Following in the footsteps of a very successful first-generation model sure isn’t easy, but the popular and tuner-friendly team at Scion has done just that with the all-new 2011 Scion tC sports coupe. The youthful Scion brand has never been shy when it comes to embracing automotive culture, as they’ve quickly established themselves and their vehicles to appeal to the current generation of auto enthusiasts. With premium styling, innovative features and recognizable quality, the new Scion tC was designed to redefine its sports coupe segment and meet the demands of youthful enthusiasts everywhere.
“The all-new tC features styling that is both refined and aggressive, appealing to a sports coupe owner who wants to make a bold statement,” said Jack Hollis, Vice President of Scion. “When the tC first launched in 2004, it quickly became Scion’s best selling vehicle. We took the already successful tC, added a long list of enhancements, and attached a price tag that makes it a tremendous value. The new tC will no doubt launch Scion into a whole new dimension”
At first glance, the Scion tC’s exterior design projects a bold and aggressive stance. Inspired by the Calty-designed Scion FUSE concept, the tC is a high-impact sports coupe with simple and unique elements. According to Scion, Calty designers took inspiration from the athletic look of a racing helmet. As a result, one of the boldest design features of the new tC is the sleek cabin shape with wrap-around window graphics that add to its sporty profile.
The fresh front grille and menacing projector headlamps blend flawlessly with the coupe’s muscular-looking bold fender flares. The shape of its unique ‘Scion” etched taillights are very reminiscent of the last generation Toyota Celica and flow well with the overall rear styling. For 2011, the Scion tC is available in seven colors: Super White, Silver Streak Mica, Black, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Sizzling Crimson Mica, Nautical Blue Metallic and the all-new Cement.
Under the stylish hood you’ll find Scion’s new 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine, offering the latest in efficient, lightweight technology, including Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i), roller rocker arms and a Variable-induction Intake Manifold System that changes the length of the air-intake pipe to supply more torque on demand.
The new engine produces a plentiful 180 horsepower (that’s 19 more than the previous model), and performance is further improved through a new intake-manifold design and a sport-tuned lightweight exhaust system.
The tC also offers drivers the choice of two all-new six-speed transmissions, each adding driving excitement and excellent fuel economy. The manual transmission is engineered to deliver direct and precise sporty shifts. The automatic transmission features sequential shifting, providing an additional fun-to-drive experience for any enthusiast.
We hit the open road behind the wheel of the new Scion tC to gather our own driving impressions. The tC delivered a smooth yet sporty ride, with light low speed steering and stiffer high speed performance handling. All lane changes and turning maneuvers can be made with confidence, as the suspension felt firm and provided predictable handling characteristics and feedback.
According to Masayuki Nagai, Scion tC Chief Engineer, “The new tC’s wider track and lower floor help provide good balance and a low center of gravity. Increased rigidity in the rear suspension member and body improved stability and special tuning on the MacPherson front and double-wishbone rear suspension enhanced handling. Better damping characteristics also improved ride comfort and noise and vibration. New 18-inch wheels and tires enhance both performance and appearance… while an increased rotor size improves brake performance.”
Overall acceleration is quicker than you’d expect for such an economical car and it’s plenty of fun to drive with solid torque throughout lower gears. Even the sequential shifts with the automatic transmission felt fast and direct. Pushing the car through winding roads and sweeping turns feels very stable and easy to control.
The OEM disc brake system on all four wheels performs extremely well, with smooth stopping power under extreme braking and daily driving situations. If that isn’t enough, the beefy TRD brake kit might be more your style, providing “stop on a dime-like” performance.
For those tuners that want to add even more excitement to their drive, Scion has continued to offer a number of TRD and Genuine Scion accessories / upgrades including 19-inch wheels, big brake kits, lowering springs, cold air intakes and more.
“With Scion’s DNA of authenticity, community and customization, we’re all about accessories that help owners make their own statement about who they are. With over 45 genuine Scion accessories ranging from driving performance to styling to audio, there are plenty of options for owners to take their rides to that next level. And that’s just the start. Between Optomize, TRD and Genuine Scion accessories, we will continue to add more parts that our owners desire,” said Jack Hollis, Vice President of Scion.
The second-generation Scion tC also adds more safety and driver technology. As the additional supplemental restraint system (SRS) front passenger knee airbags bring the total number of airbags to eight! All 2011 tCs come standard with Anti-lock Brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), Traction Control (TRAC), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and a brake override system. The tC also allows drivers to turn off the VSC and/or the TRAC features. Additional safety features include a tire pressure monitoring system and newly adopted active front headrests.
Inside, the sporty design of the Scion tC translates into a look and feel Scion describes as sophisticated, sporty and functional. The driver-centered cockpit features a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel with a leather-wrapped sporty feel and a racing-inspired flat bottom design. The chubby steering wheel offers great grip and road feel, plus the flat bottom provides additional thigh room for more comfort.
The illuminated gauge cluster and dash display have a three-dimensional appearance with large meters and needle indicators for good visibility and easy to read information. The trip meters also include gauges for outside temperature, average MPG, and an ECO-drive indicator on automatic transmission models that helps the driver maximize the Scion tCs fuel efficiency.
Engineers also made significant strides that increase interior comfort and convenience. Key interior features include a driver walk-through memory-seat function for both the seat and backrest on the front seats along with a walk-in lever located at shoulder level on the front seats. This is very handy when it comes to rear passenger entry and exit from the sporty coupe. The seats are upholstered with premium two-tone fabric, featuring firmer seat bolsters, a six-way adjustable driver’s seat and 60:40 split rear seats that can even recline up to 10 degrees for comfort. Staying true to Scion tradition, the tC also includes an abundance of handy storage space throughout the cabin.
The 2011 Scion tC also features a powerful standard 300-watt audio system with a total of eight-speakers and a Pioneer AM/FM/CD head unit with USB iPod connectivity. The 160-watt Pioneer head unit powers the tweeters, mid-range and full-range speakers, while a separate 140-watt, two-channel amplifier is designed to drive power to the 6x9-inch door-mounted subwoofers. Music is controlled through the head unit and steering wheel audio controls.
The optional Alpine Premium audio system has the same basic features as the standard Pioneer unit, but adds a 4.3-inch color TFT touch-panel screen, HD Radio technology, Media Expander (MX) and front and rear RCA outputs. The RCA outputs allow for up to three amplifiers (front, rear and subwoofer). The optional audio system is also navigation and back-up camera ready.
Both the standard and premium head units retain key Scion audio system features such as Scion Sound Processing (SSP) where listeners can choose from three pre-set equalizer settings, satellite radio compatibility and MP3, AAC and WMA capability. In addition, both units can adjust volume control based on driving speed.
Scion also offers an optional plug-in navigation unit for the Alpine Premium audio system. Navigation and audio functions utilize the head unit screen for display. Features include voice guidance; day / night screen modes; three map views (3-D, north up, and heading up), map coverage across the USA and Canada (including Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Hawaii), 200 available address book entries, more than six million points of interest, plus English, French and Spanish modes.
Scion has even made this navigation unit customizable by allowing the user to change the vehicle position icon from an arrow to an icon of the tC, which can be customized to all seven 2011 Scion tC exterior colors.
A Scion Navigation System is also available, featuring an audio/video/navigation unit with a seven-inch LCD touch screen. The system also has iPod connectivity; SSP; Alpine Equalizer; Alpine Focus, which allows users to move the center of the sound field; Clear Sound Effecter (CSE) to enhance compressed digital music data; Alpine Digital Sound Processing (DSP); automatic volume adjust; and satellite radio capability.
This audio system also features HD Radio capabilities include HD Tagging, rich sound and on-screen text information, as well as Bluetooth Hands-free mobile phone communication and Bluetooth Streaming Audio.
If the lengthy lists of features, upgraded performance and impressive design aren’t enough to get your mojo going, the 2011 Scion tC delivers it all at an attractive high-value price too. The tC starts with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $18,275 (USD) when equipped with a manual transmission, and $19,275 (USD) when equipped with an automatic transmission. The all-new Scion tC is positioned to attract consumers that demand a high level of standard equipment and quality in an affordable package. The 2011 Scion tC adds new styling, enhanced performance, and updated technology to its already successful formula, while retaining its strong value, fuel efficiency and driving dynamics.