The freshman class of the Scion tC proved to be quite successful for the “garage band” division of Toyota. In fact, since its launch as a 2005 model, the little coupe has accounted for more than a third of Scions sales despite having the shortest production run (when combining xA and xD units). This is the best selling model in its showroom so for the model makeover one thing is painfully clear – don’t screw it up. Stick to your roots, stick to what brung ya’ here and stick it to the competition.
And that is what Scion is doing.
We zipped down to the live music capital of the world to get our first experience with Scion’s sophomore tC coupe. We were not disappointed. Inside Austin city limits we got familiar with the larger, more athletic 2011 model offered with choice of manual or automatic gearboxes.
The new ride is still front wheel drive and still a two-door-only offering, but a new, beefier 2.5-liter four sits under the hood and six speeds are delivered with either transmission.
On first blush I found something familiar with the new tC profile – the c-pillar looks oddly similar to that of its wealthy cousin GS in the Lexus stable. Up front the new coupe retains characteristics of the first-gen car but with a wider, squarer jaw. The “pudge” in the middle has been to a few P90X classes and the gluteus maximus (thankfully) does not sport any droopy drawers.
Inside, the cabin offers accommodations for four and a new walk-in lever for rear seat access makes ingress/egress a breeze for the under-six-foot crowd. Seating is all cloth but the new sport steering wheel is straight off a track racer and offers drivers a more exciting bonding experience with their car.
Overhead, every tC will arrive with the all-glass panoramic roof panel featuring moonroof over front and rear seat rows and a large hatch still finishes off the rear.
We spent time in the crush of downtown traffic jams and open stretches of freeway during our time in the new tC but Travis County’s finest kept us from realizing any needle action on the right hand side of the speedo. All-in-all though this new Scion coupe does improve over its predecessor in both ride, handling and performance. By the numbers, the 2011 delivers 180hp and 173 lb. ft. of torque (vs. 161/162 previously) and either transmission choice should bring 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. The front seats are wider, the rear seats tilt, steering is now electric, airbag count is up to eight and the base audio system pumps out 300 watts. Pricing is set to begin at $18,275 for manual equipped cars with automatic gearboxes adding a grand to that figure, and the new rides should roll into Scion dealerships at the beginning of October.
As with my nephew and godson who is also entering his sophomore year in Austin, Texas, I wish the 2011 Scion tC continued success and a stellar grade point average.