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Engine, Exhaust, Transmission Discuss the FR-S | 86 | BRZ engine, exhaust and drivetrain.

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Old 05-27-2012, 09:42 PM   #1
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An hour with a Scion FRS automatic

An hour with a Scion FRS Automatic!




After spending about 15 minutes with an FRS manual about 3 weeks ago,
I had another opportunity of about an hour with a Scion FRS Automatic. This seemed like plenty of time to find out what is was like around town and out on the highway.


Seating is great. The seats are not only comfortable, but very side supportive at both the lumbar and the shoulders. No issues with the seatbelt(through the seat loops) rubbing on the neck.
Driver seat elevation allowed for good adjustability. I think they should have put the seat base elevation adjustment on the passenger side as well as this would have allowed for more rear seat passenger toe room. As a comparison I would say the Scion TC seats were very comfortable but not as side supportive as the FRS seats.


Everything on the dash was easily accessible, and the view out over the hood is excellent. I really like the front fender edges that kind of bracket your view and give solid reference points.


The side view mirror needed some getting used too as the housing top slopes down towards the outside edge which gives an odd perspective to the view. They were easily adjustable to allow the view to transition from rear view mirror to side view to peripheral, to support the limited shoulder check view.


Like any new car it sometimes takes a few minutes of driving to get used to the controls and result in smooth power train usage. The tachometer and the digital speedometer are the two main driving control gauges. There is other stuff to consult, but that will take more time to incorporate. The analog speedometer is pretty useless as any meaningful sweep of the dial is just not available from its large range.


I was not able to test with the electronic safety controls off for safety reasons.
The car handles really well. I was able to transition and balance the car between understeer and oversteer on the responsive throttle on highway on-ramps where you get some reasonable lateral acceleration. I found this quite different than front wheel drive. A Civic SI I recently tested had way too much understeer and it felt like the outside front tire was folding under the car. It was hard to shift weight onto the back wheels. I found weight transition with the Scion TC's more familiar and able steering to be better than the Civic SI. The FRS was a very nice balance and easily transitioned with its responsive throttle.


I didn't try straight automatic preferring to check out the paddle shifters. Not much time is spent in first gear as the car pulls reasonably well in 2nd.


Most city driving I would say is in the range of the lower bump on the torque curve. The automatic really liked working in 3rd gear for just driving along on city streets in the 50 to 70 kph range. With the paddles in manual you could shift up and down as much as you like regardless of the car speed. Some have mentioned the prevention of upshifts if the car is going too slow, but I never experienced that.


6th in the automatic is definitely for cruising on the flat, for both the manual and the automatic, and fifth does not provide much grunt on the highway for a long hill. Fourth seemed better for long uphill highway climbs.


The car did pull reasonably well in the 3200-4800rpm torque dip provided you were in the right gear for the speed.


Downshifts with the automatic were handled well, blipping the throttle even on noticeably(by engine note) extreme downshifts. With a bit more familiarity I think smoothing the up shifts and downshifts would be easily mastered to the seamlessness you can get with a manual.


I didn't test the upshift rev limiter, as the car was really low mileage. The sport shift setting was crisper.


The automatic does shift to first(automatically) at a stop when in the manual shift mode which is a good thing as you do not have to remember to downshift to first. First feels really low and would not say there was value in a manual paddle downshift to 1rst. But 3-2nd & 4-3rd downshifts felt good just like a manual and, once again with more familiarity, would give you that slight engine braking feel followed by the more important preparedness for the following acceleration away from the corner.


Trunk maximum height through the pass through was 13 inches while the trunk opening height was 15 inches.


All in all I was surprised that I enjoyed the FRS automatic. It was much better than a Veloster dual clutch automatic I had recently tested.


While the automatic has better fuel consumption, about 11%-12%(depending on which fuel economy numbers you use, U.S vs. Cdn) it would take about 5-10 years at 10,000 km per year just to pay off the difference in transmission cost at current fuel prices.


I like the car, however:



Deciding between the FRS automatic and the manual is now more of a tough choice! I'm just not finding a clear point that tips the balance for one over the other?

Last edited by smbrm; 05-28-2012 at 01:12 AM.
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Old 05-27-2012, 10:45 PM   #2
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Nice review!

I hate you, I haven't even seen a car yet and you've driven both an auto and a manual....???

I was able to drive a Mclaren MP4-12C this weekend, pretty sweet auto trans in that car.
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Old 05-28-2012, 02:45 PM   #3
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great review
thank you!
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Old 05-28-2012, 08:48 PM   #4
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I can't remember, is the FR-S manumatic control just like other Toyota's where the indicator is actually the "max gear allowed"? Or is it actually controlled gear upshifts?
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Old 05-28-2012, 09:30 PM   #5
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As far as I can remember, when I was in manual mode the gear number on the dash was the gear I was in.
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Old 05-28-2012, 10:29 PM   #6
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I can't remember, is the FR-S manumatic control just like other Toyota's where the indicator is actually the "max gear allowed"? Or is it actually controlled gear upshifts?
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As far as I can remember, when I was in manual mode the gear number on the dash was the gear I was in.
I'm not sure of the specifics, but I do believe it will downshift if necessary to prevent the revs from getting too low. It is, after all, a fancy automatic, and not a manual gearbox.
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Old 05-29-2012, 03:25 PM   #7
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Which dealership did you test drive it at?
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Old 05-29-2012, 03:28 PM   #8
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I'm not sure of the specifics, but I do believe it will downshift if necessary to prevent the revs from getting too low. It is, after all, a fancy automatic, and not a manual gearbox.
You are correct, but in full manual mode it doesn't do this until they are VERY low. My experience is it doesn't start shifting down until the revs are well below 2K when you have no torque in the gears.
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Old 05-29-2012, 06:56 PM   #9
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You are correct, but in full manual mode it doesn't do this until they are VERY low. My experience is it doesn't start shifting down until the revs are well below 2K when you have no torque in the gears.
By the way did you ever notice the actual lowest speed it lets you run the engine at? Most autos tend to shift down on their own a tiny bit above 1000rpm I think...
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Old 05-29-2012, 09:11 PM   #10
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By the way did you ever notice the actual lowest speed it lets you run the engine at? Most autos tend to shift down on their own a tiny bit above 1000rpm I think...
No sorry, I haven't noticed that and unfortunately won't be driving her again until Monday.
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Old 05-30-2012, 10:23 AM   #11
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The gear displayed is the gear you are in. I spent about 30 minutes driving the auto.

Manual mode + sport mode is sick. I have been driving manuals for over 20 years and I can shift fairly quickly (under 0.4 seconds if I'm not tryign to protect the syncros) but the auto STILL kicks my butt in the shift time department. It also lets you downshift into amazingly high rev zones compared to most other autos, it does NOT automatically upshift on you. Best auto I have ever driven outside of the IS-F, and even there I think I may have liked this one just as well or better.
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:13 PM   #12
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I'll have to ask the question... if I don't care about being ~1 sec slower in 0-60 times, don't care too much for clutching & rowing if I can simply tap paddles, and don't care about traditional MT "control & feel", then the FR-S AT will shift (up and down) just as fast and willing as 90% of stick-shift drivers?
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Old 12-03-2012, 09:56 PM   #13
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An auto will shift faster than anyone can shift a manual. I personally can't stand driving an automatic, but the gearbox in the auto FR-S is actually really good as far as auto's go.
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Old 12-04-2012, 05:34 AM   #14
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I'll have to ask the question... if I don't care about being ~1 sec slower in 0-60 times, don't care too much for clutching & rowing if I can simply tap paddles, and don't care about traditional MT "control & feel", then the FR-S AT will shift (up and down) just as fast and willing as 90% of stick-shift drivers?
Better control of the car with manual. If your getting this car you should be getting manual.
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Old 12-04-2012, 07:57 AM   #15
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Better control of the car with manual. If your getting this car you should be getting manual.
You should go into business telling people what to do; you'd make a killing
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Old 12-04-2012, 08:39 AM   #16
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I'm of the group who believe sports cars shouldn't come in automatic. I want the acceleration, control, and feel of a car designed around control and feel. 5th isn't useless in the manual and does provide easy passing power on the hwy. Not to mention most mods will be compatible with manual before automatic (if at all).
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Old 12-05-2012, 08:18 AM   #17
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I'm of the group who believe sports cars shouldn't come in automatic. I want the acceleration, control, and feel of a car designed around control and feel. 5th isn't useless in the manual and does provide easy passing power on the hwy. Not to mention most mods will be compatible with manual before automatic (if at all).
I remain neutral on the whole manual vs. automatic thing because I think that it is really up to the owner to decide.

For myself, I can drive both. When I was dd'ing my old swapped accord, sometimes I wished I had an auto. When I got my tC, sometimes I wish I had a manual (though a valve body from IPT makes the auto shift a lot better). Regardless of what car you get, I think there will always be a question of what would it have been if I had gotten ____ transmission instead. There's benefits to both.
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Old 12-05-2012, 08:32 AM   #18
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I remain neutral on the whole manual vs. automatic thing because I think that it is really up to the owner to decide.

For myself, I can drive both. When I was dd'ing my old swapped accord, sometimes I wished I had an auto. When I got my tC, sometimes I wish I had a manual (though a valve body from IPT makes the auto shift a lot better). Regardless of what car you get, I think there will always be a question of what would it have been if I had gotten ____ transmission instead. There's benefits to both.
I get insanely bored driving an automatic. I haven't owned an automatic car since 2000. So while a lot of people may contemplate "what if"... I flat out refuse to buy one.

Now, there are definitely some people who NEED to drive an auto...for the safety of everyone around them. At least until the cars that drive themselves are developed...
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Old 12-05-2012, 08:35 AM   #19
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I get insanely bored driving an automatic. I haven't owned an automatic car since 2000. So while a lot of people may contemplate "what if"... I flat out refuse to buy one.

Now, there are definitely some people who NEED to drive an auto...for the safety of everyone around them. At least until the cars that drive themselves are developed...
Lol. This is true. Though there are some people who really shouldn't have a drivers license. But that's an offtopic issue. ha ha.
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