2015 Scion tC Review
Unique mix of style and content in Scion tC coupe.
Some say the track-ready Scion FR-S sports car has taken the shine off its sibling.
Having driven both vehicles, I agree that the hard-core enthusiast may have a point. But that’s still no reason to ignore the well-equipped and sporty Scion tC coupe.
What I mean by sporty, however, is in reference to the tC’s exterior resembling a squared-off Celica, with its ground hugging stance, long nose and extremely short rear deck.
In regards to its performance, I’d probably choose another adjective – more on that later.
The monospec two-door tC coupe, is priced ‘all-in’ at $21,490 for the six-speed manual version and $22,790 for the automatic, making it about $5K less than its much lauded sibling.
Sure, it may lack the FR-S sports car’s rear-drive architecture and performance underpinnings, not to mention being a few ponies short of the boxer engine’s 200 hp, but it does make up for these shortcomings in some areas that matter.
Let’s start with the usable back seat.
Where the FR-S provides a parcel shelf, with virtually no kneeroom behind any average-sized front occupants, the tC has surprising room to stretch your legs.
Headroom is a little tight for six-footers, but two modestly sized adults will fit comfortably in the recessed and reclineable back seats. And if you need to expand the otherwise generous 417-litre cargo hold, both seats fold flat to provide ample room for a couple of bikes or a load of camping gear.
Secondly, you get a panoramic glass roof.
With the car’s rising beltline, large C-pillar and small back windows, rear visibility is an issue. So is the feeling of being closed in. The expansive moonroof, however, provides much-needed daylight to brighten the tC’s charcoal interior.
Besides, the car’s high body panels and narrow glass are fundamental to its design, made better by a 2014 refresh that includes aggressively-cut headlamps flanking a massive lower grille that gulps, rather than sips at the oncoming air.
The muscular styling continues in rear, with wide shoulders and pronounced wheel arches. New LED tail lamps, along with a blacked-out valance with lower-centre trim piece (a nod to the FR-S) complete the look.
Unlike the FR-S, which gets 17-inch alloys, the tC rolls on a set of 18-inchers, which are part of a long list of standard content that includes the usuals like air conditioning, power windows and keyless entry, along with a thick, flat-bottomed steering wheel, grippy sport buckets and an intuitive centre stack that is angled towards the driver.
Standard audio is an eight-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA system with 6.1-inch display and steering wheel controls. My tester was upgraded with a Bongiovi Acoustics DPS unit with premium display audio and navigation, adding another $1,330 to the base MSRP.
Beneath the sheet metal, the tC has been made stiffer with additional spot welds, along with mods to its stabilizer bars and shocks. The electric power steering does have some feel.
Power comes from Toyota’s proven DOHC 16-valve 2.5-litre four-cylinder that produces 179 hp and 172 lb/ft of torque. I’ve driven the tC with six-speed manual, which helps in spinning up the revs to where there’s enough torque to have fun.
But it’s not as easy to plumb these upper reaches with the six-speed automatic. Paddle shifters aren’t as entertaining as choosing your own cogs, although the updated transmission now offers quicker gear changes, along with dynamic rev management that blips the throttle on downshifts. The latter feature, adopted from the FR-S, matches engine speed to wheel speed for smoother, more precise shifts.
That being said, the tC is no hot hatch, although there are plenty of aftermarket mods to make it so. Still, when you step hard on the pedal, you’ll be rewarded with a nice snarly exhaust note.
My gripes, other than the need for more power, include an abundance of hard plastic in the passenger cabin. With so many entry cars benefiting from added soft-touch surfaces, Scion should consider upping their game on the inside.
But that’s hardly a deal breaker.
Overall, the tC performed well as my daily ride, providing ample room for my family of four, and with no shortage of space for groceries or any big box shopping.
It may seem a bit of an odd duck, sporty looking but mild mannered, roomy but limited in its practicality by having two doors. Yet somehow it works.
The 2015 Scion tC even turned a few heads. Possibly because there are relatively few on the road, but it was still unexpected for a car at this price point.
It’s not a mainstream choice, but for something a little different that blends youthful styling and attitude with a modicum of practicality, the tC is worth a closer look.