In the early '70s, American muscle cars ruled the streets as teenagers rocked to the beats of Led Zepplin and The Doors. While the 1970s might reach too far back for today's youth, it was their parents who were still in their adolescent prime, hanging out at the local burger joint as they watched Camaros and Mustangs rumbling up and down the streets to the tune of "Earth Angel." More than a decade separates today's generation from our mom and dad's wild child era, but the love and appreciation for tire smoking, earth-rattling horsepower has been transformed from yesteryear to today.
So what does present day society have to offer the hardcore car enthusiasts of today? How does a vehicle that whimpers to the tone of 80hp sound to you? Unimpressed? We sure are, regardless of the fact that these "cute" looking vehicles are chugging along on our freeways, sporting a 37mpg fuel-efficient engine. I noticed more and more of these soap box derby toys popping up on every freeway and thought to myself one day, "have enthusiasts, along with aftermarket manufacturers, lost our passion in building vehicles destined for high horsepower?" The same raw power that our parents and their generation were so hungry for? As if a higher source from above heard my plea, I was pleasantly surprised the following day when I receivied an e-mail from Mike Chung of GReddy USA with the heartwarming news that they had just released a new 2004-2005 Scion tC turbo kit. How serious of a turbo kit has GReddy developed you ask? One that can kick start the factory 2.4-liter engine and boost up its rated horsepower with an additional 100hp. Oh boy! Horsepower ... here we come.
What's not to love about the Scion TC? Take into consideration that these vehicles are equipped with a slew of amenities along with a reasonable sticker price that's friendly to any college student's budget. One-touch power windows, cruise control, keyless entry, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and a factory optional TRD package which includes 18-inch wheels, a full TRD spoiler kit and a wing are among many of the reasons why the tC has been one of the most popular compact vehicles in the U.S. for three years running. Powered by a stout 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine equipped with Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i), the factory 2.4-liter powerplant pumps out a respectable 158hp. Although this vehicle is a definite torque monster, the tC is not remotely close to a race car in factory trim. GReddy looked to change the image of the Scion-badged machine in September of 2006, with the debut of their highly anticipated tC bolt-on turbo kit. Sold as an intercooled, racing turbo kit, the GReddy tC kit has been rated to deliver an additional 100hp at a GReddy preset boost level of 8.5psi.
Delivering the new-found 258hp output is a GReddy / Mitsubishi TD05H-18G turbocharger with an 8cm actuator which GReddy engineers spent long hours in research and development, ensuring tC owners would gain maximum horsepower without sacrificing drivability. Already proven with the most hardcore of vehicles, the TD05H-18G has been a long time favorite among performance enthusiasts as it's been put to the ultimate test on both the track and public highways. Among many of the quality components sold with the GReddy kit is a Type 31 V-spec front-mounted intercooler that sits tucked away behind the front grill. It's up to you whether you're looking for that stealth look or are going to use a set of cutting tools to expose the efficient aluminum intercooler system, which happens to require minimal cutting of the factory bumper. The GReddy SUS header-type racing manifold is by far one of the nicest in terms weld quality and design. Pulling a random exhaust manifold off the shelf, I noticed the clean welds between the runners and flange, which in the world of turbocharging translates to a free flowing system, virtually eliminating any loss in horsepower. Also used is a cast ductile iron downpipe with a bell mouth housing whose design creates a longer lasting unit that can take abuse over the years without cracking or deteriorating.
The GReddy tC turbo kit provides instant horsepower that requires intermediate to advanced skill levels in wrenching and less than a day's time to install. With an MSRP of $3595 for the intercooled racing turbo kit minus an optional fuel management system, the tC turbo kit offers the consumer the flexibility to upgrade as demands for more horsepower grow over time. GReddy understands the importance of having the proper air/fuel ratio when dealing with forced induction and sells two optional fuel management systems for the Scion tC. Fuel management system number one comes with a pre-programmed e-Manage, 440cc/min injectors, injector harness, and the necessary clips to ease the installation process (msrp. $795). Using the E-Manage system is as simple as plugging in the unit as a piggyback system with the factory ECU. The e-Manage has been preprogrammed and can offer additional tuning and airflow maps that are not present in the factory unit. Using the e-Manage offers the consumer a smooth idle and engagement with its 16x16 injector duty cycle map using the larger 440 injectors.
If purchasing the optional fuel management makes you hesitant, consider the fact that this unit can be reprogrammed at a later date if you should ever decide to perform a full engine buildup or turn up the boost. Option number two comes with a pre-programmed e-Manage Ultimate system and four 440cc injectors for the more hardcore tC owners on the market (MSRP $1175). In addition to standard e-Manage airflow-based adjustments, the Ultimate version includes new and upgraded features including improved direct map control for adding and subtracting fuel and ignition, the ability to switch between 2 preset tuning maps (i.e. street or race program) and maps for individual cylinder adjustment for both fuel and ignition. An additional sub injector control option is already hardwired and available on both the e-Manage and e-Manage Ultimate.
So what does the tC turbo kit feel like on the streets? We're not exactly sure because this is an off-road-use-only turbo kit (ahem) but I went along on a driving impression as we applied a heavy right foot to the accelerator through all four gears. The tC performed some tire smoking spins through first and second gear as it refused to gain traction. A series of tight turns through numerous banking corners also netted some tire squealing as the vehicle quickly shot through the RPM band. If you're in the market for the GReddy turbo kit, we highly recommend a limited-slip differential to control the newfound horsepower. Oh, and should I mention the (former) cool guy in the Lotus Elise that got his ass handed to him by the time the Scion was boosting in third gear? I'd rather not. You never know, his girlfriend might be reading this article.