The Scion tC may not get as much attention as its friskier rear-wheel drive FR-S sibling, but the sport compact coupe is a fun little car in its own right that’s priced well and looks a lot better following last year’s facelift.
There aren’t any exterior changes for 2015 except the introduction of two new colours: Blizzard Pearl (replacing Alpine White) and Cosmic Gray Mica (replacing Classic Silver). The latter was the colour painted on my press car, a really cool dark gunmetal shade that looks almost black.
New design cues were incorporated in the refreshed tC that make it more closely resemble the current signature style resonating across all three of Toyota’s brands. A gaping black grille dominates the front bumper, and the front headlamps are sharpened with a cutout that flows into the bumper cover.
The rear takes a bit after the FR-S, with a big blackout lower bumper valance that houses an F1-style deflector in the centre. The taillights are a bunch of circular LEDs clustered in a round housing, and inside, a huge panoramic moonroof brightens up the Dark Charcoal themed interior. Although the vehicle is technically called a coupe, it’s actually got a hatchback form factor making it not just a looker but also practical. It swallowed all the luggage I threw at it for a week-long trip with room to spare.
Every tC receives some polished 18-inch split five-spoke wheels shod with 225/45R18 tires. The wide rubber comes in handy when you’re driving spiritedly, something you might want to do often given that the 2.5 L, 4-cylinder engine produces 179 horsepower at a lively 6,000 rpm.
Drivers have the choice between a 6-speed manual transmission and a 6-speed automatic with Dynamic Rev Management, yet another item borrowed from the FR-S. When the computer selects a lower gear, the engine is “blipped” to match the rpms resulting in a smoother downshift and providing instant power when you step on the throttle.
I had the automatic, which wasn’t as bad because the 2015 Scion added steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters to all the cars without a standard tranny. Prior to this year, the only way to manually select gears was by using the shift knob. People who prefer this method can still bump the knob over to the left “S” mode and then push forward to go up a gear, or pull back to go down one.
The handling of the tC was tweaked as part of the major refresh that included changes to the shock absorbers and spot welds for increased body stiffness. The electric power steering was re-tuned to provide more feel and feedback. All in all, everything feels tight with wheels on the road, and even though it’s front-wheel drive, I didn’t feel any overwhelming understeer when tossing it into corners at speed.
One of my favourite features has nothing to do with the vehicle itself: For all you get, the MSRP of the 2015 tC is a thrifty $21,490 with the manual, $22,790 with the automatic.
Motor: 2.5 L, 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 179 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 172 @ 4,100 rpm
Gearbox: 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters
Layout: front-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 10.2 L/100 km (city) 7.7 L/100 km (highway)
Benjamin Yong is a freelance writer from Vancouver, B.C., and belongs to the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/b_yong