It’s amazing to think just how far the Scion brand has come in only a decade. From the beginning, they knocked us, consumers—and enthusiasts alike—right off their feet with the oddball xB and xA, introducing our country to the concept of Kei cars that are certainly more popular and commonplace in Japan due to their size and affordability, all while providing the features most all of us want, and now expect, from a new car. They paved the way for a specific niche with other makers releasing small cars of their own, all of which helped to create the B-segment. A few years later, it only made sense for Scion to turn over a new leaf by bringing something sportier to their roster, a front-wheel-drive coupe designated “tC”, a car that was unlike its econo-friendly siblings in many ways (actual power, with an optional supercharger if so desired; decent handling) and yet very much so like its econo-friendly siblings in others (affordably priced with great mass appeal). Other models followed, including the space-conscious iQ, an updated/bigger xB and the xA’s replacement, the xD. And need we remind you of Scion’s greatest feat in the past year: the debut of one of the greatest game changers to come along in years, all while adhering to the realm of being nearly everything one would want from an affordable RWD platform, came the FR-S. Minds blown.
Scion has never looked better, but… they also want to kindly remind you: the tC is still here, and it’s better than ever.
Debuting as the main attraction at this year’s New York International Auto Show following the announcement of the Scion 10 Series (a limited-edition roll out of all five Scion models in a premium color and specific features found only on this release), Scion pulled the cover off the restyled ’14 tC. As you can already see, it’s a more aggressive step up from its predecessor with more angular headlamps, LED accents paired into the foglight area and a good refresh for the front/rear bumpers; overall it still maintains that familiar tC silhouette. The rear bumper actually draws some inspiration from the FR-S, so if you noticed that, give yourself a pat on the back. Inside, the girthy steering remains, the front seats will slide back into the last place you had it in before your friend got in the back and you get a very cool 6.1" touchscreen head unit, which comes standard and includes the basic essentials such as HD radio, Bluetooth connectivity and iPod/USB/aux jack inputs. Fork out an additional $1,198 and your stock unit is upgraded with BeSpoke/aha, which gives you navigation, one shot address entry (voice commandable, even while driving), POIs that come up as you approach them, aha Radio stations (check out Scion’s own AV channel) and is iOS/Android compatible.
In the arenas of performance, there aren’t any major highlights since the car comes with the same 2.5L as the previous generation. You probably won’t notice the 1hp loss, although you might complain about it, a total of 179 and 172lb-ft, all a result of tighter emissions controls. While the 6-speed manual is a more enjoyable driving experience overall, the auto transmission is still really good—and quite high tech. Being equipped with an Artificial Intelligence ECU, it “learns” your driving habits and adjusts to them by smoothing out shift transitions. Like the FR-S, it also has Dynamic Rev Management, which will effectively blip the throttle on downshifts. Scion also went in and improved chassis strength and tuned the suspension for a more sporty feel thanks to additional bracing and improved anti-sway bars. Perhaps the FR-S is responsible for getting the tC to up its game in the performance category? Not a bad thing!
Though the FR-S still reigns supreme as the key Scion model, the tC still earns my respect as a very close runner-up. The tC was Scion’s highest selling car, with 31% versus the FR-S’ 16% in 2012 sales. Updated with a great new Pioneer head unit, a sportier “feel” and even an option to grab a limited 10 Series edition, the 2014 tC will have no problem maintaining its status as the leader of its pack.
That New Car Smell
2014 Scion tC
The Sticker Starting at $19,965 (MT), $20,965 (AT)
Engine 2.5L 4 cylinder 16 valve DOHC with Dual VVT-i
The Power 179hp at 6,000rpm; 172lb-ft at 4,100rpm
Scale Tipping 3,060lb (manual)/3,102lb (auto)
Layout Front-engine, front-wheel-drive
Transmission 6-speed AT with Shift Logic or 6-speed MT
Footwork & Chassis Front independent MacPherson strut/rear independent double wishbone; front/rear stabilizer bars
Wheels & Tires 18" alloy wheels
At The Pump 23/31/26mpg (city/hwy/combined)
The Competition Honda Civic, Kia Forte
Deep Thoughts The original Scion coupe is still a force to be reckoned with after all these years. FWD, no care!