We have to wonder about the reasoning behind the decision to equip every Scion FR-S, Subaru BRZ, and Toyota 86 with the same all-season low rolling resistance fuel economy tire that the Prius uses. Who made this decision, why was it made? We probably won’t have an answer to that until the full history of the “86” is written someday. But that doesn’t mean we have to live with it.
Road & Track is in our opinion the best of the “big four” enthusiast-oriented magazines. So naturally they asked themselves this question, then set out to improve upon their own FR-S. Their FR-S was tested on the racetrack in stock form, with a replacement 17″ tire, and then with a replacement 18″ wheel and tire. As expected (and as we’ve seen so many times in past tests of this type), the lowest profile tire isn’t necessarily the best handling tire. In this case, a simple replacement of the stock 17″ tires with an off the shelf performance tire yielded the bets lap times and the best 0-60 time. The 18″ setup worsened the lap time and 0-60 time, while slightly improving skid pad and slalom.
Interesting too is the comparison with the MazdaSpeed3 and Subaru WRX. The MazdaSpeed3, with the best horsepower and torque, obviously couldn’t put its power down in the same way as the FR-S. Most of it seems to be wasted in carrying the extra weight of the car. Too bad the secretary-special Miata never got the ‘Speed3 engine, as Car and Driver reported some years ago – only to have Mazda decide not to spend the money to complete the engineering. As to the WRX, while it’s clearly dated after many years on the market, it’s all wheel drive produced the best 0-60 time of the lot – by far. Next year’s all-new car should show further improvement.
Lesson for new 86/BRZ/FR-S owners: when you get home from the dealer after picking up your car, stop by an online tire shop such as the Tire Rack and order new tires for your car. Personally, we’d go with the Bridgestone Potenza RE-11s.
We’ve saved the video and results here, for the sake of posterity:
|Mazdaspeed3||Subaru WRX||Scion FR-S||Scion FR-S||Scion FR-S|
|TIRE||Dunlop SP Sport 2050||Dunlop SP Sport 01||Michelin Primacy HP||Dunlop Star Spec||Dunlop Star Spec|
|SIZE||225/40-18 88Y||235/45-17 94W||215/45-17 87W||215/45-17 87W||235/40-18 91W|
|MAX TRACK SPEED||98.8 mph||96.3 mph||93.6 mph||94.0 mph||92.5 mph|
|0-60 MPH||6.2 sec||5.0 sec||6.6 sec||6.5 sec||6.6 sec|
|SLALOM||69.2 mph||68.9 mph||67.8 mph||70.2 mph||71.2 mph|