By on June 2, 2012

Will the Scion FR-S drift? My opinion could be summed up as: who cares? Drifting ain’t fast, yo.

Consumer Reports, however, has decided to answer this question with the same diligence they usually reserve for toaster duty-cycle measurement. In the above video Jake Fisher handbrakes his way to glory in the little Toyobaru. This is a sequel to a similar, and well-received, Subaru BR-Z test.

If nothing else, the video buries the image long-cultivated by Car and Driver, among others, that the CR guys are a bunch of lab-coat dipsticks who are too busy compiling reliability data to have any fun.

TTAC will have an FR-S track test video coming up in the next few weeks. Don’t look for me to showboat the car. For that, apparently, you’ll need to visit America’s most-respected consumer advocacy publication.

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44 Comments on “Consumer Reports Delivers The Tofu...”


  • avatar
    redav

    Watching that video make me think it can’t take a turn without losing the back end.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    It’s too late JB, all the ‘nozzles in the audience think drifting is handling. Being smooth, looking ahead, feeling for grip, what’s that compared to the comedy stylings of Jeremy Clarkson?

  • avatar
    vagvoba

    “Drifting ain’t fast, yo.”

    For me personally going fast is not fun either. I never felt the urge to drive at 120 or 200MPH.
    I don’t understand the argument between go-fast people and drifting people. In my view some have fun this way, others have fun a different way. If you can entertain yourself by drifting, good for you. If speed gives you the boner, the same goes for you.

    For me what is important it to feel connected to the road and the mechanical parts of the car. I love the feel of gears connecting, disconnecting under my touch. Love when I can feel all the normal vibrations of the engine and the chassis on the gear lever and the steering wheel. Also love to hear the sound of the engine, the way it struggles with physics. I will never drive on track, but I still want to enjoy driving legally on public roads. I’ve driven many different cars, but for me tuned-up family cars with big tires and big engines just don’t cut it, even if they are sporty BMWs (short of the M series). They are almost as numb as their mainstream siblings.

    On the other hand, purpose build sport cars are awesome. And since I’m on a budget, I have a feeling that the Toyobaru was designed just for me.

    • 0 avatar
      Spencer Williams

      Well said. Kicking the rear end out may not always be the most efficient way to take a corner, but unless you’re actually in a race, who cares? Have fun with your car, however that may be.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    I can see it now, CR dudes at the buffet line with the other publications: “Can’t drift, huh? Happens to a lot of guys.”

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    The style of this video hardly represents the tone of the publication. I still can recall reading: “…at CR, gas mileage is far more important that acceleration. However a car must have enough zip to merge safely….” or something like that. But if I worked for CR, I’d be like this guy, but I think I’ll keep it off the grass…And now, back to who’s D batteries last the longest…

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Lol! Poor attempt to reestablish itself within the autodome.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    Maybe CR is only targeting the car’s target audience. The people for whom the FRS is intended are not your typical CR reader; perhaps this is what the magazine feels is the car’s intended purpose, and how the car will be used.

    • 0 avatar
      Slab

      That’s exactly my take as well. For this car, it doesn’t matter how easy it is to install a child seat, or how many bags of groceries fit in the trunk.

    • 0 avatar
      Wunsch

      This car’s intended purpose is to have fun. So Consumer Reports dutifully tests how much fun they can have with it. It makes perfect sense to me.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      It’s be nice if CR would use the same approach with the Jeep Wrangler instead of condemning it for “rough ride quality and poor on-road handling”. Try testing it off-road where it comes into it’s own and you begin to understand why it uses an ancient recirculating-ball steering gear.

      • 0 avatar

        Well, if I’m honest most of the new Wranglers I see are purchased purely for soccer moms to drive around in malls, so their choice to measure for those attributes makes sense. And besides, they do have an off-road course that they test all CUV/SUVs on, it just so happens that the Wrangler can handle much more than that course requires.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      Yeah, I think they captured the essence of this car beautifully. They didn’t try shopping at IKEA, or dragging a Mustang, fret over the back seat headroom, or compare the mileage to the new Prius hatch.

      They got in and had some fun, suggesting the car has hit its target perfectly. I’m looking forward to driving one of these.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    Giving the devil his due, CU’s car coverage really is a lot less bad than it was 10 or 15 years ago. This is not a coincidence; they had some relic whose name I forget in charge of the car operation, and when he finally retired or decomposed or something, the improvement under his successor was huge and immediately noticeable.

    (Yes, I am a longtime subscriber. With a nod to Michael’s True Delta, their reliability data is still vastly more useful than the stupid first-90-days data from the likes of JD Power.)

    • 0 avatar
      LeeK

      As a thirty year subscriber, I have to agree that their reviews have gotten a lot less stuffy and more relevant. But their copy writers have got to find new ways to describe cars without using their favorite worn out phrases like “supple ride” and “agile handling”.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      I’ve always liked CR as a sort of baseline to determine which cars are better than others. They’re not an enthusiast magazine, but that means they’re free from the advertising pressures and manufacturer pampering that goes on elsewhere. Their road tests therefore are probably the most dispassionate and unbiased out there, though they’re also a bit sterile.

      Of course their generally nonenthusiast-oriented scoring method tends to favor forgettable all-rounders like the Camry or Corolla over more brilliant but flawed cars (some European and American cars fall victim to this). But they’re a damn sight better than Car & Driver or *shudder* Motor Trend.

  • avatar
    Syke

    OMFG! Consumer’s Reports treating a car as something more than a transportation appliance? Wonder how long these guys are going to keep their jobs.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      They have been for years…if you have bothered to really pay attention. CR judges cars based on their intended purpose and grades them appropriately. You won’t see them racing a minivan around their track but there are a whole host of videos on their site showing them hooning it up with CTS-Vs, GTIs, Corvettes, Mustangs, etc…

  • avatar
    Quentin

    Saw the FR-S in person today (and sat in it at the dealer). It looks fantastic. The interior fits like a glove and is no-nonsense. I will have this car some day. Love it. It splits the difference between an MX-5 and an S2000 but has a fixed roof. Exactly what I wanted.

  • avatar
    karlbonde

    I still have not seen or driven one yet, but I made up my mind last week that I am going to purchase one. I like the fixed roof, as you mention above. Convertibles aren’t my style: their lack of rigidity bothers me, and they will get limited top-down use in Portland, Oregon.

    I’ve always bought used cars, and briefly flirted with a new 2010 GTI, but I’m not going to wait for a used FR-S. The FR-S has a standard Torsen differential, as well the ability to shut off the traction/stability control – things that the GTI lacks. My MKIV VR6 was frustrating due to the lack of both of the above – especially in wet/snowy weather.

    I was otherwise contemplating older European sedans like a E39 M5, W210 E55, Benz C43, B6 Audi S4, and maybe even an early Boxster S, but I’ll be willing to give up the torque and high horsepower for the sake of something fun – in the spirit of the first GTI or BMW 2002. Additionally, now I will not have to worry about the Audi’s timing chain failing, or the Boxster’s IMS, or the MB’s 100k transmission life expectancy, etc.

    FR-S in the “whiteout” color – I will have one soon, and I cannot wait!

  • avatar
    WheelMcCoy

    CR nailed the essence of the FRS / BRZ. Bravo.

    But the video got me thinking. What if TTAC reviewed appliances?

    – Junkyard Find would be littered with Feders, WhirlPools, and GEs.
    – Piston Slap would become Freezer Burn.
    – Brendan would compare microwave ovens to gamma-wave ovens.
    – Jack would review fans and wonder why all manufacturers bother to put in a slow setting.

    And of course, the readership would complain that Maytag makes bland appliances and have lost their way, while the fan-bois would argue that “Maytags are drop-dead RELIABLE!”

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      That’s pretty funny…My Toyota, I mean Maytag dryer was built in 1971 and still works!! If there was ever a sad story of mismanagement and greed ruining a prized reputation, Maytag is it. And the Toyota comparison is spot-on. Maytag products commanded a price premium and people had no problem paying it because they knew the machine they bought would last decades. All I have changed is the timer, belts, and the heating element. Funny to note is that one of the dryer belts sold today with the correct Maytag number is a bit longer than the original. I guess they made a running change. I had to remount the motor an inch over to get the proper spring loaded tension…Glad my folks bought Maytags not Sears crap.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I suspect there will be lots of BR-Z and FR-S vehicles…in the scrap yard after being hooned. I get what they are trying to do int his video but this is being driven by someone that probably has a lot more skill than the average hey I sat in drivers ed for 10 hours and drove a car around for 6 more and got a driver’s license so I know what I’m doing types, which is about 98% of drivers on the road.

    Nothing wrong with a slight tendency to oversteer, I love cars that are balanced that way. The BR-Z / FR-S doesn’t look very forgiving in unskilled hands. It’s one thing to go into the weeds on a test track literally, it’s another on an on ramp surrounded by guard rails and/or curbs.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      By this logic, junkyards should be littered with Mustangs, WRXs, S2000s etc. Not the case. Barring complete destruction, modern cars, even performance cars that get ragged on, are pretty resilient. I would have no qualms buying any of these cars with a salvage title or even a replaced motor. They are built to get beaten on; why would beating on them end their runs early?

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I grew up reading CU, my folks had and still have to this day a subscription. Being a car geek the 1st thing I would turn to is the auto reviews. They always stressed safety, functionality, reliability and ergonomics; the stuff John-Q public cared about. For example when they tested station wagons, P/U’s or utility vehicles they would use the 4X8 plywood sheet and a tubular adjustable box as a measurement for cargo capibility. Occasionally they did test sports cars like the Mustang, Camaros etc. But rarely hi-performance vehicles such as Porsche or Corvette’s though in recent years the Miata, Boxster and Corvette have earned their check mark recommendation; quite impressive. Maybe the staff there is channelling their inner Road and Track.

  • avatar
    Les

    Was I the only one who secretly believed (largely because of Ralph Nader’s politics) that deep down, though they’d never admit it, Consumer Reports actually Hated cars?

  • avatar
    skotastic

    Am I the only one who isn’t going ga-ga for the new Toybaru?

    I have nothing against it and I hope it does well, but its hardly the only sporting rear-wheel drive car ever made! The lines are clean but offer nothing really new or interesting, and will soon be cluttered with gobs of ricer after-market go-fast crap anyways.

    Is it interesting soley because it comes from the world’s most boring car maker, partnered with a company that’s been trying really hard to catch up in the boring race?

    Is it all fanboi/internet/auto-journalist hype? Just curious….

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Definitely over hyped. Especially when it comes to performance results as Pobst hauled around a V6 Mustang one and half seconds faster than this car. Yes, a V6 not a V8.

      The car is a joke!

      • 0 avatar
        JuniperBug

        My Miata is outrun in a straight line by most minivans and I absolutely love it.

        If you don’t understand this, you don’t understand the point of a car like this. Do you rag on guys who buy a Duc Monster because your SV is just as fast, too?

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        I’ve owned a Ducati and don’t miss the maintenance bill. The SV won’t out handle the Duc, but it will a Harley.

        Not sure how many will be boasting about hauling four of their hairdresser friends in this car.

        It’s more about balance of handling, braking, and power. Reduce the power and even a race car driver is slow. Figure in lessor hands the the deficit to Mustang to go more than double. There is reason seasoned drivers like Baruth don’t say much about this car, it’d go against the hype.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        @NormSV650
        I believe Jack is still in line waiting to buy an FR-S or BRZ. At least I know he tried to be one of the first few to get one and was denied.

      • 0 avatar
        JuniperBug

        On the street slow can be fun. I downgraded from a TL1000S to a VFR800 to a Miata for exactly that reason. On the street, 0-125 in 10 seconds just means you spend more time risking life and licence. If you can have fun in a slow car you can have fun more of the time. The sport bikes were boring at slow speed; the Miata is not. And it’s not just the handling prowess. The car is communicative, the driver sits in the right place relative to the wheelbase. The short gearing and snickety shifter keep you entertained despite the absence of stellar acceleration. I’m sure you’re right that a 300 hp Mustang is faster around a track than a Toyobaru despite its less polished handling. That really isn’t the point to cars like this. It’s about the experience, and not about getting from A to B faster. In fact, cars like this are supposed to encourage taking the long way to get where you’re going. Witness Toyota’s intentional fitting of less grippy tires. Mazda claimed they intentionally gave the Miata less grip than they could have so it would be easier and safer to play with its limits on the street. Is that sort of car for everyone? No, but that doesn’t make it a joke.

        I’ve had a number of people make fun of my Miata – doing so is part of Miata ownership as a heterosexual male and thankfully keeps the ricer kids away from it – but no one has denied that it’s a fun ride after driving in it. The Toyobaru I think will be much the same but with slightly higher limits and less body flex.

      • 0 avatar
        daiheadjai

        Did you even bother to read Pobst’s thoughts on the cars?
        And his rankings for the cars in the recent comparo?

        Hint: The Mustang beat the BRZ/FRS on the track in strictly numbers.
        But that was it. Satisfaction and the final rankings all saw the wheezy 4-banger ricemobiles trounce the Mustang.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        I’ve talked with Randy a number of times and I am also HPDE instructor. A novice is not going to get the most out of low output car compared to higher output car. Of course power does tend to cover up other deficiencies, it does take an experienced driver in a lower output car.

        If your into autocrossing ask a VTEC owners how difficult it is to stay in VTEC?

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      It’s about the novelty of it’s intentions.

      Most sports-cars are either Big McLarge-Huge and obsessed with producing the most ‘POWAAAAAH’ and sporting the latest electronic wizardry to try and stop you from killing yourself with all that ‘POWAAAAAAH’…

      …or if they’re small and light, are front-wheel drive ‘hot-hatchbacks’.

      The Toybaru is unique in the market today for being small, lightweight, rear-wheel drive, offered at a reasonable price-point and (It is claimed) emphasizing driving enjoyment over having the most impressive stat-sheet.

      Edit: Oh, almost forgot.. it’s also been noted for having a bare minimum of electronic driving-aids, which goes against the trend of more and more sophisticated traction-control systems which enthusiasts seem to hate.

      Basically, as has been stated elsewhere, it’s a four-seat hardtop Miata.. and who doesn’t like the Miata?

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Took delivery of an automatic FRS last week and so far, it has lived up to my expectations and then some. I am waiting for the break in period to expire to take it out on a local track, I know the manager and he’ll let me use it for a bit of fun.

  • avatar
    cman321

    how is the this car any different than the rx8. both cars won every review bc of great feel, balance, lightness and fun to drive quotient. But in real world, with absolutely no torque, nobody bought the rx8 after year 1.

    I do know the bad gas mileage and rotary issues are also a big probalem which this car doesn’t have.

    but no power except at redline, lots of road noise, stiff ride, no room would seemingly make this car less appealiing to the majority of buyers who buy cars for daily driving

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      People bought a lot of RX8s when they first came out. The killer was the rotary issues. This is an RX8 w/o the rotary issues (or a legit back seat).

      I had an H22 powered Accord that made maybe 210 HP at the crank, and was stripped down to prob 2700-2800lbs. W/an LSD it handled pretty nicely. Aside from all the other issues I had with it it was easily the most fun car I owned. This is in the same realm of performance, but w/a balanced RWD chassis. I don’t see the problem. Everyone is yelling and screaming about it not being as fast as a Mustang. But its also a good 600lb lighter. No matter what you do to a Mustang it will never have the same feel/feedback, which is the whole point.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    Now if we could just get the ‘enthusiast’ car magazines to learn to review ‘appliance cars’ in a non-enthusiastic way. Nobody shopping for a CUV or Corolla gives a rat’s ass about ‘terminal understeer’ or ‘the lack of on center feel’. It’s all about features, roominess and fuel economy.

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