- Chances to upgrade at the dealership
- Good ride quality for a coupe
- Smooth, strong engine
- Interior materials: Are they upgraded enough?
- Lacks sharp driving feel
- Tight headroom
The shadow cast by the FR-S is a long one, but the 2015 tC manages to have an interesting personality on its own.
Although the Scion tC sporty coupe has been upstaged at dealerships by the brand's rear-drive FR-S sports car—which isn't quite as practical as the tC but is far more entertaining to drive—the 2015 tC still adds up to a competent liftback coupe that may better meet needs as a sporty daily driver.
There's nothing significantly new under the hood for 2015, but the tC remains a solid performer. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, making 179 horsepower and 173 pound-feet of torque, is paired with a six-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic and can get to 60 mph in 7.6 seconds with the manual or 8.3 seconds with the automatic—this year adding downshift rev-blipping. The electric power steering feels good, as do the big all-disc brakes, and ride quality's obviously a priority, as the big 18-inch wheels and tires don't make things too harsh. Last year, Scion claimed to have increased body rigidity and made “modifications to stabilizer bar hardware.”
As we ponder why to purchase this car over the FR-S, there are still some reasons to choose the front-wheel-drive 2015 Scion tC—like ride quality, or features for the money. And as if in admission of the New Kid on the Block, Scion dialed the tC up last year with “more assertive styling.” With the current generation notchback coupe already buffed-up and chunkier in appearance over the previous, softer hatchback, this model was already far from subtle. But with LED accent lighting and taillamps, new upper- and lower grille treatments, new headlamps, and a blacked-out lower rear valance—plus new 18-inch dark-gray-finish alloy wheels—the tC does keep its look assertive, if a bit overwrought and high-shouldered.
Inside, the design carries over, with enough design nuance where it counts, in the cut-tube gauges and M&M-shaped climate controls, but the big news is that Scion has upgraded all the materials, with lighter-colored fabrics.
Don't expect any packaging magic inside the 2015 tC; all the usual rules of sporty coupes apply here. Accommodations are snug in front and in back, with tight headroom all around (a sunroof is standard and makes things a bit worse than they could be). One unexpected twist is that the back seat reclines a bit. Cargo versatility is also somewhat better than you might expect, with the front seats tilting forward easily and a trunk large enough (with deep side bins) for several roll-on bags. One thing that has been improved recently: Scion has subbed in some “premium materials,” and we hope that means quelling the abundance of hard plastics from previous model years.
Value for money has been one of the major selling points for the tC; for less than $20k, it includes things like power windows, locks, and mirrors; cruise control; steering-wheel audio controls; and a sunroof. Last year the tC became the first model in the Scion family to get Display Audio systems, with a 6.1-inch touch screen, HD Radio, and built-in Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio-streaming capability. In addition, Scion now offers an upgrade BeSpoke Premium audio system with Aha smartphone connectivity for integrated Internet radio.
Shoppers considering the 2015 Scion tC, as before, have plenty of aftermarket appearance and performance upgrade possibilities available through the dealership. There's also a new Scion 10 Series model, in a special color, Silver Ignition, with details like silver seat belts, an LED-illuminated Scion badge, and sequential badging, plus LED running lamps, dual automatic climate control, and push-button start.