2005 tC New Car Test Drive
Toyota's all-out attempt to capture America's Generation Y buyers of hot-looking, hot-performing small cars started last year with the simultaneous introductions of the Scion xA 5-door hatchback runabout and the xB microvan, but they are calling the new tC hatchback coupe the first true Scion. The tC is built on the same chassis as the Toyota Avensis, which is sold only in Europe, and uses the 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine used throughout the American Toyota lineup, but that doesn't mean this is just another Toyota. This little rocket was developed in only 13 months with a single purpose in mind.
The Scion tC means to make mincemeat of the Honda Civic that is so popular with Gen Y drivers by offering a single, very well equipped model at a nearly unbeatable low price and a menu of options that will allow owners to built cars unique to their tastes.
The engine is quiet, smooth, and plenty powerful. The steering, ride quality and handling are commendable. Braking is powerful, with ABS and electronic brake force distribution standard. This car is surprisingly quiet, the interior materials are first-rate, and attention to detail is evident. The bucket seats are comfortable and there's enough room to suit tall drivers. A 160-watt stereo is standard, and a full array of airbags is available.
This is perhaps the best small Japanese coupe we have ever driven, at a price that is ridiculously low.
The Scion tC hatchback coupe ($15,950) comes only one way, with no model name attached. (They apparently couldn't call it xC because Volvo already uses XC90 for its sport utility). It comes with all the major comfort and convenience items built in, including air conditioning, power steering, brakes, locks and mirrors, a tilt wheel, a 160-watt Pioneer 6-CD changer AM/FM setup, sport bucket seats with cloth seating and position memory, two-tiered console, reclining front and rear seats, keyless entry, engine immobilizer, cargo cover, and a dozen other items.
There are only two factory-installed options, the automatic transmission at $845 and the side and roof air bag system for $650. To make the car more palatable to more people, Scion has chosen a menu of 40 different freestanding options, more than any other car in its class, ranging from a $4500 supercharger kit good for 200 horsepower to a selection of different chrome and leather shift knobs. Special Toyota Racing Development (TRD) high-performance items for the Scion tC include 18- and 19-inch wheels, a lowering kit, struts and shock absorbers, rear anti-roll bar, a high-performance clutch, a quick shifter, a stainless steel muffler, and a shift-point indicator light kit. Toyota's high-performance arm is already working on a 300-horsepower package of parts for the lunatic fringe.