Scion chose our nation's capitol to unveil its latest model, the tC. I suppose you can't pass up the opportunity to rhyme tC in DC, so I understand the selection. And it's a familiar name; the tC should be nothing new to faithful Turbo readers who followed our Project tC that we built for the West Coast SEMA International Auto Salon.
The all-new tC sports coupe joins Scion's line of the xA and xB. Plans are to nationally roll out the tC this summer. The aim of Scion was to create a sophisticated vehicle with a sporty, high-performance driving experience. Scion tC executive chief engineer, Dr. Shigeyuki Hori, explained Scion's "goal was to give the tC the upscale look and feel, fit-and-finish, and attention-to-detail that approached that of a Lexus."
This sleek Scion tC sits low and wide, with a wheelbase of 106.3 inches and an overall width of 69.1 inches. It features a panorama moonroof, sport bucket seats and is fully loaded with a multitude of goodies, all standard features. Let's get to the important stuff first.
The vehicle is powered by a 2AZ-FE all-aluminum 2.4-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine with VVT-i (with intelligence) specifically tuned for the tC. The vehicle puts out 160 hp at 5700 rpm and 163 lb-ft of low-end torque at 4000 rpm. For added performance, a dealer-installed, full-warranty supercharger system from Toyota Racing Development (TRD) will be available in the fall. It will include a Vortech scroll compressor that integrates with the factory engine management system to boost output to approximately 200 hp.
As with the others in the Scion portfolio, personalization is highly valued. When purchasing the tC, you have approximately 40 accessories to choose from, including a carbon-fiber engine cover, polished stainless-steel muffler, unique grille, color-keyed ground effects and rear lip spoiler. It's like a one-stop customization shop right on the dealer floor. Other options you can order from TRD include a leather-wrapped shift knob and sequential shift light kit.
The second day of the event we received a technical briefing on the tC and went on a ride-and-drive through picturesque Shenandoah National Park. What could be a better opportunity to feel the handling of the vehicle while enjoying the sights and sounds of the forest? The one-hour highway drive to the national park allowed us to test the engine's low-end capabilities.
My driving partner and I were pleasantly surprised with how much low-end torque was available for mid-gear passing. Step on the pedal and the tC easily picks up speed, no matter what gear it's in. At the national park, there were many more opportunities to test the tC's handling characteristics and powerplant. The road through Shenandoah was linked with many twists, turns and elevation changes, making the drive challenging and exciting. The tight corners through the park allowed us to push the tC, attacking apex after apex. There was always good feedback from the steering wheel, allowing us to take corners much faster than we thought possible.
Many of the tC's cornering attributes are due to its 61/39 front/rear weight distribution with four-wheel fully independent suspension. The tC shares similar suspension geometry with the much sportier U.S.-spec Celica and Japan-spec Caldina. The brakes were also extremely responsive, with 10.8-inch rotors up front and 10.6-inch rotors out back. From our reverse engineering of Project tC, we found the tC front brake calipers and rotors, as well as the rear brake rotors, are identical to those on the Celica GT-S. The only thing different from the Celica GT-S braking system is the rear calipers, so you know the tC can stop on a dime.
Rolling stock consists of 17-inch six-spoke graphite alloy wheels but you can opt to upgrade to 18-inch, seven-spoke alloy wheels. If that's not enough for you, you can order some 19-inch wide-lip RH Evolution wheels with high-performance Pirelli P Zero tires from TRD. You can also hit up TRD for stiffer/shorter springs, a struts/shock kit, performance clutch and quick shifter to hold the power when the right foot gets heavy.
For all you techie and audio heads out there, we should mention the tC comes equipped with a 160-watt, six-speaker Pioneer sound system that is XM satellite radio-ready and MP3-media compatible.
You definitely get the more luxurious feel with the tC than with the xB and xA. Little things like "eyebrows" on the headlamps, a clear lens center high-mount stop light and built-in turn signal lights on the outside mirrors all give the tC a sporty, finished look. MSRP for the tC is a mere $16,465.
Look for tC Unleased events at dealerships near you this summer that will give interested parties the opportunity to test drive the vehicle and check out some already customized tCs. You might even be lucky and see Turbo's Project tC.
Be on the lookout for Scion to make appearances at such events as Hot Import Nights. So for those of you with luxury car aspirations and a subcompact budget, hit the dealership and check out the tC; it might just be the vehicle for you.
For more information, check out www.scion.com.