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2005 Scion TC - Road Test

We Finally Test It

Nov 1, 2004
0411_sccp_02_z+2005_scion_tc+right_front_view Photo 1/1   |   2005 Scion TC - Road Test

Like white guys with Afros, small cars are back in style. Leave it to the Japanese car manufacturers to be on the cutting edge of this new trend, just as the American public is clambering to trade in its fleet of pork-burning SUVs for transportation that's actually capable of beating 10 mpg on the highway.

Two issues ago, we gave you our first driving impression of Scion's new tC, the first Scion built specifically for the U.S. market and the first to look like something we'd actually enjoy driving. Since that brief spin around Washington D.C., we've been able to get our hands on one to drive on the highways of Southern California and the wide, paved stretches of California Speedway. For the most part, our test numbers place the car's performance firmly within our initial expectations. It won't break your neck, and it won't beat a Miata up that mountain, but the car definitely does offer impressive value for its modest purchase price.

Scion rates the tC's power output at 160 hp and 163 lb-ft of torque at 5700 rpm and 4000 rpm, respectively. Our test mule was a preproduction model that was modified with a polished AEM cold-air intake and a TRD exhaust, two enhancements that will be available directly from your Scion dealer, so we were unable to get absolute numbers for a bone-stock example. On our house Dynojet, our tC laid down 141-peak hp and 152 lb-ft of torque at the wheels, so we expect the modifications added around 10 hp more than the factory bottom line.

With our test monkey behind the wheel, the tC managed to eke out a 15.7-second quarter mile at 88.2 mph at the track, just as we originally predicted. Remember, the car also weighs close to 3,000 pounds. Thanks to a relatively generous torque curve, 0-to-30 mph was achieved in just under 3 seconds. At higher velocities the 2AZ-FE begins to pant a little, taking more than twice as long to go from 60 to 100 as it does to go from 0 to 60, which it manages in 7.8 seconds.

The acceleration numbers are nearly identical to a stock SVT Focus, which costs about $2,000 more, and about half a second off a Lexus IS 300 (with which it shares the same tires). Still, the Scion's acceleration is pretty good for the money you pay, and it does a pretty nice burnout too.

Although the tC's acceleration numbers more or less met our expectations, its handling could be better. The tC pulled 0.82g on the skidpad and slipped through the slalom at only 66.1 mph. Neither figure is particularly impressive.

The tC sports a rigid chassis and good balance, but during hard maneuvering body roll becomes increasingly evident. The true detractors from the car's handling, however, are the stock Bridgestone Potenzas. Push the car to its limits and its obvious the tires are giving up early. The car wants to do what you ask of it, but the Potenzas just don't have the necessary stick. Makes us wonder how much better this car would do if equipped with the optional lightweight 18-inch TRD wheels and Pirelli P Zero rubber, not to mention the available TRD springs and dampers. In handling terms, the most comparable cars we've tested are the Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer (0.82g and 67.2 mph) and the Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V (0.88g and 69.2 mph). The Scion is cheaper than both.

The tC's braking performance was decent, though not as impressive as other stock Toyota setups we've tested. The four-wheel discs hauled our tC down from 60 mph in 127 feet, and from 70 mph in 174. Better tires would significantly shorten these stopping distances as well.

Performance numbers aside, the tC driving experience is pleasant. We complained two months ago that the seats don't offer enough lateral support, but after a week of daily use we conclude they're comfortable. The climate and stereo controls are simple and intuitive, the shifter works well enough and the stereo sounds pretty good, though not as good as the throaty sounds from the TRD muffler when you stand on the throttle.

The most impressive thing about the interior is the surfeit of passenger space. Even the back seat offers an amazing amount of legroom. Four full-size adults fit easily in the tC without worry of what they should do with their knees. Conversely, the rear cargo area is amazingly small, despite the fact that the car is a hatchback. You win some, you lose some, we suppose.

Overall, there's little doubt the Scion tC offers decent bang for the buck. For those who don't eat, breathe and shit high performance, it's a very good entry-level commuter as it sits. And for those who do, but don't have tons of cash to spend, the availability of a comprehensive, factory-supported aftermarket performance program makes it a great entry-level pocket hot rod. Scion has officially joined the hot hatch market.

2005 SCION TC
ENGINE
Engine Code :2AZ-FE
Type :Inline four, aluminum block and head
Valvetrain :DOHC, four valves per cylinder,
VVT-i variable valve timing
Displacement : 2362cc
Bore x Stroke :88.5mm x 96.0mm
Compression Ratio :9.6:1
Claimed Crank Hp :160 hp @ 5700 rpm
Claimed Crank Torque : 163 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
Measured Wheel Hp :152 hp @ 5700 rpm
Measured Wheel Torque :141 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
Redline :6500 rpm
DRIVETRAIN
Layout :Transverse front engine,
front-wheel drive
Transmission Five-speed manual
Gear Ratios
1 :3.538:1
2 :2.045:1
3 :1.333:1
4 :0.972:1
5 :0.0775:1
Final drive :4.235:1
Differential :Open
CHASSIS
Chassis Code :FW21
Exterior dimensions
Curb Weight :2905 lbs.
Weight Distribution F/R :61/39
Overall Length :174 in.
Wheelbase :106.3 in.
Overall Width :69.1 in.
Track F/R :59.3 in.
Height :55.7 in.
SUSPENSION
Front :MacPherson strut, anti-roll bar
Rear :Double wishbone, anti-roll bar
BRAKES
Front :10.8-in. ventilated discs,
fixed calipers
Rear :10.6-in. solid discs, fixed calipers
WHEELS AND TIRES
Wheels :17x7-in. alloy, 45mm offset
Tires :215/45-17 Bridgestone Potenza
PERFORMANCE
Acceleration
0-30 mph :2.9 sec.
0-60 mph :7.8 sec.
Quarter-Mile Time :15.7 sec
Quarter-Mile Speed :88.2 mph
Handling
Lateral Grip ({{{200}}}-ft. skidpad) :0.82g
Slalom Speed (700-ft. slalom) :66.1 mph
Braking
{{{80}}}-0 stopping distance :230 ft.
70-0 stopping distance :174 ft.
60-0 stopping distance :127 ft.

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