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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
“endearing and assertive”
Car and Driver
“a blast to drive”
Kelley Blue Book
“acceleration that's ample though not outstanding”
“needs TRD accessories to be a sporting car”
Road & Track
The addition of readily available TRD parts and pieces can turn a peppy, adequate 2008 Scion tC into a fast and furious hot hatch.
Equipped with a Camry-sourced 2.4-liter DOHC four-cylinder with variable valve timing, the torque-rich engine generates 161 horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque. “The Civic Si and the Mazda 3 s have as much horsepower, but they can't match the tC's twist,” says Car and Driver, who, like many, contends that the tC’s generous torque down low makes it an agreeable, enjoyable motivator. They clock a five-speed model at 7.4 seconds to 60 miles per hour. Edmunds also appreciates the “meatier low-end torque than smaller-engined competitors like the Honda Civic.”
Buyers can opt for an engine upgrade in the form of a TRD supercharger that boosts the power to an even 200 hp and the torque to 184 pound-feet.
Getting the power to the ground is the previous-generation Camry’s five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. Showing their age with a paucity of ratios, the transmissions nonetheless work well in the tC due in large part to torque-rich four. Kelley Blue Book finds that “the five-speed manual delivers crisp, short shifts,” but Cars.com mentions “the clutch can be jumpy.” Of the automatic, Edmunds deems it “hesitant and indecisive during enthusiastic runs on back roads.” ConsumerGuide complains that the autobox “wouldn't make a kickdown shift without flooring the gas pedal” at cruising speeds.
Labeling its chassis as “an underachiever,” Car and Driver explains “the culprit for the tC's otherwise estimable performance is weight.” Less than competitive skidpad numbers and a front-heavy, understeering demeanor can be cured by optional suspension bits that Road & Track assures “will help you get the suspension sorted.” And ConsumerGuide testifies to the platform’s basic goodness, claiming that “handling is entertaining and confident” and “steering has good feel and weight.”
While limited by front-wheel drive and a heavy nose, the 2008 Scion tC’s competent chassis shines with optional parts and pieces that complement its polished drivetrain well.