Next to the Lexus LFA and IS-F, the Scion tC is one of Toyota's most compelling cars. The chiseled styling and gangster-chic flat roofline that are new for 2011 revive the tC with an additional dose of sportiness and masculinity. Unfortunately, Scion's two-door doesn't have the driving passion to back up the looks. It starts with a driving position that's compromised by an awkward steering wheel: it's oddly shaped and awkwardly thick at the three o'clock and nine o'clock positions. The engine is plenty powerful, but it's neither eager nor satisfying to rev, and it is easily the tC's weakest attribute as a sporty coupe. To deliver on the coupe body and youthful styling, the tC needs a powertrain more in line with Volkswagen's turbocharged engine or a screaming Honda four-banger; not more power per se, but more a more aggressive character.
The cabin materials and surface finishes are low-cost, but on a dark night, the tC's simple, functional control layout with its extreme cant toward the driver looks very slick. The car is comfortable, fairly spacious, and -- in Scion tradition -- comes equipped with every feature you'd want as standard equipment. Those traits would make for a fine -- even exceptional-four-door Toyota, but I want more passion and fun from a two-door Scion.
- Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
We had the first big snowfall of the winter on the evening that I drove the tC, so I only averaged about 20 mph during my commute. It handled quite well in the snow, with no slipping or sliding.
I found it interesting that a car that is aimed at younger drivers has a stereo whose design looks to be about ten years old. The buttons are small and fiddly, especially the power button. There's also no knob to change the station; instead, there's a button that you have to push left or right, and it's easy to accidentally move it the wrong way. I suppose it's all a moot point if you use the steering-wheel-mounted controls instead, but my personal preference is to use the dash-mounted controls.
The climate controls, on the other hand, are the height of simplicity. There are three round dials, one for temp (no degree settings, just a cool/warm gradation), one for the fan speed, and one for the mode.
- Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor