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The Perception of Speed: 2014 Scion FR-S

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Text and photos by Cor Steenstra

Logically, the fastest, most expensive, unique and attractive cars get the most attention in the articles I publish here on Car Design TV. Therefore I try to do my best to mix these in as much as I can, since that will improve the amount of readers we have, which again makes the site more attractive to OEM’s to lend us cars to evaluate. We do move in a very close niche, so we’re never going to be as popular as the general automotive sites, but I would think our audience is much more dedicated, motivated and passionate than the average Autoblog reader.

That same filtration process is clearly present in our Highway Patrol and local law enforcement officers. When they are out to hunt for money they pick and choose to get the easiest targets, with the highest return on investment rates, of course. For example, here, in Mission Viejo, we have a heavy set motor bike sheriff who targets school parking lots at the beginning of each new school year. The city of Mission Viejo managed to set up specific routes ‘to aid the flow of traffic through certain school parking lots’, and made those rules clear by placing minimum sized indication signs along these routes.

Schools again started here after Labor Day, and so we could find that overweight sheriff just around the bushes in the parking lot, mass directing the people who did not read the small signs and who took the most logical left turn, into free spaces at the parking lot to give them hefty citations. He was handing them out by groups of 4-6, since he could not write and get new victims at the same time. If he would have had that capability, he would have gotten even more novice parents and grad parents to new schools, and robbed them of their hard earned money.That same attitude can be found in other money hungry officers who ‘patrol’ totally flat and straight, open areas of road. Take for instance Highway 74. If you drive from Lake Elsinore, where I do the photo shoot just outside of the burned area overlooking the lake and surrounding mountains, towards Orange County, you first have to go through a long stretch of winding road down the mountains. In most cases you will be confronted by people along that same road, in that same direction, who are either on a nice outing, or are scared driving there. They tend to have a much lower speed, around 30 mph instead of the allowed 55 mph. Nothing wrong with that, since you want everyone to be safe, but if they do not see and not use the turnouts, to let faster traffic go by, than it becomes a chore.

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So here I was, driving the 2014 Scion FR-S (yes, I am sorry. It was a long sag-way to get to the car part). We had just come from Hemet, and I had just done a photo shoot of the Scion FR-S up over the mountain, looking down on Lake Elsinore and the surrounding mountains. That in itself was surprising, since a huge fire had raged through exactly that area a few weeks prior, destroying large areas of brush and trees, but specifically THAT location was surprisingly spared. It was very eerie.

After that shoot, on the way down, I initially had no traffic in front of me. The Scion FR-S in this version had a particularly loud exhaust system, and sounded like it could do war with the best, so I thought that empty stretch would be good to see what it could do. The road holding of the FR-S is exemplary. It does not slide at all. I was able to push through corners and feel safe and secure, in control all the time. The loud exhaust though, did not mean more power. I was quite disappointed that when I try to floor it, it just does a ‘meh…’ acceleration. I tried it several times, but in no way did either one of us feel like we were pressed back into our seats at all. I’ve been pressed back in my seat more by some electric vehicles than by this FR-S, which surprised me, since I did have that sensation when I drove the 2013 versions a year ago, and they did not have the loud exhaust.

Anyway, down the hill we went, and we ran into a slew of cars headed by an obviously scared driver who did not use the turnouts. Given that, you can do nothing but wait till you go over the narrow bridge that signals the end of the winding bit of road, and within a mile later you get an overtaking area. I followed 4 other cars in overtaking the slow turtle, and we went on our way. Passing the turn in the road leading up to the second passing area, the cars in front moved away from me, obviously relieved to be able to floor it.

Past the traffic lights for the left turn off towards a local company, I was now clearly some 5 or 6 car lengths behind the leading pack of 4, when I passed a Highway Patrol Car on the opposite site, and wouldn’t you know it… On came his lights, and he made a swift turn and tailed behind me till I found a place to stop. Of course I was going too fast, 65 in a 55 zone, and of course he did not want to show evidence of that in any sort of way, and of course it did not matter that the 4 cars in front of me were driving clearly faster than I had been… The Scion FR-S looks fast, and it is loud… Guilty…

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