Cheap thrills isn’t something you hear much of these days and when it comes to finding something thrilling for under $20k, your options turn a mere bleak with cars like the Fiat 500 or Hyundai Veloster. Only problem is, those aren’t what you call practical and if you want the fun models, back into the $20k’s they go. So, this is where Scion steps in, offering not only a stylish sports coupe, but something large enough to fit more than a friend and all for under $20k.
Refreshed for 2014, this Scion tC dressed in Metallic Grey paint scored a few design pointers from the more agile Scion FR-S. You don’t have to be a Scion aficionado to notice the newly sport enhanced front face with a larger wider grille, sharp trimmed front projection headlamps, LED accents lights and a rigid splitter. Continuing the refreshed look, the rear continues the sport theme with clear protruding LED taillights and rear sport diffuser with chrome exhaust tip that makes an exhilarating note at 6,000 rpms. Carried over from previous models the tC continues to receive a panoramic moon roof and LED indicated side mirrors as a standard feature. Lastly, everyone’s eyes seemed to glimmer to the standard 18” alloy wheels with painted black inserts as it added that final touch of perfection.
Inside, the tC’s dash is exclusively designed, covered in a funky distinctive plastic with a split bump-textured silver trim, that enhances a sporty feel. For 2014 Scion added a standard 6.1” Pioneer Touch-Screen display with AM/FM HD Radio, AUX/USB Port with iPod Connectivity and Bluetooth Technology. With limited features navigating the menus and audio selections has was quick and responsive, all-though I was disappointed that there was no Satellite Radio available. Navigation by BeSpoke can be fitted, but only by the dealer for $1,200; an option I can live without.
Interior volume is what’s most impressive; sport inspired black cloth seats with silver inserts intensifies the interior look. The oddly shaped high dashboard allows for front passengers to be closer giving a generous amount of leg room for rear passengers. In addition, even with a panoramic moon roof, head room is plentiful for front passengers, though tall rear passengers may graze their head with the rear windshield, but given the extra legroom theirs room to slouch. The seats are comfortable for cruising around town; however, if on the road for a period time you might find yourself stopping at the rest stop to stretch your legs. When the tC gets pushed to the limits on mountain curved roads, I found the seats were well bolstered and supportive, cocooning me in the driver seat.
Unlike a typical coupe the tC has a hatch opening door, thus giving a lavish sized trunk and cargo area. Larger items can be stored by the splitting 60/40 folding seat. There is a pressing issue with the trunk area, like most hatches there is a cargo cover to cover your precious valuables, whereas the tC does not, but for $80 one can be fitted.
Turn the key and engage the 2.5L 4-cylinder engine; developing 179 horsepower, power is delivered to the front wheels with 172lbs feet of torque through a six speed manual transmission that will get you from 0 to 60 mph in roughly 7.5 seconds. For those who like to disengage the traction control be warned, off the line you’ll get quite the wheel spin, but once you shift into from first to second the traction control reengages spoiling any future fun.
The standard leather wrapped flat bottom steering wheel feels thick and comfortable for excellent grip and whether you’re dodging traffic in the city or on a curving mountain road; handling is direct and precise. Going into corners is smooth and well balanced, body roll is kept to a minimal and under steer was unnoticeable, though I didn’t push it that far to its limits. The 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes felt firm and abrupt with very little play from the petal.
Owning a sports coupe can come with its fair share of compromises, like the impractical sun visor, its better used for vanity than blocking the sun and the rear ‘C’ Pillar design poses a blind spot issue. A soft suspension is the biggest comprise one would make. The sport tuned MacPherson strut front suspension and double wishbone rear suspension is stiff, but not unbearable. Every bump and crack in the road will get noticed – you get used to it after a while. What you don’t have to compromise is fuel economy; within the city I was able to average 24 mpg while on the highway 30 mpg with a total combined average of 28.7 mpg. Although it’s not required, fueling with Premium grade fuel, filling the 14.5 gallon fuel tank will cost under $40 with an expected fuel range of 300 to 350 miles.
The Scion tC is not your typical everyday family hauler, but it is your perfect everyday sports coupe. Something that you can drive to the office during the week and hit up the track on the weekend. It looks astonishingly amazing, plenty of room for you and your friends, fuel efficient and has 179 reasons to have some fun.