I finally got around to taking my daily driver Scion FR-S to a track day. This car is regularly compared to the S2000 so I figured I would give my thoughts/opinions on how the two compare and which is the better car. Initially I thought I would compare the two only on track, but I want to give my insight on how both fare as a daily driver as well.
I have owned my AP1 S2000 since 2011 and daily drove it completely stock for at least 5 years. I tracked and autocrossed it stock as well so I think I have a fair gauge on it’s capabilities. I also took the car to the Tail of the Dragon several times. This past weekend at NYST S2KTakeover I also drove my student’s stock AP2 and it really reminded me of just how capable these cars were stock.
Here is a picture of my car at the dragon from 2014.
The FR-S I bought around a year ago now. It currently has 30,000 miles and is a 2014 model. It only has one modification on it being Feal 441+ Coilovers. I bought the car with lowering springs installed so I swapped them out for the coilovers. Other than that, the car is completely stock. Tires were 245/40/17 square Hankook V12 Evo’s and Powerstop track day pads.
The track day I attended with the FR-S was at NASA Mid-Ohio, running in the HPDE4 group. It is quite obvious that the car lacks power compared to the S2000, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is not capable. My initial reaction was how easily the car was to drive. I’m used to the S2000 being super edgy and on rails, but this was quite the opposite. The car definitely tends to understeer, whereas I don’t think I’ve ever felt understeer on my S2000. I felt push on almost every corner, except the sweeping turn 1 and turn 11 being high speed corners. The car definitely started to rotate a bit more at high speeds, which is the opposite of what my driving style likes. I prefer low speed oversteer and high speed understeer if I could have my choice.
The steering feedback is better in the FR-S, which makes sense since it’s a decade newer. The stock seats were also very capable and I never felt like I was moving around a lot. I have a Sparco Circuit in the S2000 so I was expecting to feel like I would barrel around. The stock brakes were also awesome. I had ATE 200 fluid and Powerstop pads installed, and I only felt fade at the end of sessions. Mid-Ohio also only really has one tough braking zone so I’m not sure if I could give an accurate review of the brakes at this point. From what I felt, they seem very capable and do not need to be upgraded.
Being a momentum car, the car did feel slow on any sort of straight-away. However, the S2000 has never felt like it needed more power to me. I find it to be the perfect blend of speed. It’s fast enough to be able to embarrass other cars, but slow enough that it’s not going to get you killed if you run out of talent. I find the FR-S to be slightly outside of that fast enough threshold and do wish it had a little bit more to give.
Here are some sweet track shots:
With all that said, I was super surprised that I did a 1:47.x with the FR-S. The TT5 winning times were in the 1:40ish range and I am sure I could have done that if I was also on Hoosiers and actually prepped the car. When I got home I immediately ordered new sway bars to be able to adjust the balance. If I could dial out some of the understeer and get this car to rotate it would be a monster.
I may be a bit biased being a diehard S2000 fan, but I do find the S2000 more fun in almost every way. On track it is way more fun, but also much harder to drive fast. On the street it is way more fun since it is a convertible, but also much louder. The gearing on the FR-S is also much better suited for a daily driver. It feels snappy and has low-end torque. I am a big ND Miata fan and am already planning on how to get on in the garage, only for the reasons that I like to daily drive a convertible.
The one big thing that I think the FR-S has over the S2000 is the back seats. I am a roadster guy through and through. I never have people in my backseats, but the ability to bring an extra set of tires to the track is HUGE. I have Hoosiers at home for the S2000, but still haven’t run them because I don’t have a way to transport them to the track (I don’t have a truck/trailer). I fit 4 loose tires and 4 loose wheels in the FR-S without even touching my driver’s seat. I can fit 4 track wheels, my jack, tools, and luggage for a track weekend in the FR-S without compromising me or the passenger. I am very envious of that fact and I think it is a big thing to consider if you’re cross shopping these cars.
Both are awesome cars. If I could have one, it would take me about 2 seconds to pick the S2000, but the FR-S is truly great and I love it as a daily/occasional track car. Here’s a video of one of my laps from Mid-Ohio for you guys to enjoy.