A great coupe, made better

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Feature Article - posted Fri., Mar. 11, 2011
- Contributed Photo

Here’s a very real fear I have: whenever I hear a manufacturer say that a car I’ve been impressed by is being replaced by an all-new version, I always worry they may, despite an effort to make improvements, actually take a step or two backwards. Fortunately, in the case of this week’s auto, the manufacturer in question definitely went in the right direction.  The 2011 Scion tC is the second generation of this handsome two-door coupe, and while the new sheet metal should look familiar, the car has actually undergone quite a few significant changes. Scion describes their new tC as featuring “new styling, enhanced performance, and technologies that add to the driver’s experience.  It remains a tremendous value with more power, increased fuel efficiency, superior driving dynamics, and more safety features.”

The heart of Scion’s most sporting model is a new 2.5-liter Inline Four engine, that boasts Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i), as well as other technological advancements that give it nearly 20 more horsepower than its predecessor. That means 180 horsepower is on tap, and coupled with a six-speed sequential automatic transmission (a six-speed manual is also available), we galloped to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds. A six-speed automatic transmission is a tad unusual in this class (which is considered to be an economy car), and it was a very impressive unit that delivered both smooth, well-timed shifts and very good overall fuel economy.

The new chassis features a Macpherson strut front-suspension and a double-wishbone rear-suspension, and these combine to deliver quick, responsive handling and a compliant ride. The tC is a lot of fun to drive aggressively, and has a very solid feel even over rough roads (scarred no doubt by our brutal winter). The standard ABS brakes are excellent, and hauled us down from 60 mph in a well-controlled 120 feet. Traction control, eight airbags and Vehicle Stability Control are all on-board as well, to give the coupe a solid safety résumé.

Inside, the tC gets high marks for both interior room and the quality of the furnishings, with the buckets of the driver and front passenger displaying excellent side bolsters for good lateral support and stout, attractive seat material. The instrument cluster has what Scion calls a “3D” appearance; I just think it’s appealing and easy to read. The standard sound system is a pleasant surprise: 300 watts of power and speaker components borrowed from Toyota’s Lexus division. A panoramic moonroof also includes the rear passengers, which adds to a sense of space. While on that subject, another pleasant surprise is the rear seat room that is generous enough for two adults and delivers good foot room thanks to a nearly flat floor. Seatbacks can be folded forward to increase the hatchback’s cargo versatility, which is another touch of practicality in a very fun car.

The 2011 Scion tC is EPA-rated 23 MPG city/31 highway and we saw 26.6 MPG in a week of mixed driving. The base price is $19,275, and with options our MSRP came to $21,417. www.scion.com.

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