The Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ are an outgrowth of a Toyota Motor Corp.-Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. partnership to design a back-to-basics rear-wheel drive sports car. (Toyota has an ownership stake in FHI, which is the parent company of Subaru.) The cars are built off the same chassis and use the same four-cylinder boxer engine and fuel-injection system, but the FR-S debuts an industry-first infotainment technology.
Jack Hollis, Vice President of Scion, spoke with this SAE magazine reporter about the FR-S in advance of the car’s June 2012 debut in U.S. dealerships. Partial year sales in 2012 are expected at 10,000 units with 20,000 units projected in 2013, the first full year that the FR-S will be in the marketplace. “We’re very confident that demand is going to be high,” said Hollis.
Toyota and Subaru engineers developed the all-new boxer engine that powers the FR-S (and the Subaru BRZ). It is the first horizontally opposed 2.0-L four-cylinder to use Toyota’s next-generation D-4S fuel-injection system.
D-4S technology enables cylinder cooling and air-to-fuel mixture optimization by allowing a high compression ratio (12.5:1). For each cylinder, the direct fuel injector works independently or in combination with the port injector, which is located above the intake valves, to optimize combustion based on the driving conditions.
According to Tetsuya Tada, Chief Engineer of the Sports Vehicle Division at Toyota Motor Corp., the D-4S technology (adopted from the Lexus IS F high-performance sedan) helps enable the boxer engine to produce 200 hp (149 kW) at 7000 rpm (SAE net) and 151 lb·ft (204 N·m) between 6400-6600 rpm (SAE net), with ample torque at low rpm as well as linear power delivery up to the 7400-rpm redline.
“The engine size and layout, which allows for its midship location, also contributes greatly to the low center of gravity and excellent handling,” Scion FR-S Chief Engineer Tada said, noting the car’s front-to-rear ratio of 53:47.
When fitted with the six-speed manual transmission, the car’s curb mass is 2758 lb (1251 kg). With the six-speed automatic transmission, total curb mass is 2806 lb (1273 kg). The car is 166.7 in (4234 mm) long, 69.9 in (1775 mm) wide, and 50.6 in (1285 mm) tall on a 101.2-in (2593-mm) wheelbase.
“We took every opportunity to reduce vehicle mass, while maintaining body rigidity, and developed a number of parts to eliminate unnecessary weight,” Tada said.
The FR-S has an aluminum hood, an aluminum engine undercover, and the car’s 22-lb (10-kg) aluminum 17- x 7-in alloy wheels are the lightest OEM wheel in the Scion, Toyota, and Lexus lineup.
Helping to keep the 215/45R17 Michelin Primacy HP summer tires in road contact is the car’s MacPherson strut front suspension and a double wishbone rear suspension with an 18-mm (0.7-in) front stabilizer bar and a 14-mm (0.55-in) rear stabilizer bar.
The car’s electric power steering provides a 13:1 steering ratio, and the 14.4-in (365-mm) leather-trimmed, steering wheel is the smallest-diameter unit in the Toyota family.
In a first for a Scion branded vehicle, the FR-S uses reverse positioned L-shaped lower control arms (front/rear reversal) to enable the engine’s low position and to maintain the car’s low center of gravity.
The exhaust system’s low-profile layout includes an intermediate pipe positioned above the front suspension crossmember.
Other sports car features are a Torsen limited slip differential, front and rear ventilated disc brakes, and an automatic transmission that features paddle shifts and Dynamic Rev Management technology. This Scion-first application essentially raises the engine speed to help match engine revolutions to gear ratios on transmission downshifts.
When equipped with the automatic transmission, the car has estimated EPA mpg of 25 city and 34 highway. With the manual transmission, the estimated mpg is 22 city/30 highway.
FR-S occupants can keep tabs on friends and family via tweets of 140 characters or less thanks to another innovation.
“Scion is the first manufacturer to offer direct messaging via Twitter in-car using BeSpoke technology, which is our multimedia connected audio system. This cloud-based system also offers routing capabilities to selected friends, points of interest, or a selected point on the BeSpoke map for audible and/or visual instructions,” Scion’s Accessory Operations Manager Korey Tsuno told AEI during an April FR-S media preview in Nevada.
The visual interface for the BeSpoke Premium Audio System is a 5.8-in LCD thin-film transistor touch-screen display. Scion and Pioneer engineers developed the Apple device- and application-compatible BeSpoke system that is powered by Pioneer’s Zypr Web service platform, which provides voice-driven access to online services such as social media outlets, navigation, mapping, and weather.
An eight-speaker AM/FM/CD/USB 300-watt maximum output Pioneer audio system is standard on the FR-S. The system’s features include HD Radio technology and Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free and streaming audio capability.
Since the Scion brand is only sold in North America, the FR-S will be sold as the Toyota GT 86 in Europe and as the Toyota 86 in Japan.
“Scion is really an innovations laboratory," said Hollis. "Our goal with the FR-S is to have it out for a year, then we’ll see what we might want from this platform or from this [Subaru] collaboration. There is no specific plan.
“People have mentioned things like doing a convertible or adding a turbocharger, or adding pieces to this car. And, all of those things may or may not happen in due time. I think what you’re going to see is some derivatives come off this car, but that’s a ‘time will tell’ type of thing,” said Hollis.