By David Colman
For: High Grade Standard Seats, Sunroofs, Vast Hatchback Opening
Against: Expensive TRD Options, No Paddle Shifts
At a base price of just $19,575, the Scion tC puts you in the driver’s seat of a solid, enjoyable product of Toyota engineering. Redesigned with a turret-top and slit headlights for 2011, the striking tC remains unchanged for 2012. Its specification list surprises you with unexpected extras. Under the stubby hood lies a 2.5 liter, in-line 4, decked out with variable valve timing (VVT-i), twin overhead camshafts (DOHC) and 16 valves, all of which conspire to produce a hefty 180hp. Now that almost every engine compartment is hidden from view by plastic modesty shielding, it’s a pleasure to be able to examine the workings of this Scion’s lively four binger without having to remove an obstructive cover plate.
Unanticipated extras keep on coming once you slip inside the low-roofed cabin. The driver’s seat feels like it belongs in a much more expensive vehicle, with its nubby fabric gripping your torso, and its high side bolsters clamping you like a vice. Given the fact that our test tC was optionally equipped ($2,199) with 19 inch anthracite TRD alloy wheels and high g-force generating Toyo Proxes S4 tires (235/35ZR19), the cosseting seats were more than a match for the exceptional side loads posted by this Scion. Another unexpected benefit of the tC’s redesign is the standard double sunroof that brightens the interior. This solarium effect more than compensates for the short side windows that give the new tC its tank-like profile. Once you’re settled inside, you almost feel like you’re driving a convertible. The separate rear sunroof makes even the rear seat seem like a hospitable place, though access to it is inhibited by the car’s short wheelbase and bulky front seat backs.