I eagerly await Toyota's return to building proper sports cars with the FT-86. But in the meantime, this Scion tC is one or two improvements away from being a fantastic enthusiast's bargain.
Although it's been on the market for some time, the tC remains one of the better-looking vehicles to come out of Toyota recently. I especially like the interior, which features snug bucket seats and a nicely grained dash with a dual-binnacle instrument panel that recalls the old Datsun 240Z. As you'd expect from a Scion, there's a heavy-hitting Pioneer stereo that makes even NPR talk shows sound bass-heavy.
For a base price of less than $18,000, the tC is also surprisingly competent as a sport coupe. The five-speed manual is extremely precise, and the 2.4-liter four-cylinder, though lacking high-rpm fireworks, is reasonably powerful and sounds plenty smooth. Ride is decent even with this example's optional eighteen-inch TRD wheels. The tC's only major fault is its overboosted steering, which is easily disturbed by hard braking and acceleration. Aside from that issue, though, you have a cheap little coupe that even a Honda Civic Si buyer should consider.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor