6 Mods To Get The Most Out Of Your FR-S / BRZ
The Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ is one of the best-to-drive enthusiast cars in decades, but from the factory there are a few things that need adjusting to really have the best experience with the car. With these six straightforward improvements recommended by ModBargains’ Modification Experts, every drive in your RWD Flat-Four coupe will leave you smiling even wider than before. When we first wrote this piece, the market was somewhat limited, so we figured it’s time we gave this piece an update with the latest parts, accessories and information on the platform.
Can we just talk about how god-awful the factory wheels on the FR-S/BRZ are? Unless you ordered a Subaru BRZ Series Blue or something that came with prettier wheels, the OEM wheels of the FR-S/BRZ are not really that great looking – and kinda terrible. The stock 17×7 wheels aren’t the best design or the widest wheels, and the tires, oh man, the tires on them literally are low-grip Prius tires. How embarrassing is that?
Sure, they are intended for easy drifting and break the rear loose really easily and controllably – but that also they’re not the grippiest thing for carving your favorite canyon or if you live anywhere that it actually rains (If you don’t like the rain where you live, please send it to SoCal, it’s a drought out here! -Ed). by no means a “performance tire”, which makes a set of wheels and tires for your FR-S or BRZ the best first mod for the ZN6 and ZC6. We offer a huge selection of wheels for the Scion FR-S as well as wheels for Subaru BRZ – though really, both are the same lug pattern.
For a car with an emphasis on handling, a set of lightweight rotary forged wheels are a perfect complement to the car, their light weight means a huge improvement in handling and response due to the reduction in unsprung weight on the suspension and an overall reduction in weight. Opting for a wider tire with a stickier compound and appropriate tread pattern will also make a huge improvement in the grip and road holding ability of the car, allowing you to really “bite” into the turns more than the slide-happy OEM tires permit.
Forgestar CF5 Wheels are a great option if 5-spoke wheels are more your style and offer the same benefits as the F14.
HRE FF15 Tarmac on OHLINS Coilovers for Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S
If you’re looking for a brand with an established reputation, HRE Performance Wheels offers a couple great new options in their Flow Form line that are within reach of the average FR-S/BRZ driver. HRE FF15 Wheels for Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ seen here in Liquid Silver finish, offer that classic multispoke touring car style in a lightweight, high strength wheel.
If the straight spoke look isn’t your thing, HRE FF01 Wheels for Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S look incredible on any ZN6/ZC6 as well.
If you’re looking for something a little different, check out the offerings for FR-S and BRZ fitments from Avant Garde Wheels. If you’re into the mesh look with a lip, a set of Avant Garde M220 Wheels for Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ might be the perfect fit for your tastes.
Avant Garde Wheels are offered with a variety of options and are typically available in a bright color and a dark – the M220 is available in both machined silver and matte black finishes to suit your car’s look.
Avant Garde M310 Wheels for Subaru BRZ Custom Gloss Gold 18×8 / 18×9 on Air Suspension
The M310 is another classic wheel but with a more modern look, evoking a bit more of a “european” feel – Avant Garde offers custom finishes like the custom Gloss Gold seen on the BRZ above, but looks great in Hyper Silver or Matte black as well.
A newer entry to the Toyobaru game is fifteen52, whose wheels reinterpret iconic motorsports wheel styles into new setups that look great on both today’s cars and classic vehicles. Fifteen52 Wheels for Scion are available in 16in – 19in fitments for the ZN6/ZC6 platform.
Available in 17in – 19in sizes, the fifteen52 Tarmac wheels for Scion offer a iconic 5-spoke style first popularized by Ken Block’s Gymkhana series of viral videos.
The FR-S and BRZ can look very different depending on what diameter wheels you choose, and the width will have an effect on the look as well. Compare these 86 Twins in 18s.
Check out how the Tarmac looks in 18in, seen here custom powdercoated Gunmetal.
Want something a bit more dynamic and modern? Check out fifteen52 Turbomac Wheels for Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ – offering the look of the bold 5-spoke Tarmac but with turbo slotting akin to the “Turbo” wheels of the 80s.
Craving something meshy? Want to run some BEEFY effing tires? Grab a set of 16in Formula TR wheels, seen here in this insanely meaty fitment on this BRZ.
If you want something a bit more special, fifteen52 is all too happy to oblige. You’re not just limited to their cast offerings – oh no, you can get as crazy as your imagination (and checkbook) allow. Check out the forged Tarmac F40 wheels, seen here on this FR-S in a 18×9 ET30 square fitment.
The Tarmac F40 offers the clean lines of the Tarmac, but with the sunk in details cribbed from the styling of the wheels of their namesake, the Ferrari F40, the iconic 80’s supercar.
Available in a variety of finishes, the Tarmac F40 looks great in all of them.
From cast to totally custom Forged wheels, fifteen52 has a great selection of fitments in 5x100mm. Just ask a Mod Expert for more information.
If the flush-n-fitment look is more your thing, scope out a set of Klutch SL14 Wheels. Klutch Wheels are affordably priced and put an emphasis on style, offering a variety of beautifully finished wheels for in 5×100 fitments for the FR-S and BRZ.
Klutch SL5 wheels, on the other hand, offer a more muted look.
Whatever you decide on – you can order it here at ModBargains and have it mounted and installed at our shop, ModAuto. Have questions? Ask one of our Mod Experts- give us a call at 714-582-3330 to speak to an expert, chat live at ModBargains.com or stop by the ModAuto showroom in person to get expert advice and some recommendations for what might be a great choice for you.
2. Drop Your Toyobaru With Suspension Upgrades
Enkei RPF-01 in Gold Finish 17×9 ET35 on Swift Springs
If you’re thinking about lowering your FR-S Suspension or BRZ Suspension – there are three basic ways to achieve that. Lowering Springs, Coilovers and Air Suspension. We put together a more technical and thorough FR-S/BRZ Suspension Mods Guide already which you can read HERE, but we’ll recap the basic concepts here.
Lowering Springs will reduce the ride height of the car and typically feature a higher spring rate for more responsive handling, which can come at the expense of ride quality. Eibach Springs for Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ are a solid conservative choice for lowering the car, but if the drop on the standard Eibach Springs isn’t enough for you, Eibach Sportline Springs for Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S offer a more aggressive drop.
Swift Spec R Lowering Springs For FR-S Installed into the FR-S Suspension
Another option for springs for a lower stance is a set of H&R Springs for Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ. The H&R Springs drop the car by 1.2in up front and 1.4in at the rear, both sexing up the car by eradicating the excess wheelgap and enhancing its handling performance by lowering the center of gravity. It’s worth saying though that you can lower your car all you want, but it won’t make you handle better unless you have some decent tires, too, so keep that in mind when going low.
With a set of lowering springs, regardless of manufacturer, you’re not going to need to roll your fenders or get a camber kit or whatever nonsense your “tuner bro” told you. What you will need though, is a new set of shock absorbers later on – meaning unless you install a set of new shocks with the springs, you’ll be paying for labor again later on to take it all apart to install new shocks. It takes literally the same amount of effort to install a set of coilovers as it does a set of lowering springs, so when you factor in that coilovers are both a spring AND shock, it becomes a surprisingly economical option.
Coilovers aren’t just for trackdays and race cars – they’re actually a great choice for a daily driven car as well – several of us here have ST Suspensions coilovers on our own daily drivers, like Photographer Charles’ FR-S, seen in the photo above, riding on ST Suspension XTA Coilovers for Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ.
Coilovers give you precise control over the ride height of your car, you control how much drop there is – and if you don’t like it, you can change it. Some coilovers come with camber plates, some don’t, though unless you’re tracking the car or doing a really aggressive fitment, odds are, you probably won’t need the camber plates if your coilovers don’t come with them. Some coilovers also feature adjustable shock absorbers, allowing you to fine tune the ride quality and handling behavior of the car.
Here’s that same Subaru BRZ back on the ground with the ST Coilovers for Subaru BRZ installed.
If you live in a snowbelt state or anywhere that corrosion is actually a problem, you may want to scope out KW V3 Coilovers for Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ, which feature a stainless steel exterior to prevent corrosion, and come from one of the most trusted names in suspension – at a premium price.
Avant Garde M310 Wheels for Subaru BRZ Custom Gloss Gold 18×8 / 18×9 on Air Suspension
If you want to be able to really lower the hell out of the car, like scrape the pavement when parked – and then still be able to drive out of the parking lot at the end of the carshow without removing your bumpers, air suspension is damn near the only way to achieve your goal. If you want to get low on air, check out AirRex Air Suspension for Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ. Air suspension is expensive and comes with a lot of compromises, but if you’re after the ultimate fitment, air’s basically the only way to do it.
Not sure what suspension mods are best for your Scion FR-S or Subaru BRZ? Ask a Mod Expert – give us a call at 714-582-3330, chat live at ModBargains.com or stop by and ask in person for expert advice on modding your “86”.
OK, this isn’t so much a mod as it is a “fix” for one of the most annoying – and COMMON – problems with these cars. One of the biggest problems people report is “Notchy” or “clunky” gears when shifting. Even on low mileage cars, when owners pull the magnetic drain plug on the tranmission, they find it covered in metal shavings, meaning the fluid has already accumulated an excess of contaminants.
This disgusting mess is from a low-mileage FR-S – which shows you how dirty your transmission fluid likely is. If you feel like your shifting is “Notchy” or “Clunky”, change your Transmission fluid.
Toyota recommends you change the transmission oil every 22,500 miles, or 22 months, whichever comes first, which means a lot of you out there with more miles on the car are likely overdue.
Here are a few of the most common symptoms of the “notchy shifter in Scion FR-S”:
*First gear is clunky
*2nd feels notchy
*3rd may be difficult, especially when shifting below 3000rpm.
So how do you get rid of all the filth in your transmission case, ruining your gears, as well as fix the clunky notchy shifter in FR-S & BRZ?
Believe it or not, the fix is way simpler than you think. Just change the transmission oil! Drain the OEM gear oil from the car, you may want to flush the trans with a bit of extra fresh oil.
We recommend using Motul 300 Gear oil for differential and transmission oil changes, and we have put together this convenient kit with the right amount needed. Why Motul? Motul is a top shelf quality, fully synthetic oil specifically engineered for the demanding conditions of keeping race engines and gearsets lubricated.
Running Motul Motor oil can actually allow your car to make more HP at the wheels, and it’s also why Motul is a favorite of the NASIOC forums – not to mention the blend of detergents that make Motul superior to the usual stuff you’d find at Autozone. Speaking from personal experience, a very close friend of mine and Subaru Expert trusted nothing but Motul in his300+AWHP Daily-Driver WRX. (FYI guys… a stock WRX of that gen is around 160-165AWHP on a AWD Dynojet) because Motul was the only oil that he found that wouldn’t get consumed by the motor.
While you’re changing the trans fluid, and since you already have the gear oil and gear oil pump tool out, it’s best to change both the differential gear oil and the transmission oil at the same time. It’s worth noting that you should change the differential fluid about every two years to be on the safe side and ensure your LSD keeps you from the dreaded one-wheel-peel.
Gross, dude. Gross.
About the rear differential – it’s important you change the oil in your differential, too, since the diff is the part of your car that’s sending the power to the ground, and it has a similar service interval. Especially if you like to get slide-happy with your FR-S or BRZ. Don’t lie, we know you’ve TOTALLY gotten sideways a few times – or at least tried. Trick is, sliding around like that is hard on your differential.
Guess what else!
Fortunately, if you’re in SoCal, we offer this service here at our on-site install shop, ModAuto. Call us at 714-582-3330 or CLICK HERE to make your appointment today!
Pair up a fresh change of diff and trans fluids with a Perrin Rear Shifter Bushing and you’ll make shifting a lot smoother, which makes every gear change much more fun. For those of you with an automatic transmission, we won’t hate on your lack of a third pedal, but instead we suggest that you still check your rear differential fluid drain plug.
If you need to have your Scion FR-S Transmission Oil Changed or need your BRZ Differential Oil Changed, we can do that for you here if you’re in Southern California, come by our install shop, Mod Auto, where our experienced, professional techs can do the transmission and rear differential oil change for you – call 714-582-3330 to make an appointment, visit ModBargains.com or email [email protected] to get more information.
4. Breathe Free With An Upgraded Air Intake
The Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ‘s shared powerplant, the Subaru FA20 engine, leaves a lot to be desired. Luckily the ZN6 and ZC6 chassis are among the best supported cars for modding ever. There are several performance intake options for FR-S and intake options for BRZ out there, so we’ll only be discussing a few for the sake of brevity. For more information, check out our FA20 Intake Guide here.
The OEM Airbox on the FR-S/BR-Z isn’t exactly flow-optimized. An aftermarket air intake solves this problem by replacing the restrictive OEM filter element with a high flow unit, and specially tuned, optimized air intake paths enhance the flow of air into the engine. Coupled with lower air temperatures with a “Cold Air” type intake, the optimized air flow of the intake tube itself allows you to make more power – something the FR-S/BR-Z sorely needs more of. What’s more, an intake will deliver improved throttle response and potentially even improved fuel economy.
The best intakes replace the intake from throttle body to filter. Injen Technology offers a SP Air Intake for FR-S/BRZ which features a heat-shielded semi-sealed airbox, located in the same position as the OEM airbox and makes use of the OEM air inlet.
The heat shielding also helps minimize the potential for hot air ingestion. The Injen Intake is the best intake that doesn’t require the removal of the front bumper fascia, but if you are after the coldest air, moving the point of ingestion as far forward into the airstream makes sense.
On the dyno, the Injen Intake (SP1230) yielded a modest gain of +12whp and +9wtq, but when you consider that the car was only getting 155 horses to the rear wheels, that 12hp gain is a much bigger percentage.
There are two systems we want to talk about here that are set up this way – Perrin Performance Cold Air Intake for FR-S/BRZ and the Mishimoto Cold Air Intake for FR-S/BRZ. Both of these systems relocate the air filter ahead of the radiator to draw in cooler air.
Note that both of these systems stop ahead of the Mass Air sensor – more on that in a moment. The Mishimoto design features a heat shield integrated into its design, which works in its favor. The Mishimoto Cold Air Intake for FR-S/BRZ yielded a +10whp/+8wtq gain, and it’s reasonable to say the Perrin system would offer similar gains.
Where things get fun is that you can pair this with Mishimoto’s Scion FR-S/BRZ Induction Hose, which replaces the section of intake between the mass air sensor and throttle body inlet. This inocous looking piece of tube adds an extra 5whp to these intake systems.
All of the intake systems we’ve discussed offer a small but modest power increase and work best when combined with other mods for the greatest power gains. We hope that this guide has given you a good idea of what intakes are on the market for the FA20 and what the pros and cons of the different designs are.
If you’re interested in getting an intake for your FR-S/BRZ, we invite you to chat with our friendly and Knowledgeable Modification Experts by calling 714-582-3330 today, or chat live on www.modbargains.com
5. Pipe Up With a New Exhaust
The OEM Scion FR-S Exhaust and Subaru BRZ Exhaust aren’t anything to write home about, and it’s not exactly interesting looking – and you can hardly hear the motor! So let’s deal with that. Your exhaust makes up a huge part of the character of the rear of your car, but also changes the sound and performance of your car. Your exhaust truly defines the style of the entire rear end of the car, so consider the aesthetic as well as the sound when looking at an exhaust system.
There are a lot of components to keep track of in the exhaust, so we’ve posted this diagram to help you out – read more about the layout of your exhaust and its components here.
A Cat-Back exhaust for Scion FR-S or Subaru BRZ is going to include a muffler and a midpipe to connect the system right after the catalytic converter, hence “Cat-Back”. The combination of a muffler with a larger-diameter and streamlined midpipe enhances horsepower and torque as well as sound. With any exhaust it’s important that you do your research and listen to multiple exhaust systems so that you can decide for yourself what you like best. It’s worth noting any system called an Axle Back will not include the mid-pipe, but rather, just the muffler and tips only, or sometimes only the muffler itself, so be sure you know what you’re ordering.
All of the quieter exhaust systems will feature a shared rear muffler, like the Invidia Q300 seen here.
Invidia Q300 Sound
Compared to the louder N1, the Invidia Q300 features a chambered rear muffler for a smoother exhaust note.
If you’re after something a bit louder, consider the Invidia N1 Cat-Back Exhaust for Scion FR-S. This is the system to go with if the Q300 is too quiet for your tastes.
Check out how the Berk Technology Muffler Delete with Tips for Scion FR-S Subaru BRZ look installed – it literally bolts on in place of the muffler.
With its shared chamber rear muffler, the Remus Exhaust for Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ fits in the factory openings perfectly and offers a slightly louder note than stock without waking the neighbors.
The Exhaust is not all that restrictive from the factory, so there’s not a lot of power to be made here, but the factory exhaust is pretty quiet and keeps you from enjoying the signature burble of a Subaru Boxer-Four. A full catback exhaust is always going to be the best option for performance and ARK offers a couple of great exhaust options. There’s the ARK GRIP Exhaust that enhances performance, response and improves the engine note without being overly loud, or for those who prefer a more aggressive tone, the ARK DTS Exhaust lets you really hear your boxer roar.
There are many great exhaust options out there for your FR-S or BRZ, but the best one is the one that sounds best to your ears, so be sure you listen to sound clips and know what you’re getting before you drop $1200 on an exhaust you end up hating.
Need to order your FR-S or BRZ Exhaust? Give us a call at 714-582-3330 to order yours today.
6. Get Flashed & Cornfed with a Flash Tune & E85 Ethanol Gas
Video Courtesy Vishnu Performance Systems
The single biggest flaw with the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ can be summed up in two words. “TORQUE DIP”. This terrible spot in the rev band around 4000rpm is where the car’s stock torque curve just falls on its face faster than a dog with no legs.
What this means is that should you shift a little too early, at full throttle, you shift and you’re dead smack in that torque dip, and that stock Miata you’re running the canyons with starts to pull away. Ouch. We love the FR-S, don’t get us wrong, but that torque dip really holds back an otherwise great little car. Fortunately, fixing it is a lot easier than you’d think.
The first order of business is going to be a tune.
A tune is only half of the puzzle here and the starting point for fixing that damnable torque dip. A Vishnu Performance OpenFlash Tablet is good for up to +20whp right out of the box running regular fuel, but if you switch over to E85 fuel, you can pick up as much as +25whp and +30wtq.
A handful of other tuning options are available, but Vishnu and ECUTEK are really the only viable options as of press time.
You can go with either a “Canned” or “Off The Shelf” tune that’s already loaded into the OFT when you get it, or you can see a local reputable tuner and have a map tailored to your car exactly. Even with the same car with the same mods, the output can sometimes vary from car to car, as weird as that sounds, it’s true.
We’ve already discussed how to run E85 in your FR-S or BRZ and covered the Vishnu OpenFlash Tablet in greater detail in that post if you’d like to know more about getting a Vishnu OFT for your Toyobaru, but going Corn-Fed is the best bang for your buck this side of a supercharger. For extra power, couple an E85 tune with a set of headers to give the car the grunt it so desperately needs.
Peak gains for headers at best, is about +20whp/wtq, but in that crucial “torque dip” part of the revband, torque increases by about 14wtq on regular pump gas – imagine the gains with E85. Borla has two great options available and you’ll see these acronyms a lot – UEL and EL. UEL stands for UNEQUAL length, EL being Equal Length. The main difference between the two is the sound, as performance is about the same. On the upside, whichever header option you go with, you’ll be saving about 10lbs over the stock header.
Borla’s Unequal Length headers are slightly less expensive and this type of header gives you that signature “boxer rumble” you know and love from modded WRX’s & STi’s.
BONUS – Get More Stopping Power with Upgraded Brakes
One of the drawbacks of the FR-S/BR-Z is that stopping power is not the car’s forte, and for a car that likes to get tailhappy, it’s an area that really needs improvement. While you don’t have to go full-tilt Big Brake Kit (but they are wicked nice to have!), simply upgrading the components of the OEM system – installing Slotted Brake Rotors, Performance Compound Brake Pads and Stainless Steel Braided Brake Lines should do the trick. The Braided lines take away the “sponginess” rubber brake lines develop under hard braking and keeps your braking feel positive, while improved rotors will enhance brake cooling for better brake endurance under spirited driving conditions and better pads will improve the “bite” of your brake calipers onto the rotor – combined, these things will drastically improve your stopping power.
That’s it for our rundown of the 6 best mods for the FR-S and BRZ- we didn’t get into exterior mods, but if you’re interested in making your FR-S or BRZ stand out from the crowd, check out our FR-S & BRZ Exterior Mods feature here.
Want to know more about modding your FR-S or BRZ? Check out our other in-depth articles.