By Joe Bruzek on June 2, 2014
Scion's lightweight, rear-wheel-drive FR-S only left us with a small list of wants after we gave it and the nearly identical Subaru BRZ our most prestigious Best of 2013 Award. At the top of the list is more power, but that of course hasn't happened yet. The twins' weak aural experience from under the hood and the exhaust is thankfully a much easier and less-expensive issue to address than squeezing another 40-50 horsepower from under the hood.
A 2014 Scion FR-S we recently tested equipped with Toyota Racing Development's performance exhaust system hit a home run in the area of the ear-pleasing notes. That's important because we always thought there was something lacking from the FR-S' factory equipment.
A sound tube designed to make the engine more audible inside the cabin was not the robust sound I wanted to hear more of; the noises out back were more pleasant and less audible. TRD's exhaust adds a whole new layer of fun to the already entertaining FR-S.
TRD's exhaust is not cheap by any means at a retail price of $1,059, according to our tester's sticker, but it overpowers the engine's pipsqueak tones with a bass-filled experience that cannot compare to the factory pipes.
The TRD system isn't too loud either.
The volume is reasonable for everyday driving. It's a perfect blend of mellowness and aggressiveness; the FR-S and BRZ should have come from the factory sounding like this. Cruising at highway speeds is the only area where the exhaust produced unwanted noise levels. I found it easily remedied by varying cruising speed and throttle input; 75 mph is noticeably loud, but 70 mph with a light touch is just right.
The sweet-sounding exhaust is lighter by 5.6 pounds compared to the stock system because of a smaller muffler, and a TRD representative claims low-end torque is improved. Toyota couldn't put a number on any potential power increase because it says it hasn't been officially tested. I wouldn't say the car feels any more powerful with the TRD exhaust, and wouldn't expect huge gains in the power department from what's essentially a muffler package that doesn't replace any other potentially restrictive parts of the factory exhaust.
A quick poking around shows there are a ton of aftermarket exhausts for the FR-S and BRZ, and that would be my first stop when shopping for an exhaust system given the grand it costs for TRD's. However, I wouldn't switch out the TRD exhaust if an FR-S I was considering buying was already equipped with it. Plus, the TRD system has a Toyota-backed warranty. Warranty work is a touchy area when adding aftermarket performance equipment and will vary depending on the specific situation. The TRD exhaust won't cause any anxiety-induced heartburn when it's time to take in the car for warranty work. For some, that may be worth spending more up front ... or just a little more on the monthly payment.
Road Test Editor Joe Bruzek covers Cars.com’s short-and long-term fleet of test cars and drives a 1998 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. Email Joe