On paper, the Scion FR-S is a great little performance car with its light curb weight, peppy engine and rear-wheel-drive layout, but as Road & Track recently found out about the car, none of that matters on the track if you have the wrong tires. The magazine's staffers found the Scion and Subaru cars were out-handled by competitors like the Mazda Miata and Hyundai Genesis Coupe, so they tried a simple tire swap on the FR-S to see if replacing the stock rubber with something with a bit more grip could help the matter.

In stock form, both the BRZ and FR-S come with Michelin Primacy summer touring tires, which are apparently tuned more for low rolling resistance than grip. Now, we're sure there will be plenty of FR-S and BRZ owners who will never take their cars to a track, so these stock tires help to optimize fuel economy and longevity, but for those who do want to have some autocross fun with their new Toyobaru coupe, then what?

R&T took an FR-S to Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch with three wheel and tire combinations, and put the car up against a MazdaSpeed3 and a Subaru WRX. First up were the stock tires, which put it almost two seconds behind the Mazda and a second behind the Subaru with a lap time of 1:29.3. Next, the car's 17-inch wheels were wrapped in Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 Star Specs extreme performance summer tires, shaving a full two seconds off the FR-S' track time and making it the fastest of the bunch with a time of 1:27.0. Finally, they tested the FR-S with the same type of tires on lightweight 18-inch wheels, but while the time around the track dipped a little (1:27.6), this wheel and tire combination was the best on the skidpad with a 0.96g.

An interesting note, the Dunlops are obviously much stickier and they cost less than the Michelins, but since they are built for performance, there is no treadlife warranty (according to Tire Rack, where R&T got their tires and prices). Meanwhile, the stock Michelin tires aren't as capable at the track, but they come with a treadlife warranty of up to six years or 45,000 miles.

Check out how the different tires affect the FR-S in the video below.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 133 Comments
      Rob J
      • 2 Years Ago
      Having seen many Miatas and S2000s with class 1 hitches and lights trailers loaded with 4 tires on board on there way to the track, im sure the BRZ/FR-S will be no different.
        Sean Flanagan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rob J
        Except the FR-S/BRZ was designed to carry those on-board with the rear seats folded down. They anticipated people swapping the wheel/tire package for the track.
      brgtlm
      • 2 Years Ago
      Well the basic premise of this test is that tires matter and there is generally a tradeoff between treadlife/rolling resistance and sticky high-performance summer tires. Duh. And also that larger rims may look better but are generally tougher to get rolling than smaller rims. Double duh. That said - it is too bad that both Subaru and Toyota both stuck the same mediocre time on a great car without even giving an option to get better summer tires. What would have been more interesting was to put the same Dunlop tires on all three cars and then see the lap and skidpad order.
      Schadenfreude
      • 2 Years Ago
      Michelin Pilot Super Sports!
      Termin8
      • 2 Years Ago
      Am I expected to believe that ANYONE actually weighs and measures the on-track value of their wheel/tire purchases? Ok, call it a sweeping generalization but, I'm VERY sure the percentage of buyers out there who do, are VERY small. As someone who's been modifying cars and bikes for well over 30 years, I can tell you that when you find someone who actually uses a proper methodology when modifying a car or bike, you've got a rare person. It's been my experience that most people who honestly modify for anything beyond pure aesthetics still have a very poor methodology for choosing said mods. Not that I disagree with anything in the article, I just think the percentage of people out there who actually understand or care is quite low.
        Mike Fernandez
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Termin8
        Thanks for adding pointless commentary. I'd disagree with you, any track minded individual will put on mods to see benefits. Being a member of many track clubs and forums, I read over and over again about the performance of tires on decreasing lap times. Now, to your point there are MORE people who simply buy wheels for aesthetics but they aren't the ones at the track. Also tires usually aren't purchased for aesthetics.
        Shanti
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Termin8
        @Termin8: Well isn't that the point of this video? To better inform people on where they should spend their money when looking for performance gains? Heck, did they not explicitly state that in the video?
      SSiR
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Z1 Star Specs are an awsome tire. Very sticky but also very stable when cornering with the sidwalls not getting very "squishy". The only bad thing is that they do wear quickly. I only got laround 15k miles on them with my Accord 6MT I then switched to some Hankook V12s as they have a higher wear rating (and are cheaper) and was really disappointed by how much less stable the Hankooks were compared to the Z1s. Will go back to the Dulops when the V12s wear out.
        AP1_S2K
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SSiR
        yea, i also loved the star specs, but even better I liked the Goodyear F1GSd3's in regards to wear/performance.
      antsalan
      • 2 Years Ago
      I haven't yet read the article, but the post didn't mention whether or not the MazdaSpeed3 and the Subaru WRX got to try the same tires, and would their times also improve?
      luigi.tony
      • 2 Years Ago
      http://www.autoguide.com/car-comparisons/2013-subaru-brz-vs-2012-honda-civic-si-hfp-2165.html They got to something to improve the performance, the Civic Si is beating in on the track.
      Thipps
      • 2 Years Ago
      is it possible they put bad tires on the car so you could throw it around more? (fun factor to get praise from the media)
        David Donovan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Thipps
        Probably. With it's tq seriously lacking they needed to find a way to make it more fun to drive since the DOT wouldn't let them sell it with balding tires.
      ilmhmtu
      • 2 Years Ago
      Can you buy these Dunlops anywhere but TireRack? If not, we may have just found out why this video was really made.
        Scr
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ilmhmtu
        Any Goodyear store should be able to get them for you, as Dunlop along with Kelly are Goodyear brands.
      J
      • 2 Years Ago
      Newsflash: not only is unsprung weight bad, but sticky tires help you corner better. Stay tuned next week, when R&T asks "would adding a turbo to this car make it accelerate faster?"
        bobmarley
        • 2 Years Ago
        @J
        calm down this car has been criticized for its stock "prius tires" so this just gave people an idea of how it will perform with better tires...I could see how some people would like to know this
          David Donovan
          • 2 Years Ago
          @bobmarley
          So lemme get this straight.......people are complaining about how crappy the stock tires on the car are yet they're amazed that when you put on better tires you get better performance? If that's the case I'm glad to not be apart of a car community that is as clueless as them if they're actually wondering if this is true or not.
      Moreno636
      • 2 Years Ago
      Putting on sticky ultra performance tires drops lap times.....in other news the sky is blue. The Genesis Coupe 2.0T R-Spec absolutely destroys this car in ever possible metric. The most over hyped car in the past decade.
        Slizzo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Moreno636
        I think it's been said pretty much everywhere that Toyota/Subaru weren't going for a fast cheap light car, they were going for a FUN car. All the reviews I have seen have said it's a FUN car to drive. I think Chris Harris has said it best in his two tests of the car.
          David Donovan
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Slizzo
          Well there's a difference with these comparison tests where they want to find out what is the best under 25k sports coupe yet the BRZ loses every performance category but wins the test because "it feels better". Worst. Decision. Ever.
        ryanandrewmartin
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Moreno636
        Only a Hyundai fanboy would say that. The Genesis is a great car but aside from some numbers, it does NOT "absolutely destroy" the FR-S.
          Moreno636
          • 2 Years Ago
          @ryanandrewmartin
          In every conceivable metric...that means in every possible manner. Its faster in straight line, around a track, around a slalom whatever. It has far more room and can actually be used as a day to day driver. So again what does the FR-S/BRZ do better??
          David Donovan
          • 2 Years Ago
          @ryanandrewmartin
          Ummm.....ryan in what ways does the BRZ/FRS beat the Genesis Coupe? Genesis costs less, has a better warranty, gets better fuel mileage, is a better performance vehicle in every way (since you know.....you are buying a performance vehicle and all), and has more useable space. So in what way does a BRZ/FRS actually beat the Genesis Coupe. Don't worry......I'll wait for your response.
      omegaslast
      • 2 Years Ago
      Idiotic comparison, star specs are incredibly sticky low tread life tires. To compare that to a summer tire on the wrx and mazdaspeed 3 is asinine. Equip all 3 with star spec or gtfo..
        Shanti
        • 2 Years Ago
        @omegaslast
        You missed the point of the video. It wasn't a comparison between the three cars, it was a quantified demonstration of how much tires can make a difference. As such, their point was better made by leaving stock tires on the other two cars, which were originally faster. Moral of the story? Car A, slower in stock form than car B and car C, is now faster than car B & C just by switching the tires.
          Termin8
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Shanti
          Actually, I think having the other cars in the video only confused the issue. The other cars actually have ZERO to do with the point of the test.
    • Load More Comments