Scion fell into a sales funk last year, with the teensy xD and the bloated new-generation xB falling prey to the likes of Kia and Hyundai. The Scion tC? The same story. The Celica-ish coupe was in dire need of a replacement--and a personality infusion.
It's nearly a mission accomplished for the new 2011 tC, which we drove earlier this week in San Diego. The tC wears new lines that might remind you of a helmet--or a Nissan GT-R--and more room's been scooped out of its cabin. It's still four-cylinder only, though power's up to 180 hp and all the drivetrain bits have been massaged for something very nearly sporty in feel.
We're not huge fans of the collision of hard plastics on the dash, or the floppy vinyl that shades the sunroof--but we're sure you can get over them by choosing something from the big Scion accessories catalog, something like TRD stabilizer bars or Bluetooth or an Alpine navigation and audio system with a touchscreen interface and iPod controls. (That turbocharger you've been longing for? It's a ways off, Scion execs say.)
It's no longer a great value, compared to the Kia Forte Koup or even a heavily discounted, end-of-life Ford Focus two-door. The 2011 tC is priced from $18,995 including destination; with the automatic it's $19,995. Toss on all those add-on features and you could be looking at $24,000--which sounds a lot like a much faster base 2011 Mustang V-6 to us.