Toyota introduced the Scion brand to Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal last September after cautiously testing its appeal in the United States, starting in 2003.
With its edgier styling, electronics packages and an arm-long list of available accessories for putting a personal stamp on the car, Scion was created to appeal to a young demographic. Stateside, the tC coupe has been Scion’s topseller.
For 2011, the tC coupe gets a major makeover, receiving a serious bump in power to 180 horsepower, a new six-speed automatic transmission to replace the archaic four-speed unit and some new sheet metal.
Arguably, the tC coupe is Toyota’s sportiest current offering (ignoring the Lexus division with its premiumpriced IS-F) and could even be considered the spiritual successor to the Celica, a sports coupe that met its demise in the 2005 model year although it was revered among car enthusiasts.
Our demo tC arrived wearing Nautical Blue Metallic paint, and frankly, the colour failed to highlight the car’s new lines. Scion’s stylists seem to have taken an ultra-conservative approach, and the restyling is disappointing.
Sitting alongside class competitor Kia Forte Koup, the new Scion tC looks frumpy. The new tC is snubnosed with a larger, more aggressive looking lower grille with large air intakes on either side. Slightly more pronounced fender flares give a more buff look, but the shape of the C-pillar looks, unfortunately, like it was borrowed from last year’s Dodge Charger.
But there is good news with the tC coupe. For a relatively low price, it comes very well-equipped. The grunty 2.4-litre DOHC four-cylinder (borrowed from the Camry) has one of the highest power ratings in class, and a two-piece panoramic sunroof, 18-inch alloy wheels, AC, cruise control and decent Pioneer audio system are standard equipment and work to make this an easy-to-like, comfortable car.
Add to that Toyota’s long list of TRD performance upgrades and other accessories to personalize the car, and the tC begins to look much more interesting.
The tC’s interior is surprisingly stark, no doubt a concession to its low price. Instrumentation is bare bones, consisting of a large tachometer, speedometer and fuel gauge. That’s it. The centre stack contains the 200-watt, eight-speaker Pioneer audio system and three large rotary knobs control the HVAC. Front sportstyle seats are comfortable, nicely bolstered and covered in an attractive charcoal cloth. Heated seats are not standard but are available as part of a pricey ($1,975) Leather-Seat Heater Package. A fat, three-spoke, tuner-style steering wheel (flattened at the bottom to increase thigh clearance) adds a nice sporting touch.
One pleasant surprise is the back seat. Rear legroom is remarkably generous (surpassing that of the Lexus IS350 sedan). Typical of the hatchback genre, the 60/40 split seat folds nearly flat, yielding a practical and spacious cargo floor. Interior plastic pieces, particularly those trimming the doors, were shinier and harder to the touch than we’ve come to expect from Toyota. The interior is best described as comfortably serviceable.
While Toyota touts the tC as a sports coupe, driving it reveals a tank-like, solid character that will be reassuring to some drivers but a disappointment to enthusiasts who crave a lively driving experience. To its credit, the Scion’s suspension never jars occupants, even with those big 18-in. low-profile tires. Handling is accurate, but the electrically assisted steering dulls feedback and is boosted more than I prefer.
On the plus side, the four-cylinder and new six-speed automatic transmission are a sweet match. The engine revs eagerly, albeit with a coarse note as the revs pick up, and the transmission is responsive, shifting seamlessly when pushed.
The 2011 Scion tC is in a tough market. The tC, at a price of $22,064, competes with some exceptional cars with low MSRPs, such as the Honda Civic Coupe (SE automatic for $22,175), Kia Forte Koup (EX with sunroof and automatic, $20,595) and Volkswagen Golf (Trendline automatic, $21,875).
The tC will appeal most to those who want a well-equipped car with sporty style, plenty of utility and the assurance of Toyota reliability, all at a competitive price.
Source : http://driving.ca/scion/tc/reviews/road-test/road-test-2011-scion-tc-2/712