By on September 11, 2012

We’ve already looked at the FR-S, but I came of car-driving age just minutes before the heyday of the Toyota AE86 and, by God, I’m going to write about any car that claims to be an homage to the car that stands as the ’55 Chevy of Japan. So, I got on the horn with Toyota PR: “Hey, Moe, it’s Murilee Martin. Yeah, that Murilee Martin. Listen, I’m heading out to the East Bay next weekend and I need something that won’t embarrass me when I need to out-donut the Glasshouse Caprices at the sideshows in Oakland, know what I’m saying? Sure, the FR-S sounds good!”
Actually, given that automotive PR guys probably assume that car writers treat their cars like gorillas all jacked up on adrenachrome-and-Douglas Fir liqueur cocktails, I probably could have said exactly those words and it wouldn’t have raised any eyebrows. In reality, though, I was coming out to California to visit family and spend a day tailgating before an Oakland Athletics game. I picked up the car at the Oakland Airport and was parked next to the Faster Farms 1966 Plymouth Belvedere race car and eating barbecued meat products about five minutes later.
Since the airport and the ballpark are about two miles from each other, I didn’t get much chance to do any real driving right away. However, I did do a real-world trunk-capacity test right away, and learned that you can fit two good-sized suitcases with no hassle. The back seat provides additional cargo space; you won’t be putting any passengers back there, but we’ll return to that subject a bit later.
So, I had about five hours of tailgating time to examine the details of the car and discuss them with my super-geeked-out car-expert friends. I’ve driven, ridden in, and wrenched on quite a few AE86s, and this car looks nothing whatsoever like the Hachi-roku. This is good, because there’s something depressing about car companies exhuming the long-dead corpses of their past and using them to hawk modern machinery.
Once you start looking at the details, you’ll find many more cues that point to Subaru rather than Toyota. The boxer-4 engine, of course, is straight-up Subaru.
The build tag shows that the car was built by Fuji Heavy Industries, the interior materials feel much more Subaru-ish than Toyota-esque, and the inner fenders are stamped SUBARU.
On that subject, everybody, including me, refers to this car as a Toyota, which is as good an indication as any that the Scion brand hasn’t sunk deep roots in the car-buying public’s consciousness.
Here’s a little detail that says a lot about the philosophical differences between German, Japanese, and American automotive engineers. My friend Shawn, of Junkyard Build Quality Challenge fame, pointed out this anti-honk box attached to the air cleaner housing. Anti-honk boxes (or whatever the technical term is— anti-resonance chamber?) change the volume of the engine’s air-intake tract so as to avoid unpleasant audio resonance at certain engine speeds and loads. The Detroit carmakers don’t really care if your sub-$30k car’s engine makes a noise like a seasick rhinoceros sometimes— just shoot some more insulation on the firewall, problem solved! German engineers can’t tolerate the idea of engine honk, so they redesign the entire intake system if necessary. Toyota and Subaru, however, looked at their budget for this car, calculated the cost of modifying the parts-bin air cleaner (which was probably taken off the Impreza or Corolla or whatever high-production-level part came closest to fitting), and opted for the addition of a simple anti-honk box. I’d planned on stuffing a sock into the anti-honk box’s inlet and seeing how bad the honk really was, but ran out of time.
I always like to nose around under the hood of a new car, to get a sense of what corners were cut. The electrical connectors looked to be of pretty high quality— both Subaru and Toyota have always been good about not pinching yen too ruthlessly in that department— but I noticed a few things that you wouldn’t expect to see on even the cheapest Toyota. For example, these plastic headlight-assembly brackets. A few years of underhood heat will make them fragile, and then someone leaning over the hood will put a knee into the headlight and snap the brackets. This is the sort of thing you expect from Chrysler, circa 1991, not Toyota or Subaru.
Likewise, who uses these Manny, Moe, and Jack-grade, 1952-technology hose clamps nowadays?
My first real complaint about the FR-S came up when I decided to crank up some Ant Banks on the sound system, for the enjoyment of my tailgating companions. This is the 21st century, you can buy full-featured MP3 players direct from China for, like, $6.59, and there’s really no excuse for a factory stereo with alleged iPod interface to be such a pain in the ass to navigate.
Then there’s the quality of the sound system itself; the demographic most likely to buy this car is going to insist on some serious boom, and the standard 300-watt Panasonic system delivers less bass than the junkyard setup I stuffed into my ’92 Civic for a total investment of 25 bucks. Definitely not Tigra and Bunny- approved. I had to stick with no-thud-required stuff (e.g., the Dead Kennedys) for the soundtrack of my East Bay visit.
The day after the A’s tailgate party, I decided to take the FR-S on a tour of all my favorite East Bay wrecking yards (you can see the results in the most recent Junkyard Find posts). Junkyards are almost always in areas with terribly potholed roads, and I learned right away that you don’t want to set the car in the stiff “VSC Sport” mode on such roads. I needed a junkyard taco-truck meal just to settle my stomach after getting a beating that felt like sitting in a trash can being dragged over railroad ties.
Even normal highway driving is pretty miserable when in Sport mode, and the car hangs onto the pavement far beyond my admittedly meager driving abilities when taking freeway interchanges at fun speeds anyway, even with all the stability- and traction-control nannies in full effect. The ride is plenty firm when in non-sport mode, but it’s like a comfy Barcalounger next to the bouncy, noisy original AE86. The FR-S would make a completely non-punitive commuter, unless your idea of commuting comfort was derived from the 1974 Cadillac Sedan DeVille.
Another minor quibble that would be a bigger deal if I were driving this car in the Ivy Mike-level bright sun of Denver: the windshield reflections off the reflective dashboard surface. I thought the car companies solved this problem 15 years ago.
Right, so what’s this thing like to drive? It took me a while to figure it out, but after a few hours of horsing around in empty industrial areas of East Oakland I realized that the FR-S isn’t an homage to the original AE86. It’s an homage to the heavily modified drifter/tuner AE86s of the last decade.
The original Corolla GT-S (or Sprinter Trueno, or whatever you want to call it) was a spindly, 2,200-pound econobox of simple construction that was fitted with a pretty-good-for-the-mid-80s 112-horsepower L4 engine. Adding a bunch of power— which, of course, just about every AE86 owner has done by now— turns the car into a real handful, a parts-busting beast that’s eager to wrap itself around the nearest utility pole.
So, the 2,700-pound, 200-horsepower FR-S is to the drifter AE86 as the SRT8 Challenger is to the tunnel-rammed-440-equipped street-racer Challenger of the early 1970s. Just as the new Challenger turns once-difficult burnouts, convenience-store-parking-lot donuts, and 12-second quarter-mile passes into accomplishments that any idiot can pull off with almost no practice, so does the FR-S put all the dorifto moves of Initial D into the grasp of just about any schlub. You want to wow the kids in the mall parking lot with a perfect 180-degree E-brake turn on your first attempt? The FR-S will oblige. In fact, this car makes the previous E-Brake Turn Champion of the World (a rented Chevy Cobalt in a badly paved racetrack paddock) seem uncontrollable by comparison.
The same goes for moves that require you to blow away the rear tires and slide around like an idiot. Turn off the traction control, cock the wheel a bit, get on the gas, and you’ll be drifting around like some dude who killed a dozen Nissan 240SXs as the price for learning his skills.
My prediction: When these cars depreciate enough to put them within reach of the 16-to-22-year-old crowd, say ten years from now, look out! We’re going to see FR-Ss upside-down, on fire, and/or T-boned-into signposts wherever teenagers gather.
For the grownups who don’t care much about Japanese street-racing fads, the FR-S will make a pretty good weekday commuter/weekend autocross car. I didn’t have as much fun driving it as I did with the Mazda RX-8 (the Mazda feels lighter and less like a drag racer), but the FR-S manages to get nearly double the fuel-economy of the Wankel-powered machine, while being several orders of magnitude better-looking. If you want the opinion of Jack “The Ohio Player” Baruth, who is capable of going quickly around a race track in most un-car-journo-ish fashion, on the FR-S’s racetrack prowess, go here.
Something felt strangely familiar about the FR-S as I drove it from junkyard to junkyard, and then it hit me: the stiff, super-short-throw shifter and gargly boxer engine sound might as well have been swapped directly from my wife’s ’04 Subaru Outback. Once again, the FR-S feels more like a Fuji Heavy Industries product than a Toyota product.
I approve of the semi-old-timey-looking instrument cluster, though the weirdly centered speedometer is more or less useless (there’s a digital speed display inside the tach).
The racy-style front seats are great for hurling the car through tight turns and they’re quite comfortable in spite of the goofy-looking thick red stitching; more to the point, they look like the kind of aftermarket component that generations of Hachi-roku owners have bolted into their cars.
The sill plates have this puzzling polka-dot motif, which is carried over to the pedals.
The back seat, well, isn’t. My 12-year-old niece, who’s about 4′ 8″ tall and skinny, couldn’t find a way to sit comfortably in the back of the FR-S. The rear seat area should work well for grocery bags, though, and you can use the seat belts to keep the bags from sliding around as you execute a psychotic power-slide all the way across the Safeway parking lot.
The HVAC controls are uncomplicated, which is good, but the control mechanisms feel crappier than what I’m used to on Toyota cars.
While on my tour of the industrial East Bay, I happened upon this parked mid-80s Cressida. Note the size similarity between the roomy luxury car and the snug sporty car. Also note that the Cressida is sittin’ on some bullshit compared to the Scion.
The FR-S is still small when parked next to a ’66 Belvedere. My verdict on the FR-S: I could drive this thing every day and be very happy with it, but I’d expect Subaru reliability instead of the (historically superior) Toyota version. At $24,997 as tested, the FR-S has a pretty good bang-for-buck ratio… but I’d also take a long look at the similarly priced Miata before I bought one.

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76 Comments on “Review: 2013 Scion FR-S...”


  • avatar
    noxioux

    I was going to say ENOUGH with the ’86 reviews already.

    But this one wasn’t half bad. Except that it still ended with the exact same kind of statement we’ve seen on every other review of the two cars: Look at something else first.

    Noted.

    Now, can we not find something else to write about?

    • 0 avatar

      AGREED

      And what really bothers me about this car is that it’s probably the most overhyped and underwhelming car in history, yet, it’s outshined by it’s brother – the BRZ – which gets far less reviews and attention. I drove both cars (have a video of a sexy girl driving me on my tube) and every single disappointment I had in the FRS seemed redeemed by the BRZ in some way.

      The best statement I’ve read thus far is: “The Scion FR-S is like a Nissan GT-R for guys still living in their parent’s basement”.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I just want to add for good measure that since I’ve now driven the FR-S, anyone who claims it’s anything remotely as good as the RX-8, unless their primary focus is fuel economy, has a severe case of Walleye Vision accompanied by Tactile Deficiency Syndrome.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    I like your style! Yes, this joins the ever-growing pile of TTAC FR-S reviews, as “noxioux” points out, rather forcefully and yet . . .

    The differing perspectives — especially the nuts-and-bolts-under-the-hood viewpoint — I find worth reading (especially expressed with such verge and eclat), even though the chances I would buy this car, or anything resembling it, are close to zero.

    I’m not a trackday tool, nor can I see the point in racing around cones in a parking lot so, for me, a “fun car” (like this) has to have a soft top.

  • avatar
    dave504

    TTAC really can’t help itself when it comes to cheap shots at American cars. FYI the resonators on domestics are usually attached to the airbox within the fender well or within the intake tract itself, but please don’t let facts derail the 24/7 America hate-fest.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Huh? This site is pretty much an equal opportunity zone for haters, even though its North American base lends itself to a lot of attention being paid to the Big 3.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      I thought the same. Murilee is a product of a different time, though. You would not believe the $$ thrown at Vehicle Engineering (NVH/S&R/etc.) at my work place. The GTDI Edge was an eye opener. I enjoy the sound of a turbo and you would never tell it was under the hood with the windows closed.

    • 0 avatar
      Jesse

      Please read this entire series by Murilee and tell me that he is an American car hater:

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/tag/impala-hell-project/

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      Do you serve any purpose besides constantly accusing the TTAC staff of bias?

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      You would be hard pressed to find a reviewer who has a genuine passion for both American and Japanese metal as does Mr. Martin. Save your accusations of bias for someone who deserves it.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The common term is intake silencer, and even the lowly Ford Tempos that had port EFI had not one but two while the Japanese cars of the era had nothing. One was actually fully hidden inside the air box and the other doubled as a radiator cover. A much more elegant solution than a box pop riveted to the air box so it makes changing the air cleaner a pain.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    This is a good review, probably the one I’ve found the most useful, at least until Mr. Karesh (or Consumer Reports) does the same. Less track, more “Yeah, I have a real life and can’t manage a Miata until the kids have all moved out”. And the photos are well done.

    Still, I get the impression I’d probably be happier with the tC than the FR-S: more kidspace (my 6 year old is 4’5″ already), a real (Saabish) trunk and a little more of that Toyota it’s-crude-and-ugly-and-won’t-ever-break-so-you’re-stuck-with-it. And I grew up when “rear drive” meant “awful American iron” anyway…

    • 0 avatar
      Jesse

      I test drove the first gen tC (not sure if there are more than one gen) years ago when it first came out. I remember noting that the visibility was horrible and that my sister was riding in back, and is no more than 5’1″, and her head was hitting the rear glass.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      The tC in some ways is the modern AE86, in that it is a Corolla coupe. But if you are going to settle for a Corolla couple why not just get a Corolla?

      Or you could get the closest thing to an FR-S sedan/hatchback, the Impreza. It hasn’t recieved a lot of love, but an AWD, longitudinal engine sedan or hatch, with the choice of stick, for under $20K, doesn’t seem to shabby to me.

  • avatar
    John

    Those early ’90′s 5.0 Mustangs from your vid had anti-honk boxes AND constant tension spring hose clamps. The anti honk boxes are inside the passenger fender.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Oh man, my ’94 Caprice has the biggest star-ship Enterprise honk box ever made. GM apparently cared enough at that point to affix a honk box that doubled as an engine cover.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    The “honk box” is a Helmholtz resonator that as you say is tuned to eliminate a particular resonance frequency. This, too, is straight-up Subaru as just about every boxer-4 Subie I’ve seen has some version of intake system resonator. My wife’s 99 Legacy SUS with the EJ25D has a quarter-wave resonator in the intake that is a slightly-bent cylindrical tube that protrudes from the main intake line and parallels the main tube.

  • avatar
    VelocityRed3

    The author likes “the cars that go boom” & thus wins teh internet ;-)

  • avatar
    poltergeist

    Not sure where M.M. has been for the last 15+ years or so. I can’t speak for Toyotas specifically, but every Honda from at least ’96-on has headlights that are mounted to the front structure with moulded in plastic brackets. Yes they do sometimes break, but usually only if you run the car into something solid.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    So, MM, just how long did you have to study to learn all that so-called street-slang mumbo-jumbo? you’re not that young, so why not just give a review in plain English (remember that language)? I’m sure the young-uns can kind of recall SOME schooling and figure it out. ;)

    Otherwise, I think it was good…

    As for comparing cars of 30 years ago with cars now, there’s no comparison, and unless there’s a nuclear holocaust and things start over, you won’t see cars like that again. I, for one, am glad, but I’m not young, either.

  • avatar
    slance66

    My favorite review of this car yet (which is not a plea for another). Look, the car serves no practical purpose. It’s not ideal for track days, as Jack showed, it has no back-seat, and it’s too stiff to really be a good commuter car.

    So what MM points out is that it doesn’t matter. All of that was true of the 240 Z as well, and the early Celicas. It looks pretty good and goes pretty good, so used ones will be prime targets for the young male crowd. It’s a thumb in the eye of the swiss army knife approach to cars. That color really works well on it too.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    These will turn out to be like mid-late 90′s Mustangs, fun cars that you’ll see here and there (with the occasional awful bodykit), but once winters hit they’ll join SUVs in the ditch.

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    “The Detroit carmakers don’t really care if your sub-$30k car’s engine makes a noise like a seasick rhinoceros sometimes— just shoot some more insulation on the firewall, problem solved!”

    Maybe in the 1970′s, you would be correct. Modern day? Not so much.

  • avatar
    Speed Spaniel

    “but I’d also take a long look at the similarly priced Miata before I bought one.”

    Ouch! Rub salt in that wound. LOL.

    From all of the comments on this site about the greatness of the Miata, the curiosity was killing me, so I went and looked at one and test drove this weekend. Needless to say I will be picking up a 2012, liquid silver Grand Touring PRHT, 6 speed manual with premium and suspension packages on Wednesday. Now’s the time to buy because these cars are heavily discounted. I’m up to 3 cars, but I think the VW has to go. How do I buy stock in my insurance company?

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      How old are you? Age does matter with these things. However, you bought a Grand Touring, so that will make life easier. You will also very much appreciate that 6th gear, too. Does yours have cruise control?

      We sold our 2007 MX5 sport in late July. It was granite gray, very nice, but it sure needed another highway gear. It also needed cruise control for my commute, which is one reason I sold it.

      They’re fun cars, but after two years, report back how you feel about it. We owned ours two years, two months. We don’t miss it except for the convertible experience, but as a neighbor across our street bought it, I can look at it everyday! Perhaps bum a ride once in a while…

      • 0 avatar
        Speed Spaniel

        I’m 47 and this isn’t my first roadster type of vehicle. I’m pretty sure it has cruise control, but so does my CC and 4Runner and a million cars before that and I’ve never used it. When you commute into Boston, it’s impossible to use cruise control (even residing 35 miles in the ‘burbs). I’ve owned a 2002 Z3 3.0, and a 2004 TT 3.2. I’ve learned from those cars that they are not meant for commuting. This will solely be a weekend toy, maybe join a Miata club and perhaps try a race track for the first time. For the price, especially with the discount, these cars are a steal.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        You won’t be sorry. The Miata is made of premium grade….well, everything…compared to the Toybarus.

        When I last sat in a MX-5, with the baseball glove leather (whatever they call it, it’s freaking beautiful), I was blown away by the perfect gauges, quality of the switches and dials, and incredibly high attention to fit and finish.

        The MX-5 is a magical and exceedingly rare vehicle, combining the charm of a British Roadster, with the reliability of the best of Japanese built vehicles, and the ability to punch notches above its belt/weight class in terms of performance.

        I love Zackman, but you have to remember he’s been whipping an Impala for a while now, so his priorities are waaaay out of whack.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        @DeadWeight:

        Ha! I got a kick out if that!

        We sold our MX5 and my 2004 Impala in a downsizing move. Other factors made the Mazda agony for me to drive my 100-mile commute very often, and it didn’t make sense to keep the newest car garaged and little-used most of the time. We loved the car – it was a blast to zip around town in, but droning along on the highway for me, especially w/o cruise control, not so much.

        We never intended to sell the car after only two years, but life intervened, and there you have it.

        I don’t believe my priorities are out of whack, but my aging body slowly is – and my doctor continually tells me how good of shape I’m in!

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Zackman, I’m with you. I’m half your age (okay, a little bit more than 1/2), but my priorities are getting closer to out of whack, too, as I think my next car will be a soft, quiet, comfortable cruiser, where the ugly noise of the world goes quiet when I shut the door.

        I am caring less about skidpad numbers with each passing day.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Zackman You’ve exposed the dark underbelly of Miata ownership. My mom is drawing Social Security and zips around town in her red Miata and makes sub 80 mile round trips all the time. She rents something for vacations and longer trips.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @Zackman…Life intervened? I know the feeling. I traded my beloved Impala, for a SS2 Camaro 6 speed stick, and kept my Mustang,and the Cobalt.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        @Mikey:

        Back in April, I snapped a few fibers in my right hamstring and it kills me to drive any distance beyond 20 minutes without cruise control. The MX5 was especially agonizing.

        I know this is off-topic, but we had to re-evaluate our circumstances and decided to sell my 2004 Impala and the 2007 MX5. It’s been a long recovery and it’s not over yet…trouble is, it’s only when I drive, and I LOVE to drive!

        At age 61, it takes a lot longer to recover from anything, I guess.

        The B&B is going to kill me, but if we would have bought the 2007 MX5 Grand Touring we looked at with AUTOMATIC transmission, we’d still have it, I’m afraid, cruise control and all…man-card notwithstanding…

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @Zackman… Wow…way off topic here,hope you feel better soon. With a Camaro and a Mustang, I’m praying I can fold my 58 year old,and counting body into those seats for a while yet.

        They keep us old guys around here at TTAC, just for our years of knowledge eh?

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        About those gauges on the MX-5….yes, they draw me like a perfectly executed Swiss watch dial…

        …c’mon…does it get any better?

        http://image.motortrend.com/f/35917406+w786+ar1/2012-Mazda-MX-5-Miata-instrument-gauges.jpg

        http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5214/5414444782_d87784cfaf_z.jpg

        http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog.com/media/2012/08/lead4-mini-roadster-mazda-miata-comparo.jpg

        And that “baseball glove” leather I mentioned earlier…

        http://images.autotrader.com/scaler/544/408/images/2012/7/12/325/823/26458543711.325823754.IM1.07.565x421_A.562×421.jpg

        http://images.autotrader.com/scaler/544/408/images/2012/7/12/325/823/26458543716.325823754.IM1.08.565x421_A.562×421.jpg

        ooooooh, I need a cold shower now. My woman is asleep (snoring, too…how decidedly unattractive).

    • 0 avatar

      You HAVE to buy the FR-S because Chris Harris loves it and hates the Miata

      • 0 avatar
        Speed Spaniel

        Actually Derek, you’re comments had tremendous influence on the MX-5 purchase and got me into the Mazda dealer in the first place. You should get a kickback from Mazda! I’m hoping to be indebted to you. : ) BTW – do I refer to it as a Miata or an MX-5??

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        “You HAVE to buy the FR-S because Chris Harris loves it and hates the Miata”

        News reports are coming out stating that Chris Harris put Chuck Norris into a coma after finding out that Norris expressed a negative impression of a test drive he took of a FR-S.

    • 0 avatar

      Can you discuss the pricing on your Miata?

      Congrats, BTW!

      • 0 avatar
        Speed Spaniel

        Thanks for the congrats. You should be able to negotiate 16.5% off MSRP on a grand touring fully optioned (not an auto trans). It took me a couple of weeks to get that price and I negotiated by e mail to get everything in writing. I did it in reverse order – I negotiated the price first then drove the car this weekend certain I would like it and to avoid any emotional decisions. It was a ‘meh’ purchase experience. In the vast array of new cars I’ve owned Honda and Toyota the best. BMW and Infiniti remain the worse. Most comical, VW -there’s something funny about a cheesy sweaty sales manager, a shiny gold Rolex watch and desperate on the knees pleas to purchase an extended warranty because his boss will fire him if he doesn’t sell it. I actually thought I was being Punk’d and was looking for hidden cameras.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    You put a friggin soda bottle on the paint of that car, damn you. No wonder rental cars look like crap. Ain’t mine.. yuk yuk heh heh.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Nice review Murilee – the best of the FR-S I have read so far.

  • avatar
    Dingleberrypiez

    Dead Kennedys is a poor replacement for Ant Banks at a Coliseum tailgate party.

  • avatar
    racingmaniac

    I think you have some correction to make, the stereo, if the pictures are correct, is Pioneer not Panasonic…

    Also how does “VSC Sport” makes it stiffer? AFAIK this doesn’t come with any kind of adjustable suspension, maybe it changes throttle calibration or steering wheel weighting or something…

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I’m impressed. All this time, I had been assuming that you owned a special camera that automatically turned paint into primer and rust, created simulated dash rot, and Photoshopped out random body parts. Yet this Toyota appears to be completely intact.

    I’m really not sure about the Bad Company, though. At least it wasn’t Foreigner.

  • avatar
    L'avventura

    ” the stiff, super-short-throw shifter and gargly boxer engine sound might as well have been swapped directly from my wife’s ’04 Subaru Outback. Once again, the FR-S feels more like a Fuji Heavy Industries product than a Toyota product.”

    The FR-S uses a Aisin RA62 short-throw 6-speed MT designed for FR cars. As we know, Aisin is a subsidiary of Toyota, so not Fuji Heavy Industries.

    The Aisin 6-speeds MT however are pretty ubiquitous in Japanese sports cars. The AZ6 is on everything from the MX5, RX8, S15 Silvias, to the S2000 and older Lexus IS.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Oh, the point about the Manny, Moe and Jack hose clamps resonated.

    True Story.

    Back in ’99 when Jacque Nasser-led Ford was about to re-introduce the D/EW98 T-Bird and Lincoln LS, days before Job 1, I was working for the Dual-exhaust system supplier.

    The exhaust system on a pre-production mule had failed a shaker test, where you put a car’s wheels on four gimbles and shake it up, down, and all around on three axes.

    So, Ford wanted rubber isolators installed to minimize the problem. This involves welding two S-shaped formed metal rod hangers to the frame, and two more..one welded to each muffler. The ends of the hanger rods would then be installed into corresponding holes on a rubber isolator, which would then ideally isolate the muffler from the lateral and vertical jouncing of driving.

    Only problem was, the supplier of the rod hangers was never told to put a rounded head on the hanger rods, which would HOLD the rod IN the isolator. It would take about 3 weeks for the rod supplier to get the tooling made to correct the problem. We were literally days from Job 1, mind.

    Our fix was to go to Pep Boys and buy some of those hose clamps and use them to secure the rods so they would not slide out of the isolators. Simple but ugly. We charged Ford like $5 apiece for the clamps and the labor to install them.

    So, the first 5,000 T-birds/Lincoln LS made went out with this Rube Goldberg fix on the exhausts.

    One can only imagine the horror of the owner of one of these $40k cars when they had it up on the hoist and saw that the exhaust system on their expensive Lincoln was held together with $0.25 cent hose clamps….

    MMmmmmmm. Good times.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      If true (and I have no reason to doubt you), that’s interesting, funny and sad, simultaneously.

      Interesting from a quick fix perspective given Ford’s a major player.

      Funny from a “things I would not have expected from a major manufacturer on their premium products” standpoint.

      And sad from a “loyal customers” (/sarc) of Ford/Lincoln were treated like dung.

  • avatar

    did murilee just review a car? a new car?

  • avatar

    can anyone explain to me (in simple english) how the honkboxes
    work and how they are tuned? thanks

    sundbyd2@gmail.com

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Basically, they mask the noise the air intake makes when you step on the gas really hard and you get to hear the engine rather than the fuel injectors and/or throttle body sucking in all that air.

      B&B, am I right? Close? In the ballpark?

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      My Layman’s understanding:

      For any given closed tube/intake/exhaust with air flowing through it, there will be a frequency it will resonate at, i.e. the various pressure waves going on in there will get in sync and naturally amplify. This will manifest itself as what might be called a “droning noise” over and above the normal intake and exhaust noises.

      The frequency that the intake/exhaust resonates/drones at is dependent on the length and volume of the system. Adding the “anti-honk” box adds volume to the system, to change the resonant frequency, and is an easy way to do so for the engineers. The idea is to tune the honk box volume to move the resonant frequency of the whole intake tract out of the range of possible conditions inside the intake.

      took the honk box off my WRX and then I put it right back on, I see why they did that.

      This is becoming popular now with aftermarket exhaust systems, which are known to “drone” in so many cases.

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      Power6 is close. He is right about the resonance of the intake (same principle applies to exhaust) and it works a lot like an organ pipe or a flute.

      A honk box or simple Helmholtz Resonator works with a very similar principle only instead of the flow going through it like in the intake pipe the flow of air goes across the inlet to the enclosed resonator box. This works exactly the same way as blowing across a bottle or jug. It will make a single frequency that is tuned by adjusting the volume of the chamber and the length and diameter of the opening neck.

      By tuning a Helmholtz resonator to the same frequency that the intake pipe resonates at and placing it properly off the side of the intake pipe (don’t remember if its at a node or antinode) the resonances will cancel each other out (destructive superposition) and the droning noise will not escape the intake tract.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    “The Detroit carmakers don’t really care if your sub-$30k car’s engine makes a noise like a seasick rhinoceros sometimes— just shoot some more insulation on the firewall, problem solved!”

    Very un-cool to paint Detroit with such a broad brush…Even the crappiest chryslers and jeeps had those stupid intake resonators from around 2000 and up…Don’t forget the the “first base” and home plate resonators of the 94-96 GM B and D Bodies. , etc. etc. ad naseum.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    With this review I have finally been able to rank my favorite reviewers on TTAC.

    1. Jack Baruth
    2. Murilee Martin
    3. Derek K
    4. Steven Lang
    5. Michael Karesh

  • avatar
    sastexan

    Actual FR-S owner. Few corrections to / comments about the review:
    - Pioneer stereo, not Panasonic
    - VSC Sport only controls the traction / stability control, partially defeating it; it has nothing to do with suspension, throttle response, steering, etc. (you can turn it all the way off too)
    - I thought worm gear clamps were superior to those awful spring clamps? What’s wrong with a worm gear clamp?
    - Lots of Toyota signs on the car as well – the key fob, the remote “beep” door lock confirmation, the clock on the dash
    - The stereo has fussy controls but it is fantastic for bluetooth streaming – connects quickly, resumes play, allows you to fast forward pandora from the head unit, telephone is good quality. In fact, it is better using BTA than using the iPod/iPhone cable.

    As far as the review is concerned, MM isn’t far off – it is fun, easy to rotate (partially with VSC or fully traction off), uncomplicated. I haven’t had an issue with reflection off the windshield (unlike my rental Passat this week while traveling, whose windshield is distorted at the edges – and we won’t even talk about all the quality issues of a 2 month old car with 2200 miles on it). An RX-8 is a little more fun – but used – and much higher maintenance (if you want the wankel to last). I think the FR-S has a slightly better ride than the RX-8 but I might mostly be comparing to the R3.

    All the chatter about FR-S vs Miata misses a major point – I doubt the two are cross-shopped that often – very different markets. The backseat is tiny, but it will take car seats (even rear facing) and the trunk actually holds luggage as MM points out. The Miata, with top up, FEELS smaller even than it is but the FR-S does not have that closed feeling around you. I’ve driven Miatas – all three generations – they are fun, no question about it, but serve a very different buyer. The Genesis Coupe is the closest competitor; maybe a Mustang V6 too (but such a different feel, despite, on paper, being comparable).

    • 0 avatar
      Jesse

      The problem with the cheese-grater style is that the rubber that it clamps bulges through those slots over time.

      There’s an alternative to the cheese-grater style, which is the same design but employs a flat band on the inner radius of the circle and teeth on the outside. This style is less detrimental to the rubber. Where this really matters is on rubber fuel hoses.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    So…..bored……..with………this ………..car.
    The next article I see about this thing I want to see it driven into a pole.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    This is easily the least derogatory and yet most damning review of the Toyobaru so far. Since the MX5 does exist, I’m not sure it has a market without a back seat.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Actually I’m happy to see those pep boys hose clamps, much easier to deal with later on and unlike the constant tension spring clamps they can work for a long time. I can’t count the number of cars that I’ve fixed the coolant leaks by replacing the spring clamps with the good old worm gear clamps. The also show that they are willing to spend the money to make it right the worm gear clamps cost them extra twice, both in the fact that they are more expensive to purchase and take more time to properly instal which costs them more in labor.

    • 0 avatar
      Jesse

      I think the point is that there is a slightly different design that doesn’t cut into the rubber as much over time. Looks something like this:

      http://forum.ih8mud.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=540544&stc=1&d=1311270907

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Here’s the thing about the back seat…It sucks but it is there. I have a Miata for my commuter. When my wife calls and says she has gotten held up and can’t pick up the kids, I drive home, get in my Land Cruiser, and go get the kids. Now take the Cruiser out of the equation. Maybe the kids only ride in my car once a month, but with a family of 4 it becomes pretty inconvienent to own the Miata. The kids can suck it up for a few minutes in the back of the FR-S…With the Miata one gets to suck it up walking. Someone with a family would be waaaay more likely to consider the FRS than the Miata. It’s obviously not the primary family hauler, but it can haul the family in a pinch. The Miata can’t.

  • avatar
    dotsonjoe

    Toyota has been using plastic headlight brackets for decades…look at this video on the 1999 Camry…plastic brackets: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8mc5_HmjJI&feature=share&list=UUsD7YXhIUr-bn4tSPcVqkHw

    I really like that you poke your head under the hood though, nobody does that anymore…good review…definitely need to drive it!


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