May 01, 2014 By Kevin C. Limjoco

2014 Scion tC

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Words and photos by Kevin C. Limjoco

We all know that the Scion brand is Toyota’s pure North American line of modest cars directed to the youth since 2002, but much like how Lexus first began in the same territory in 1989 on the opposite side of the market spectrum as Toyota’s answer to the premium segment, I am hoping that these outstanding products start being offered everywhere else.

Contrary to its name, meaning the descendant of a family or heir, referring both to the brand’s offerings and their target market, the division’s product range has matured to a breakout point beyond its initial purpose of existence. Scion’s popularity is steadily increasing because of their emphasis on value engineering and high overall quality. Let us forget for a moment that their flagship model, the FR-S, which is Scion’s version of the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ, is swallowing copious amounts of tuner and car/motorsports enthusiasts. That is an obvious knockout hit. Now look at the car you see here, the newly updated tC, which is actually Scion’s best-selling model. The new car just got new headlamps, new hood, new grill with LED accents, an FR-S–like rear valance, and new LED rear lights. What is important to point out is that even if the tC is supposed to be a budget car or entry level car, it is more sophisticated than most people realize. First, its chassis is not based on the Corolla but on the larger Corona/Avensis, best known as the European-sold mid-size saloon that uses fully independent suspension on all corners. So immediately you fill find that the 2+2 2-door coupé is very spacious inside and very planted on the road.

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In fact, the tC is a very brisk performer that actually handles extremely well belying its modest presentation. The obvious differences in cost savings are not in any dynamic parameter, they are in fitment and execution. For example, the engine bay is not dressed up at all; you simply see the raw engine as it was craned out of the foundry. Behind the steering wheel, you will definitely hear a lot more road and engine noise but not like a cheap car that should be scrapped but more like a stripped-out racecar without any insulation. The new tC’s rigidity has also been increased with extra spot-welding in key areas. There are no creaks and inferior workmanship; instead, there is simple purpose and straightforward usability. The dashboard is very spartan but the steering wheel looks, feels, and performs brilliantly. The audio system looks boring but it sounds like the Boston Philharmonic compared to the system on the FR-S or even the new Toyota Corolla.

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In that very naked engine bay is a 179 bhp 2.5-liter mated to a 6-speed automatic that actually blips the throttle on downshifts and is twice as quick as any system in the Toyota lineup. It shifts quicker and with better response that even on the Avalon. The tC is actually a very fast and affordable car that I would love to have if I was younger; in many ways it reminds me of the supercharged MR2 that I drove in college.

You can see that Scion is doing so well that they now have 3 (Monogram Series, Scion 10 Series, and Release Series) sets of special limited edition cars treating the entire family range for the more discerning who are trying to get the very most out of their dollar while endeavoring to get some form of individuality in the process. Isn’t that really cool? That you can have a factory bespoke unit with an outlandish color combined with body kits (one of them proudly Filipino-designed), unique interior details like an illuminated shift knob that is solar powered and even a tasteful center exhaust? Come on, Toyota, release the Scion’s to the rest of the world please!

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Engine: Inline-4, 2494 cc, dohc 16V, Dual VVT-i, 6-speed AT
Max Power: 179 bhp @ 6000 rpm
Max Torque: 172 lb ft @ 4100 rpm
0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 7.5 sec.
Top Speed: 218 km/h (136 mph)
Fuel Mileage: 23 mpg City & 31 mpg Highway
Price as Tested: US$ 20,965.00
+: Forgivably coarse yet hugely entertaining and competent
–: An abundance of obvious cost cutting measures
Editor’s rating: 9.5/10

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