ultimately calls the readership. Obviously, Bertel’s buisness news gets very little comments, and Baruth’s controversial fanboy-instigating articles get a lot more reaction.

      • 0 avatar
        stryker1

        “On the Genesis forums, there’s a guy who has an infected tribal tattoo on his lower back and he’s really angry about something, possibly the latest Slipknot record.”

        HEY… That record really sucked.

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Jaeger

        Keep doing what you’re doing, Jack. Don’t let the ankle-biters get you down.

        But perhaps we’re seeing another reason why most car reviews are unabashedly gushing. There’s certainly less blowback from the fanbois that way.

        But then they’re also boring, predictable and uninformative, unlike yours.

      • 0 avatar
        laphoneuser

        Hey Jack, I just wanted to say thank you for all your hard work. I really enjoyed the video, and I enjoyed reading this review. I look forward to all your future work. I find your writing to be very entertaining, and at the same time, informative. Most importantly, I find it to be honest, which I applaud and admire.

        I don’t really get people’s strong reactions to it, but you and I are about the same age, so maybe there’s a generational “thing” going on.

        Keep up the good work.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        Jack, I thoroughly enjoy what you and everyone else at TTAC does. As for the nit-picking haters, **** ‘em.

      • 0 avatar
        wkiernan

        I liked the way you used a PRHT Miata, the plushest, pimpingest Miata ever made, for your track day test, instead of some stripped-down no-carpets no-spare-tire no-AC “club sport” model that’s unlike anything any ordinary buyer would own. The PRHT has an additional 85 pounds and $1800 for its mechanized top, a 3% weight penalty and 7% cost penalty right there, yet it still delivered very satisfactory sports car thrills for the dollar. Rather than saying “Hey readers, look at the best results theoretically available, though in real life you probably can’t afford them,” you’re saying “Your experience will be at least this good if not better.” My only question is, those were all street tires, weren’t they?

        EDIT: Oops, never mind, I see in a comment in another article that there were stock tires on all three cars. Again, “your experience will be as good (until your first set of new tires) or better (afterwards).”

    • 0 avatar
      Thill

      Since when are turbo charged cars not global? You lost me there. I have been to Europe many times and there are plenty of turbo cars there. Hyundai does not produce enough Genesis Coupes to really sell them in many more markets. Hyundai is at capacity at plants both here and abroad and there is a production freeze on the Gencoupe right now (Genesis platform is only being produced in their Korea plants) that has resulted in very tight inventories here and abroad.

      • 0 avatar
        L'avventura

        In most markets (Europe, and this car’s domestic Japan) a car is taxed based on things like C02 emissions, weight, etc-detailed above.

        Putting a turbo on the base model, raising power and weight, puts this car into a different price bracket in those markets (taxes are a very large part of car ownership in much of the world). For sports cars, which achieve relatively low volume, to make it affordable in many markets means it needs to achieve a certain C02 emission regulatory milestones as well as displacement/weight targets.

        By being in more markets it diversifies the risk of eventual sales drops (sports cars sell great at the start but eventually fade in sales).

        I’ve commented here before, but I never thought that the FR-S is well suited for the American market where such regulatory hurdles don’t exist and consumers demand more power.

        This doesn’t preclude the FR-S/GT86/BRZ from eventually getting a turbo on its higher powered versions. I’m sure a year or so down the line, when sales start to drop, a turbo will be added. But the base “affordable” version needs to be something that can fit in with global automotive regulations.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      L’avventura – I think Jack’s comment “LIKE TWO THOUSAND OMGWTFBBQ DIFFERENCE between the FR-S and the Genesis” referred to a comment grzydj made.

      Thanks Jack for spending your own money on getting this review. I appreciate it.

      It has been an education to watch the comments, I am not in the market for a car like this due to family circumstances. But it is fascinating to watch some people really get upset and complain about a middling car review. Who are amongst the first to complain about anyone who pushes back against some of the torrent of anti-GM stories we get on TTAC (over half of Bertel’s recent articles). Mostly warranted since GM is more badly managed than most auto companies but as someone said above “If you beat a dead horse long enough, people will eventually take offense.”

      • 0 avatar
        L'avventura

        Honestly, I haven’t been the greatest fan of the FR-S, I’ve commented previously on Bertel’s articles about my scepticism towards the commercial viability of the car for the the American market, but its very clear to me what this article is designed to do. Its fanboy troll-bait, designed to instigate a response.

        Jack Baruth is getting exactly what he wants. Clicks, controversy, and comments. Lots of them. Jalopnik-style.

        The comical gold-jacket and tight pants in the video are there deliberately to garner attention, not because Jack’s lacks the understanding of wider social aestheticism.

        So let’s not BS ourselves about this. Jack acts the victim, but its clear that he really wants responses that are heated, and the attention that comes with it (which he has successfully achieved here).

        I genuinely like TTAC. I’ve always shown support in their feud with Jalopnik, so it saddens me to see them practising this lowest common denominator Nick Denton-esque approach to blogging. Because really, people are smart enough to see through this, and I think Jalopnik’s current reputation reflects this.

  • avatar
    phlipski

    When is Jack Baruth going to write his autobiography? I want to learn where his delicious combination of cynicism and wit came from.

  • avatar
    vagvoba

    I seems to me that Jack is looking for his ideal Toyota sports car in the wrong place.

    As I understand the FR-S is not a Toyota with a Subaru engine it it, but basically a rebadged Subaru.
    There is probably not a single Toyota or Scion logo on any of the parts in the car, other than the branding outside and on the dashboard (and one on top of the engine, to advertise the Toyota injector).
    Toyota didn’t do much else than styled the body, put in a different stereo and gave a D-4S license to Subaru to build a direct injector for the boxer-4. Other than these little details, all the engineering was done by Subaru. The chassis (incl. powertrain, suspension), the interior and even most of the body was engineered by Subaru, and of course Subaru also manufactures the car. Just remember the early prototypes that had modified Impreza bodies. I can imagine when Toyota saw the holy ugliness of these prototypes they decided that they would need to take over the styling part.
    For sure, since Toyota has a 15-something percentage ownership in Subaru, the whole project had to be done with the approval and under the supervision of Toyota.

    (Edit: Of course I know that Subaru is just a brand and the company’s name is Fuji Heavy. Substitute where needed.)

    • 0 avatar
      daiheadjai

      FWIW, when the project started, Subaru didn’t think it would fly (they had no interest).
      It wasn’t until a mule was made up and driven that they decided Toyota was onto something.

      So no, Toyota didn’t just contribute money.
      They contributed the idea too (unless you think Subaru would make a RWD NA sports coupe of their own volition)

      • 0 avatar
        arbnpx

        Yes, the story goes that Akio Toyoda wanted to build a sports car, and after Toyota bought GM’s stake in Fuji Heavy, they asked them, “Hey, can we build a RWD sports car with a naturally aspirated boxer engine?” Subaru basically said, “NO; we do all-wheel-drive! We do turbo! Go away!”. Later, Toyota approached them again, and Subaru said, “Okay, here’s a crate engine; go build your test mule, but we’re not going to like it.” But Subaru’s test drivers loved it, as did Toyota’s.

        If you ask Subaru, they’ll say that the only Toyota influence was D4-S. But even Subaru fanatics note that the body styling is much more graceful than Subaru’s chunky efforts with the new Impreza and Legacy. The manual transmission, codenamed “TL70″ (this is on the passenger door build sticker), is based off of an Aisin AZ6; Toyota’s marketing brochure on the 86 build story says that this is a variant of the Toyota Altezza 6-speed transmission, with approximately 80% new internals. The Aisin AZ6 has been the base of the transmissions in the S2000, S15 Silvia, NB Miata, and SXE10 Altezza.

    • 0 avatar
      spw

      Transmission, Steering, Driveshaft, D4S, Torsen, all are Toyota products… so quite few important bits :-).

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Wow, the Toyota fans are UPSET.

    crunch crunch crunch

    good popcorn

    crunch crunch crunch

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      And all of this could have be avoid if they had just offered a turbo version, as clearly the FR-S is about 40 HP short as is. If this was GM would be ripping them for building another “almost” car. I understand what Toyota was thinking here but clearly they didn’t give that extra 5% effort thus they’ve got a car that’s 95% there. I personally grew tired of waiting for the FR-S to arrive after being hyped for what seemed like forever. I looked at the Gen Coupe but then realized if I went the used route I could get a 350Z for half the price.

      • 0 avatar
        Thill

        Subaru has already come out and said they will address the folks who want more power. I doubt it will be a turbo, but it could be a supercharger.

        I fully expect a more powerful version of this car within 2 years. The car is selling well right now, but once sales start to stabilize or drop they will offer a more powerful version.

        What will be funny will be the response all the fanboys who scream that the car is perfect and that people do not understand the purpose of the car who will be wanting one :)

        I always want more power. Power is fun. Not everything, but we are talking about sports cars here, who does not want more torque or horsepower.

        The other problem that this article mentions is the price. The 200hp version should have been priced around $20-25K with an STI version priced in the $25-30K region.

      • 0 avatar
        daiheadjai

        Wouldn’t that negate the goal of producing an affordable sports car for the masses?
        I would wager that most people with STis probably shouldn’t drive anything with more than 150hp… Not everyone knows how to control a 200hp+ missile in anything but a straightline.

        I think the FR-S will do just fine – if the chief engineer is to be believed, the car was intended to be sold “incomplete” – with completion being found in the aftermarket by the user.
        They intended only to provide the platform from which to start.

  • avatar
    vagvoba

    I also find it weird that after reading the article most people feel that Jack just hates the car (in spite of actually saying that he loves it). I can’t help but have the same feeling. Since it is clear that Jack actually likes the car more than probably 95% of all other cars, I would edit it so that it’s clear for everyone that Jack thinks it’s a great car but not quite as good on the track as the Genesis Coupe or the Miata.

    • 0 avatar
      AKADriver

      You get outta here with your reasonable, non-fanatical comment.

      I’m the biggest FR-S fan ever, and I’d absolutely take the Genesis on the track if someone else is buying the tires and brakes, or the Miata if I didn’t already have a better, older Miata.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    So the FT-86 Hachi-Roku Dureefto-san, “I have an imaginary Asian girlfriend,” anime-watching forum thinks Jack is still bitter over not getting his first 86.

    Read most articles out there, the car is the second coming of Christ. It outperforms Lotus, Porsche, Nissan, Hyuindai, Mustang, and the Miata.

    If you don’t understand why a car that offers limp acceleration and neutral handling, at best, is a great driver’s car, then maybe you are an idiot who doesn’t understand the joy of beating the dead horse that is an underpowered 4 banger, right?

    Now I’ve been particularly bitter about this car because I almost bought one, too, before I test drove it. I’m glad I didn’t, because when I got do drive one, it doesn’t handle as well as a Miata and isn’t fast. I get more fun out of my wife’s WRX, which costs pretty much the same as the imaginary MSRP for the 6-speed Scion.

    This car is average and forgettable, but has a hype associated with it that cannot be ignored. It almost feels like it is a duty to point out that it is just a boring, slow, ugly RWD Subaru that handles and accelerates just fine compared to a Civic or something–but that’s not the competition.

    There are competent Mustangs, Miatas, and Hyundais for the same price point.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “…anime-watching forum thinks Jack is still bitter over not getting his first 86.”

      Don’t hate. Anime girls have big boobs (in case you haven’t noticed).

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      @FJ69LandCruiser:

      I agree with most of what you say. On May 30, I test drove the FRS. By the time I shifted to 3rd, an overwhelming feeling of disappointment hit me. I had spent seven months dreaming about getting this car, and what did I find? A cheap tin box with a completely non-linear power curve, a rattly boomy engine, all sound and no fury, and a clutch takeup that was totally unacceptable.

      I really couldn’t care less about how well it “tracks”. You have to live with the car on a daily basis, and I could see that I had completely missed the fact that the car was developed to be a cheap car for people much younger than myself, who had never driven enough cars of various kinds to be able to compare this thing with cars that have been properly developed.

      I drove to the Scion dealer in my 08 Legacy GT, a car I purchased because of A1 reviews by M. Karesh and the other female tester on TTAC, whose name I forget. Why? The local Subie dealer had NONE for me to drive. I took a leap of faith, and I’m very happy. The only car I’ve bought without a test drive since I got my license in1964.

      Compared to my Leggy, the FRS is rubbish. Hell, compared to a new Ford Focus SE 5 speed manual, it’s rubbish. As a daily driver, that is. The Focus engine is linear in response, the FRS is not. It’s a complete drag, in fact. And it’s noisy, and shows no sign of real life until you goose it. In this day and age, it’s not acceptable. Forget a possible turbo, this thing is no fun to drive on the street with the engine the way it is. They need to drop 30 hp and get a decent responding, linear-feeling engine.

      As this is already tl;dr, I’ll stop, even though I could go on with more criticism. All I’ll add is that as I sat there after the drive, dazed and disappointed, they did a cursory look at my Leggy, 5 years old and just out of warranty, and I was given a written offer of $15,400 including our 15% tax plus my car against $29,700 including freight and PDI. Guess my car was worth more than I thought. I retraced some of the test drive loop in my car, and went home happy that I had dodged a bullet.

      Folks, don’t believe all the hype. Drive the FRS and decide for yourself. I won’t rag on you if it’s your genuine choice.

      • 0 avatar
        AKADriver

        I drove one, and some of the competition. As of now the FR-S is the only 2013 model car I’d spend my own money on. Haven’t driven a Focus ST yet, to be fair. But let me put it this way: this car made me smile in a way that nothing since the old 240SX did. Most people don’t smile at 240SXs, but that car meant the world to me in my formative years as a driver.

        Most of the hype is worthless, indeed. It’s not a Cayman-fighter. What it is, is a faithful replica of a generic 1980s Japanese coupe, with the full peaky 200hp that the US-market versions of cars like the Silvia and Celica never got. For me, that’s heaven. All I want is a 1991 Nissan Silvia K’s with a warranty.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        “…faithful replica of a generic 1980s Japanese coupe…”

        That’s far more brutal, by magnitudes of order, than anything Jack has said about the Toybaru.

  • avatar
    ringomon

    What’s with all the David Brooks’esque dimestore sociology on the site lately?
    The first two paragraphs of this are meaningless fluff that says more about the hang-ups of the writers on the subject than the actual cars that they’re writing on.
    Can you introduce us some real world examples of this customer base that you’re profiling? Find me just one actual person that matches this imagined profile?
    I’ll walk down to Barnes and Nobles right now and ask the “record counter” guy what kind of car his parents most recently bought for him. Oh wait, they don’t staff the “record counter” anymore, gotta ask mom for gas money too I guess.

    …and then a couple posts later let’s ridicule marketers for trying to define what generation Y wants, as if they have access to the unique social wisdom that we possess.

    I’m an avid reader here, but the proliferation of this kind of stuff irks me. Is there no way to write compelling copy about cars without this kind of projecting BS?

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    This website’s one mission in life is to bring down and ridicule this car hoping it just goes away, how childish and immature!

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      …This website’s one mission in life is to bring down and ridicule this car hoping it just goes away, how childish and immature!…

      This from a guy with a screen name of Volt 230.

      Pot meet kettle, kettle meet pot.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    Remember the Rx-8 versus the 350Z? The Mazda was supposed to be the driver’s car with it’s tucked-in centralized mass. Time marches on, but only one lives on.

    I think the thing here that’s skirting the issue is that having great mechanical fundamentals only shines through when you are comparing similar cars. The FRS falls into neither-nor territory, the Hyundai just gets around everything by having more power and the Miata is just plain smaller and lighter.

    The most interesting comparison would be FRS versus the S2000, both 2litre cars, both front-rear drive coupes. Or pit the FRS versus the old 2litre MR2 turbo. Let’s just see then, in a similar weight and power class, is it the horsepower, low center of gravity, or centralized center of gravity that makes a difference. (Discounting track layout, tires, spring rates and everything else that actually matters on the track!)

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “The most interesting comparison would be FRS versus the S2000…”

      The FRS wants no part of an S2000.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        Yeah, that’s not even going to be close. Might as well put the FR-S against a Cayman. Oh, wait, they did that and some mouth-breather said the Cayman was better. Let me rephrase: might as well put the FR-S against the McLaren F1.

        Seriously though, the S2K is an entire class faster around a racetrack than the FR-S.

      • 0 avatar
        grzydj

        How about pitting the S2000 against the Genesis then? Why isn’t this article about the Genesis in the first place? It’s the clear winner by all non-measured standards.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        Hey, as long as we’re at it, why don’t we put it up against the Mercedes 300SLR?

        Ooh, I know why! Because that car isn’t sold anymore, and neither is the S2000.

      • 0 avatar
        grzydj

        I still want to know why there isn’t an article dedicated to how wonderful the Genesis is.

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Jaeger

        You want articles about the Genesis Coupe? Gosh, why haven’t they thought of doing a review of the Genesis coupe before?

        Oh, wait: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/tag/hyundai-genesis-coupe/

        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/ttac-track-days-with-jack-baruth-episode-1-hyundai-genesis-coupe-3-8-track/
        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/review-2013-hyundai-genesis-coupe/
        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/review-2011-hyundai-genesis-coupe-2-0t/
        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/03/review-2010-hyundai-genesis-coupe-38-grand-touring/

        How many articles do you need?

      • 0 avatar
        JuniperBug

        Has anyone considered the fact that there may be 3 articles rolled out, countdown-style, from worst to best?

        Have all you haters seriously never read a car review publication before to not know that that’s how it usually works?

  • avatar
    hubcap

    Maybe it’s just me (or maybe not) but does anyone else detect a hipster vibe coming from the FT-86/BRZ faithful. If you have the audacity and bald faced gall to prefer something else its because you’re clearly a ham fisted troglodyte. After all, only real drivers, who suckle at the nipple of Ayrton-the driver god-are truly capable of recognizing its greatness.

    Funny thing is the same people bust the Mustang’s balls over its LRA but can’t seem to take the heat when its directed at them.

    For the record, I like the car for what it is. And yes I think its performance has been over hyped. Hopefully Toyota and Subaru will do something about that.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Well making remarks towards Gen Y isn’t exactly going to go well with hipsters, but I do understand what sort of mentality you’re talking about.

      “You don’t like the FRS ’86 because you’re just not sophisticated enough to ‘get it’”.

      • 0 avatar
        ringomon

        This is funny to me because isn’t Jack doing that exact thing in his first couple paragraphs (which have nothing to do with the actual car)? Is not trying to infantalize anyone that would prefer this car, as done in the opening paragraphs of this article not just as egregious?

        “If you prefer this car to the other two that we tested then you probably live in your mom’s basement” I paraphrase.

        I mean c’mon.

        (And for the record I own two Mazdas and have no dog in this fight, having no intents todrive or purchase any of these cars)

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        I’m going to step in briefly here:

        The name of the test, overall, is “Boomerang Basement Bolides”. This is one of the rare instances where we follow established color-rag practice: every C/D comparo from the dawn of the time has had some kind of stupid title

        “Boomer Bimmer Bashers”
        “Mid-Size Mommy Machines”
        “Autobahn Anus Assailants”

        The rest of my comments about this I will do in another short piece to go up later, regarding context in automotive tests. The point here is that the FR-S isn’t being singled out. Any of the three cars might theoretically be competing for the same market. In practice, the Miata skews older.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I read this entire article and have no interest in debating the remarks on Generation Y, its irrelevent to the point.

    Compared to Porsches and other Boxers its a bit dissapointing that this one has a measeley 200hp, they could’ve installed a low-pressure turbo that would’ve kept their precious low center of gravity but they decided not to.

    But then again the FRS was sorta made as the modern ’86 Trueno, a cheap unremarkable car that only got fast after a bunch of tuning, and it wasn’t well known until drifting became popular.

    When it comes to Toyota reliability I suggest just skipping the FRS and buying a used MRS Spyder, identical horsepower but less weight and a removable roof.

    • 0 avatar
      smokingclutch

      An MR2 Spyder with 200 hp? Surely you jest. That car had 130 hp.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        You beat me to it… I was going to point that out. It is also about 2300lbs with 130hp, so the power to weight isnt any better either. My GTI will run rings around my wife’s MRS. But you know what? The MRS is damn fun to drive, I love that car.

        I was hoping the twins would bring back that fun feeling, being about the drive, not the performance. If I can ever find one in stock to drive, I will find out I guess. The reviews are just confusing.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Alright I goofed, I just think it’d be a better car for fun though.

        Plus it may just have 130hp but theres no shaft to get in the way of the power to the wheels, statistically the FRS is better but in the real world you never know until you drive one or the other.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I thought it was actually 138, but could be wrong.

        If I’m right…8 horsepower…just sayin’

  • avatar
    mshenzi

    Hmm, just about everybody is testy about this one, which doesn’t read well in much of anyone.

  • avatar
    carguy

    That was an unexpectedly emotional response to what I thought was a highly entertaining and lighthearted review. Jack is just stating that the fastest car around the track is also the better track car and that the Miata is more fun than the FR-S. No one is insulting your religion or questioning your parentage.

    For those young ones who feel that their self esteem may have been mortally wounded by having been wrongly stereotyped in the introduction: get used to it as it happens a lot more as you older. From new parent stereotypes to mid life crisis jokes and old the way to old geezerhood – there a funny little stereotypes for every stage of life.

    • 0 avatar

      Lacking anything substantial to base one’s identity in (religion, some kind of secular moral code, a family, real accomplishments) people invest that capacity in brands, and god help you if you attack their tribal affiliation…

      • 0 avatar
        ringomon

        He who chooses to wrestle with pigs shouldn’t complain about getting dirty Derek.

        The opening paragraphs of this review reflect no reality other than one percieved by the writer(s) to protect their own sensitivities.
        What else can you call such baseless socio-babble?

        It makes me think the reviewers are either unsure of their stance in the actual body of the review, (you know, the part actually about the cars), or at least perhaps unable to express it without resorting to some mockery in the form of trite stereotype.

      • 0 avatar
        probert

        I hate it when I get dirty Derek – and I don’t wrestle with pigs.

  • avatar

    These kind of track and street multi-way comparisons are really hard for blogs to pull off, so kudos on doing so.

    They’re so revealing, too. Reviewed on its own, I think Jack would’ve had a slightly more positive (but still jaded and generational) perspective. Sampled concurrently with a Miata? So close, yet so far…

    Personally, I’m looking forward to the street review, as I think the mere presence of a hatch and back seats do a lot for ok’ing the purchase of an FRS over a Miata.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    It sounds like the car is caught in the murky netherworld of compromise…you can see it as the worst of the both worlds or conversely say it hits the sweet spot in between the Gensis’s practicality and performance and the Miata’s fun factor.

    The Genesis could also be said to be compromised, as I see little reason to take the 4 cylinder Genesis over the (arguably) better looking, 6 cylinder, and (inarguably) higher peformance V6 mustang.

    It is interesting to compare prices when differences between MSRP and price paid are considered. Truecar says average price paid here in Orlando for a Genesis 2.0t R is $26,866, the estimated member price is 25,734. For the FR-S, the average Orlando price is $25,147 and the member price is $26,049. If you wanna go based on average prices, if the $1700 difference between the Scion and the Genesis could probably get me a decent amount of extra performance, and as comments in the video review noted, this was a car designed to be modified.

    Truecar doesnt have enough sales data for a V6 Mustang but its MRSP with a performance pack is less than $25k.

    Oh and as far as Generation Y’s basement dwelling habits go…I’m 28 gainfully employed in my chosen career field, and make more than enough $ to live on my own. However, rent is ridiculously expensive, and having done that before, I’m tired of throwing $ away. so, I live with family until I’m ready to buy. To me, that’s smart financial thinking.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    I think the key to FRS was always going to be price. At 26k, its just not competitive in the way it needs to be in order to be the home-run everyone was hoping it would be.

    Like Jack said, for 17k-18k, it would be brilliant, and a no brainer, and they’d sell as many as they could make. But Toyota doesn’t want to make and sell lots and lots of FRS’ for small profit, they want to sell a few for good profit. On top of that, the majority of the kids who drag their parents to the Toyota/Scion dealership can be safely shunted into corollas/matrices/yarisi when the reality of the proposition settles in.

    • 0 avatar
      daiheadjai

      A RSX Type S cost about 30k CAD when it was offered (i.e. factor in inflation from the past 10 years)
      The FR-S costs 26k CAD today.

    • 0 avatar
      hgrunt

      The FRS’s current pricing is probably a result of the sharp appreciation of the yen against the dollar in 08-09 and the car’s target price was probably locked in Yen before that happened. At pre-recession exchange rates, the car probably could’ve been priced $2000-$3000 less.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    It sounds as if you wanted either a pony car with oversteer or a roadster with oversteer, and that you’re disappointed that you didn’t get either one, even though neither was promised.

    You’re entitled to your opinion, but I’m not sure if I was trust a review of a Chinese restaurant from a guy who disliked Chinese food, and who had been hoping to get a burger. Were you reviewing the car, or your expectations for it?

  • avatar
    stuki

    I’m a bit puzzled about the GTR comparison.

    The FR-S is seemingly a dog slow car, whose entire raison d’etre is soul and intangibles; while the GTR is a soulless appliance, whose only saving grace is that it is so darned fast, that noone in more soulful cars, can keep up with long enough to know exactly why they are supposed to look down on it.

    • 0 avatar
      AKADriver

      I don’t think the FR-S really delivers on “soul and intangibles”, in the traditional sense of sports cars. The MX-5 does and that’s why Jack likes it better. The FR-S instead has the soul of every eighties and nineties Japanese sports coupe which ever lost a magazine comparison to a more expensive, slower European product.

      I love the FR-S, just like I loved my 240SX, but a lot of the hype and fanboy-ism around it comes from people who are ogling the spec sheet, just in a different way. There’s no big horsepower or grip number to brag about, but it’s a certain combination of weight, rear wheel drive, and hardtop that hasn’t existed for a while. It’s the car for every forum post that ever said “I wish the Civic Si was RWD” or “I wish the Genesis Coupe weighed less than 3000lb”.

  • avatar
    randomguywithamazda

    Oh Jacky boy how you have fallen. Still upset over not being picked by Toyota to play on the cool kid’s team, eh?

    And leave us Miata owners out of it, we already know that we own the best modern production car ever made. Some of us Miata owners also happen to like the FRS/BRZ twins… coughcough949Racingdevelopment.

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    What’s with the FR-S trollbaiting here?

  • avatar
    daiheadjai

    With all due respect to Jack and Derek, I’m probably still going to get one of these twins.
    Why?

    I don’t need 300hp – I probably won’t have the time (or money) to track the car regularly, so something fun to drive, but somewhat practical (sorry, Miata – it’s not you, it’s me) would be in order.

    Is the FR-S/BRZ perfect? Probably not (don’t know – haven’t driven them yet). But compared to most cars in this price range, they should do quite nicely (assuming that, like me, you want a trunk, two rear seats-however vestigial or halfhearted they may be, RWD, decent gas mileage, compact size/packaging).

    That being said, I agree with Jack’s thoughts that this car would’ve been sweeter with a proper Toyota engine (tuned by Yamaha) along the lines of the Celica GT-S’s 2ZZ-GE (preferably with the lift cam tuned for a lower, more accessible switch – say 5000rpm?).

    One thing that does puzzle though: I’m surprised Jack doesn’t have anything negative to say about the Hyundai’s shifter feel, rev-hangs, turbo lag or any such things. From some of the reviews (and owner comments) I’ve seen, these issues still haven’t been fully fixed in the new iteration of the Genesis Coupe (which was one of the first cars I’ve seriously considered purchasing new).

    And as an aside, this gainfully-employed, University-educated 28yr old still lives at home because real estate prices in Toronto are ridiculous and I don’t see the financial sense in renting (i.e. paying someone else’s mortgage) just for the sake of moving out.
    I’ve driven 2nd- (or 3rd-)hand cars all my life, with my own purchases being a $6,000 MkIV Jetta 2.0L and a $3,000 2002 Celica GT (both manual, of course).

    So don’t fret – we’re not ALL entitled “Occupy Everywhere” consumers.
    Hell, I still don’t even have a smartphone…

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      Don’t take this too personally, as in 10 years you’ll be the one financially ahead, but this 28 year-old who’s still studying part-time and doesn’t know yet what he wants to be when he grows up (but making average money in the process of figuring it out), would rather lose his right hand than have to explain to romantic partners – and myself – that I still live with Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad likely wouldn’t be too keen on me mooching off of them and cramping their post-retirement style as I approach my fourth decade of life, either. But then, I also didn’t like borrowing Dad’s car when I was 17, and promptly paid cash earned from my minimum-wage job for an old one of my own.

      No debt, an old Miata in the (rented) garage and have been to about a dozen countries (as well as having owned a small string of sport motorcycles), and expect to have a modest down payment for a place of my own saved up by the time my current lease is up. You can be in decent financial shape and simultaneously wear big-boy pants if you make it your priority (and don’t expect to live in a house as big as your parents’ by the time you’re 30 or buy $30,000 sport coupes, for that matter).

      • 0 avatar
        AKADriver

        In my own little microcosm of the economy, I did what you did, and now at 31 my in-laws live with me – I bought their house lock, stock, and barrel so they could afford medical treatments which left my father-in-law unable to work. They grow veggies in my backyard and what I save every month in child care pays the mortgage.

      • 0 avatar
        daiheadjai

        No worries, JuniperBug. No offense taken – it is refreshing to see how others do it on their own.
        My condo (for which I saved the downpayment) is being finished early next year.

        In the meantime, I live with the folks (and pay them rent that is about market rate), and save what I can.

    • 0 avatar
      AKADriver

      I’ve driven it and judging by the tone of your posts I think you’ll like it. Even Jack here likes it – just doesn’t think it meets his expectations and isn’t as good on a track in his eyes as the Miata or Genesis. And that’s OK.

      Coming from an NB Miata in my case, the FR-S is significantly faster and more livable, but without as many concessions to modernity as the Genesis or Mustang. It’s a narrow, low car with good visibility out the front and sides, which is just something you can’t buy anywhere else (except the Miata). That, to me, clinches the FR-S’ daily drivability factor in ways that horsepower or ride qualiy don’t. I can change shocks but I can’t lower a beltline.

  • avatar
    John

    I see nothing wrong with the FRS. I see a lot wrong with the pre-marketing. Classic case of promising too much and delivering too little – at too high a price.

    - was supposed to be a game changer development guided by a fanatic
    engineer who is a racer – isn’t a game changer
    - was supposed to be highly modifiable – no TRD parts available
    - was supposed to be affordable for twenty-somethings – isn’t

    The V-6 Mustang; on the other hand, was thought to be junk – because for generations V-6 Mustangs have been junk – and isn’t – and is selling like hotcakes.

    • 0 avatar
      daiheadjai

      Care to explain how it’s too expensive?
      Like I mentioned before, the old RSX-S (which I think most people would still view as a very good sport coupe) cost more 10 years ago than this new Scion (and possibly even the BRZ) does now.

      Of course, there isn’t much you can do to argue against the budget performance proposition of the V6 ‘Stang, but not everyone wants to drive something that large (full disclaimer, I really love the looks of the Mustang and the Challenger etc. – just not a good fit for what I want to drive).

      Still too soon to declare the twins dead – the aftermarket needs time to grow, and these cars have only been out for a few months (though turbo kits and aero parts are already popping up).

      • 0 avatar
        AKADriver

        Well, to be fair, 20-somethings made a lot more money in 2002 than they do now. Currency fluctuations messed with the price. They aimed for a target of a 2 million yen price tag in Japan, and hit it. Back when the FT86 program started, in 2008, that would have made it a $21000 car in the US. Now it’s a $25000 car.

        I don’t think it’s too expensive, either, but the price point and affordability level did slip for reasons out of Toyota’s control. The US economy sucks, the Japanese economy sucks more, and this is a 100% Japanese-made car… no Chinese transmission and tinfoil driveshaft like the Mustang.

    • 0 avatar
      arbnpx

      The TRD parts are coming in a timed release; in Japan, the 86 already has a number of TRD parts available (including the dual-twin-tip exhaust, as seen on 86 Day at Fuji Speedway this past weekend).

      Cusco already has a full catalog of suspension parts ready to sell. Perrin has a lightweight crank pulley. HKS and Greddy are working on FA20 turbo kits.

  • avatar
    daiheadjai

    Jack, you should try to track down a MR-2 Spyder with a 2ZZ-GE swap.
    You get the Celica GT-S engine (1.8L, 180hp) in an even lighter, RWD package.

    That might be the mythical Toyota sportscar that you yearn for.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    i think for the rest of the world and the normal population, the 86 is the winner.

    The problem is the Genesis isnt available in many places – if it was, we’d love it.

    The Mazda is a toy car… and worst, a toy car at the end of its life. Its a 2nd car at best. You can be the best handling track car in the world but if it doesnt even try to live in the real world, its not going to sell… and thats why you see sales figures of fingers and toes every months.

    That leaves the 86. Is it a compromise? Sure. Where I am its priced well and seems to have that “buzz” that only 1st year coupes have (see new Mustang and Camaro in their debut year). This ‘buzz’ extends to non car folk asking “what is that?”, “how much is it?”, “not bad!”…

    Does a car have to be perfect in every aspect to sell? No. The 86 hits most of its goals well. And the reality is that its backlogged until xmas 2013…

    by any measure the 86 is the sales success of 2012 and i’d rather have a genesis all things being equal… which they’re not

    i could conceivably live with a genesis or 86 as a daily ONLY car… i couldn’t do it with a Miata

    of course any small SUV would be the practical choice but thats the choices people who live in the real world have to make

  • avatar
    vanpressburg

    Not very good article. Scion FR-S is a great car.But I agree that
    Hyundai Genesis coupe is the best value in sport cars.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    It’s the Emperor’s New Car…

    “The Emperor! He has no torque!”

    It’s bad when a guy says straight up that he really likes a car, but because it’s not OMG the best evar!!! this horrible flame war erupts. Good thing he didn’t *hate* the car…

  • avatar
    Zombo

    Too bad the Genesis Coupe doesn’t have the good looks of the first generation , too bad the Miata doesn’t have leg room for real proportioned people other than those 5’9″ or below . Don’t like the Subaru engine in a Toyota , but understand why people would buy this car for the road – not the friggan’ track ! I’d still opt for a low mileage used RSX Type S with a LSD rear drive be damned , but that’s just me and loving the power delivery by keeping it revved and on the boil . If only I could squeeze into a S2000 ! Maybe that’s a car that should be included in any future rear drive tests even though it’s not in production ? After all all FRS/BRZ models are already sold beforehand so it’s not like this site has to promote them even though the other books/sites do . How about road tests of S2000/FRS/RX8/RSX in other words lighter higher revving cars not necessarily in production anymore against the cars that replaced them ? After all TTAC isn’t in the business of promoting new cars is it ? I believe that has already been answered with the trashing of the Toyobaru .

    • 0 avatar
      daiheadjai

      I totally agree.
      I think if they re-released the 2.0T with the new engine (274hp) and the first generation’s looks, I’d have a hard time choosing.

      Especially since (prior to the arrival of the FR-S) I had considered leasing/purchasing the original 210hp GenCoupe 2.0T.

  • avatar
    Mike.S.

    This car sort of reminds me of the way Toyota shot themselves in the foot when they released the last MR2 with no option for upgrading to the 180 horsepower engine.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    I think it’s very refreshing that a car is designed to be enjoyed, not to beat certain cars in tracks most of its owners will never experience. How many of us regularly had track time? And do so with the purpose of beating certain other cars? Except car journalists/bloggers, very few of us.

    Giving the FR-S the means to beat certain other car’s time on the track would costs something. More power, more grip, more brakes, and eventually, it’ll ruin the balance, or more likely, the price. Do we really need another Nissan GT-R?

  • avatar
    sastexan

    Late to the comment field; on vacation and not checking my RSS reader from my iPhone regularly. And commenting using the iPhone is a pain. I wrote a long reply to the video yesterday that I think WordPress ate so I’m not going to rehash it.

    Reading this article twice, the main issue with it is once you peel back all the hilarious stereotyping Jack ladens on, he really likes the car! You have to get to the end to really see that part. This piece comes off a little too fluff but the video does a good job being substantive.

    I’m not a fanboi by any means, nor meet any of Jack’s classifications of fr-s owners. However, as a track car, he probably is correct and many of the commenters forget this article is about the car on the track – not the street – as Jack points out in the comments. The fr-s, to me, is the best compromise between occasional hpde and daily street use (I say that before I get it on the track). Most buyers will be in the same category – i would be surprised if many fr-s owners use this car as a dedicated track car.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Ripping on this new, untested boxer (I really think the D4S system should solve a lot of DI problems and turn out to be a great engine) based on the experience of the gasket-popping EJ25 is akin to thinking a 3SGTE is a good engine thanks to it’s distant family relation to a 22RE. Oh wait, you do think that. Your opinion is invalid.

    Here is MY expert track test opinion (Just walks over and looks at cars):
    Hyundai- Has a fish face. This car sucks.
    Miata- Less room than my Subaru 360. Not for me.
    FRS- This works. I would make minor changes to make this car keep up with it’s peers if I had to. Because that is what people who do this kind of thing do.

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    I have almost zero interest in any of these 3 cars yet I still read the review. I read dry technical documentation all day so when I visit TTAC I expect sensational, sarcastically entertaining anecdotes mixed with insight and at least a degree of objectivity. If I wanted just the facts I’d have Consumer Reports on my favorites bar instead of TTAC. Consider me a satisfied customer.

    For those who were irreparably insulted by an online car review I suppose I can empathize with the uptight attitude; after all it is tough to get laid when you are still living in Mom’s basement.


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