The Ultimate "DS" Test - Focus RS, Scion FRS, Camaro 2.0T, Civic Type R

This test is summarized by Mark Scroggs Multi-time SCCA National Champion. I think I speak for all of us saying  a huge thank you to everyone who participated in the test. It’s a shame we couldn’t bring a WRX into the mix. I wanted to bring our 2018 to Crow’s, but life got in the way and I couldn’t get tires in time. But enough of that. Let’s dive right in 🙂 This post was originally posted on Facebook, but with permission, we’re posting this on apexjunky in case you’re not friends with whomever or if you don’t have a Facebook account – God forbid! The italicized words are Mark’s and I want to thank Mark for contributing this to the community. 

Please note, the following is purely one data point, and nothing here is official SAC/SEB opinion, nor was this test conducted per the request of the SAC/SEB. This test was conducted simply because some enthusiasts and competitors wanted to see how certain cars compare in an autocross environment.  

That being said, as a SAC member I can tell you classing new cars can be a challenge sometimes, members want them classed right away however real word data can be hard to come by initially. Most of the time when a new car is released we are forced to make our “best guess” based on specs, vehicle type, magazine tests, and whatever data we can get our hands on. While tests like this aren’t a definitive answer to any one particular question, the data from them could help make more accurate decisions. 

OK, with that out of the way, on to the gory details!

As most of you know, the center-point of this test is Honda’s awesome new Civic Type R…with over 300HP, 8.5” wheels, 3K-ish cub weight, and a limited slip diff it certainly has the ingredients to be a fast autocross car, and be very popular as well. So how does it compare to some of the popular cars in both in D-Street and B-Street? This test gave us the opportunity to find out in a controlled manner.

The Cars

Here is the lineup, including details about the prep level and the owner/driver…

2016 Chevy Camaro 2.0 Liter Turbo. This is the reigning SCCA DS National Champion car owned and driven by Your’s Truly. Upgrades are 19×8.5 Forgestar wheels with 275 Bridgestone RE-71R tires, custom alignment, and custom single-exit cat-back exhaust. Otherwise stock shocks and sway bars.

Picture of the 2016 Camaro 2.0T

2013 Scion FR-S owned and driven by Jonathan Stroud, Trophy winner this year in DS at Nationals. The car is equipped with 17×7 Enkei RPF1 wheels with 225/45 RE-71Rs, MCS 2-way non remote shocks, Nameless single exit cat-back exhaust, Whiteline 22mm solid front bar, OEM crash bolts and custom alignment.

Photo of the FRS by Teddie Alexandrova

2017 Focus RS, owned and driven by Justin Moore. Justin did not attend Nationals this year, but in DS he finished 3rd in 2015 and 6th in 2014 with a 2013 WRX. His car is equipped with Koni shocks, big front bar, 265 RE-71Rs, and a cat-back exhaust.

And finally the 2018 Honda Civic Type R, owned and driven by multi-time Champion Annie Gill. The car is equipped with 245 RE-71Rs on the stock 20” wheels, and a custom alignment with strut top pins removed to gain as much legal negative camber as possible. Otherwise completely stock including shocks and rear bar.

Photo of the Type R by Annie Gill

Test Procedure

The test was conducted on the super grippy concrete of Crows Landing. The course we used is a permanent “practice” course set-up at all local American Autocross Series events, and is a separate course from the main event course. This was also the same practice course used at the Crows Landing Championship Tour last April. It has a nice mix of speed and transition, as well as 2 sweepers, one in each direction…however the start is straight and wide open for the first 175+ feet before the first turn. The surface is very consistent, there is never any OPR build-up, and since this is a permanent course the line is always clean even at the beginning of the day. The weather was nice, about 80 degrees with a moderate steady wind.

The drivers in this test were the four car owners, with the primary control driver for results being myself. The procedure was as follows…
• Start in your own car and take 4 runs
• Rotate through the other cars and take 4 runs in each
• Then go back to your own car for 3-4 more control runs
• Wait at least 5-minutes between runs
• Each car owner was responsible for taking care of their own car between runs, such as cooling, pressures, etc.

Results

With myself driving, here are the results in the order of when each car was driven…

 

Test Vehicles Run1 Run2 Run3 Run4 Best Avg
Camaro 2.0T 33.087 33.064 32.561 32.594+1 32.561 32.827
Civic Type R 32.914 33.138 32.943+1 32.894 32.894 32.982
Focus RS 33.264 33.451 33.367 N/A 33.264 33.361
FR-S 33.858 33.116 33.138+1 32.819+2 33.116 33.233
Camaro 2.0T 33.063 32.455+1 32.681 N/A 32.681 32.733

 

As you can see I only included clean runs in the Best column, but there were a couple quicker dirty runs worth noting 😉

Here is the finishing order of each car with the other drivers, with the delta between each car…
Drivers Test Vehicles Delta

Annie Civic Type R 

Camaro 2.0T -0.565
Scion FR-S -0.153
Focus RS -0.138
Justin Civic Type R 
Focus RS -0.269
FR-S -0.247
Camaro 2.0T -0.138
Jonathan Scion FR-S 
Civic Type R -0.878
Camaro 2.0T -0.050
Focus RS -0.279

A couple more data points not shown above…
• If you average the fastest runs including the owner’s times in their own car, the CTR is fastest.
• If you average the fastest runs without including the owner’s times the FR-S is fastest.

The following is my impressions of each car from a neutral standpoint, nothing I say has anything to do with official SAC opinion, nor will I suggest any classing related opinion.

Camaro 2.0T

I will start with this car since it is mine. The results say the car has lots of potential, but it’s difficult to get used to and extract the speed in your first event in the car. It is very composed and drama-free, but it is big, hard to see out of, and difficult to place on course. Due to the wide open start, I was quickest in the first section with the Camaro due to my familiarity with how to launch it best…it has been known to do high 2.0xx and low 2.1xx 60-ft times at Pros. The car also posted the highest G readings in both sweepers. It transitions very well if hustled, but you always have to respect the size.

Civic Type R

Right off the bat this car is FUN! The power is very strong, best of the group, super quick turn in, makes good noises, and the diff/torque-vectoring systems pull it out of corners well. However it was very tricky to launch and I never got it right, bogging it on all 4 runs. Solostorm said I was almost 4-tenths behind the Camaro to the first turn. Transitionally the car is very quick and turns in well, but posted the lowest G readings in the sweepers. Larger tires (when wheels become available) and a rear bar should certainly help. Overall this was the most enjoyable car to drive, so for those of you who don’t like the looks the good news is you can’t see it from the driver’s seat 

Scion FR-S

I admit being surprised at the results of this car. After taking off on my first run I thought there was no way I could get this car up to the speed of the others, but the more I pushed it the more it responded. Like the CTR, this car was almost half-second behind the Camaro to the first turn, but makes up time dramatically in transitions. It also had the biggest delta from run-1 to run-4 for me, and I think I could have gone even faster with more runs…I coned a run that would have it hundredths faster than the CTR. It obviously drives way different than the others, momentum is a huge factor and you have to be aggressive in transitions to extract the speed from it. It’s also arguably the most prepped car in this test.

Ford Focus RS

This car surprised me the most, not necessarily the pace being behind the others, but how it goes about it’s business. It is a very nervous car and can drive quite twitchy, yet I was most consistent in this car. I did not take a 4th run due to quickly diminishing tires, and I felt very plateaued in it…everything I threw at it resulted in essentially the same times. According to Solostorm, this car was best at nothing, but pretty good at most things (note that I never did a full clutch-drop launch as I did not want to hurt the car, so there was probably time to be gained at the start). The set-up of this car is a question, some say the stock shocks and a different driving mode would improve it (we ran it in Drift mode).

Summing Up

While this test has provided a lot of data, it should again be noted that it is still one data-point. Example – if this course had a dog-leg start, the results could have been quite different. All that being said, I think some meaningful notes came out of it, everyone else can decide for themselves 

All in all it was a fantastic day and we all had a lot of fun. Huge thanks to the following…
• Chris Cox and the rest of the American Autocross Series family for assistance in pulling this off. 
• Ben Pullen and Tony Rodriguez for all your help logging times and setting up the multiple cones we all hit. I’m glad you guys all got some time in each car.
• Annie Gill for making the long Trek to CA so we could have access to your car! Also thanks for helping me with logistics and ideas on how to get the most out of this test.
• Justin Moore and Jonathan Stroud for gladly offering up your cars for others to thrash! The data we got from your cars definitely helped put the whole thing in perspective.
Here are videos of my fastest runs in each car…

Camaro – 

CTR –

 

Focus RS –

 

FR-S – 

Lastly, while tests like this can be very beneficial with classing decisions at the AC/SEB level, pulling them off each time a new car comes out is a lofty goal at best. We were very fortunate the planets aligned for this to take place, so please don’t expect it to happen with any future classing decisions. In the meantime, write your letters!