Spending an afternoon with Hooker's BlackHeart Toyota FRS

By: Blane Burnett | Photography: Jena Johnson12/19/2016 < Back to Blog Home
This past week I had the opportunity to take one of Holley's more unlikely project cars out to enjoy it on the road and track. While Holley/MSD is typically known for their domestic automotive products, they recently developed a complete exhaust system line up for the 2013-present Toyota FRS and Subaru BRZ. I wanted to see what it was all about so I scheduled some time for a drive with the car and made sure to get some photos of it to share with readers.

The FRS and BRZ have been on the market since 2013, and while the car hasn’t exactly seen huge sales numbers across the board, it is simple to understand why. The car is an ultra-niche product, a road car designed for canyon carving, perfectly suited for daily driving duties, but also equally at home at a weekend autocross or taking on a track-day session at the local road course. However, millennials are continually gravitating towards hybrids and paving the way for the self-driving car, and that’s a crying shame. With a 200-horsepower 2.0L flat-4 borrowed from Subaru, a close-ratio six speed transmission, and rear wheel drive, the car is an absolute pleasure to drive.

Bearing that in mind, BlackHeart exhaust designers took delivery of the little car that could and got to work developing their take on the perfect exhaust system to complement the FT86 platform. What they ended up with is a beautiful 304SS unequal-length-header (UEL) available in both catted and non-catted versions. A host of options are available to complete the rest of the exhaust, in both axle-back or cat-back formats. As with the headers, these are all constructed of 304SS, and each can be had with a single or dual-exit design with or without mufflers.

Upon startup of the car, you can tell it has been modified, which I like. The exhaust note settles to an idle that lets you know that the car is geared toward performance, but doesn’t exhibit any of the rasp or uncontrolled burbles of a straight-through or un-resonated exhaust. The word “tuned” is fitting to describe it.

In the effort of total disclosure, the car is currently equipped with the following modifications: Eibach Sport-line springs, 18’ ’x 8’’ Enkei RPF1 wheels with stickier-than-stock Falken Azenis RT615K rubber (245/40ZR-18), along with Hooker's dual exit BlackHeart cat-back system. The car is also utilizing an Eaton-based supercharger at the moment, helping force enough compressed air inside the cylinder walls of the four cylinder to achieve an impressive 282 horsepower at 7,500 RPM. Compared to stock, the car is much livelier and boasts a much broader torque delivery down low. 200 plus ft lbs of torque rush in at 4,600 RPM with peak torque arriving at 6,600 RPM. While a turbocharged version of the same engine would pull strong all the way to rev limit, I was surprised the supercharged FA20 held on to as much of its torque up top.

Out on the road the car hums right along, pulling all the way to the 7,500 RPM rev limit. All told, the addition of the supercharger and exhaust added 111 horsepower to a car that definitely benefited from the bump. The chassis is well sorted from the factory; it simply needed some help in the horsepower department. The platform handles the additional power boost in stride. The short wheelbase is communicative and allows you to change the direction in a microsecond, placing the car where you want it through the curves of Kentucky's winding backroads.

Following my time out on the road we headed out to Bowling Green's local road course to see how the FRS fared. If its on-road performance was any indication, the car was sure to impress. NCM Motorsports Park is a 200-acre facility located in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The track features a 22-acre skidpad and autocross area, as well as a 3.15-mile road course that features several turns modeled after world-famous tracks. The "Grand Full configuration" offers some tight decreasing radius turns, changes in elevation as well as some areas for vehicles to stretch their legs—perfect for taking a few laps in the BRD FRS. This venue also offers us the ability to find out how the the Hooker BlackHeart exhaust measures up to their established sound decibel limit of 103 dB.

Upon its release, popular automotive periodicals praised the FT86 platform, applauding its tail-happiness. Easily understood, given that the car was delivered to owners with the same low- resistance tires that come on a Toyota Prius. Thankfully the added contact patch at both ends of the car, softer rubber and the lowered stance allowed the car to exhibit a more planted disposition on track. This inspired confidence in a car that I've driven only a few times at most.

Eventually the gas light came on, indicating I had been enjoying myself far too much. It was time to return to the paddock and grant the tires and brakes some time to cool down, and myself the opportunity to reflect on the experiences of the day. The few modifications that have been added have only enhanced the driving experience, making it altogether more enjoyable. Toyota did a fine job designing and releasing a vehicle that offers the right recipe for fun to their customers. Hooker BlackHeart and others have added just the right improvements to polish off that experience. Even back at the office, the reception of the car from some of the more V8 faithful here has been met with pleasant surprise.

P.S. If your interests are piqued with Hooker's new FRS/BRZ exhaust componenets, then click play below for a comparison between the stock exhaust, a single exit axle back with muffler, and a dual axle back with mufflers. If you would like to check out Hooker's complete lineup of exhaust components for the FR-S/BRZ chassis, click here.