Ann Arbor, Michigan — Since the Scion FR-S debuted, people have tried to milk more power out of it. FR-S owner Mark Sanew loved his car’s balanced chassis and handsome bodywork but bemoaned its straight-line shortcomings. “I lost a drag race to a Ford F-250,” he admits. Yeah, that hurts.
Adding punch to the 200-hp engine while maintaining the car’s cheap-fun raison d’être means no pricey professional tuner, no powertrain swap, and no upsetting the neutral handling with an erratic turbo. Sanew instead chose an off-the-shelf Vortech supercharger kit for its smooth and linear power delivery. A recalibrated Perrin Performance ECU completes his $5150 home-baked package.
We pull up to a stoplight, shift into first, build the revs, and come off the clutch when the light changes. The 85-hp bump is generous but doesn’t turn the FR-S into a quarter-mile king. First-gear acceleration feels like that of a V-6 Ford Mustang — not snap-your-neck quick but way better than stock. Supercharger whine and blow-off-valve noises help mask the boxer’s metallic clatter. Touch the rev limiter at just past 7000 rpm, grab second, and the FR-S keeps accelerating like it has extra cylinders.
Do we prefer this Scion to stock? Yes. Do we think it’s a performance upgrade worth five grand over sticker? Not really; that price is in Nissan 370Z territory. Is it worth it to Sanew? Hell, yes. “I’ll never get smoked by an F-250 again,” he says.
- Price: $30,400 (est., including $5150 for engine modifications)
- Engine: 2.0L supercharged flat-4, 285 hp, 216 lb-ft
- Drive: Rear-wheel