2011 Scion tC car review: Drive it like it looks

2011 Scion tC

2011 Scion tC

The car’s shoulders are high, or maybe it’s the roof that’s low, but whatever, the new 2011 Scion tC looks like it came from the factory with a custom fit scrappy attitude. It’s good, then, that the 2011 Scion tC drives like it looks, a boxer, all squared off and boxy, blunt to a fault, with minimal front and rear overhangs and a track that pushes wide sport tires outwards under chunky flares.

On a winding road, the 2011 Scion tC puts its head down and scrambles around corners, elbows out and feet wide for balance, with– at least on our test tC–a lusty exhaust note that says let’s do this again.

In fact, the 2011 tC is doing it again, though for 2011, it’s all new, replacing the original front-drive three-door sport coupe with more of the same, except Scion made it faster and better all around.

More all-new than many all-new car, the 2011 tC comes with an all-new, a 2.5-liter four set transversely under the hood. Variable valve timing is used on intake and exhaust camshafts, roller rocker arms for decreased friction and variable-length intake manifold for added torque without losing power on the top end. A new lightweight and sport-tuned exhaust is also part of the upgrade. The new engine gains 19 horses over last year’s tC for a max rating of 180 hp, and torque is up by 11 lb-ft.

The 2011 Scion tC Two has two six-speed transmissions available, a manual as in our test tC, or a six-speed automatic with sequential shifting.

2011 Scion tC engine

2.5-liter four-cylinder 2011 Scion tC engine

The 2011 Scion tC has what Scion calls an “enhanced” platform with MacPherson strut front suspension and, rather than the twist-beam suspension typical in the tC’s price class, a double-wishbone rear suspension yielding better ride and control. The Scion tC also gets electric power steering and bigger disc brakes.

Scion gave the 2011 tC a driver-centric interior with the controls angled around the driver, the center stack sharply wedged towards the driver. A large speedometer and tachometer are equally sized and separated by a standard info center with the usual stuff. We know this car was designed in California but the rest of the country has temperatures that actually change. We’d prefer therefore that Scion would find the outside air temperature a place of its own rather than the driver having to scroll through the tripmeter to find how cold or hot it is outside.

It’s mostly an affectation, but the driver gets a flat-bottomed steering wheel. It’s allegedly for increased legroom, but it’s not that flat bottomed and it’s not that close to anyone’s thighs. But it sure does look racer-like.

Equally racer-looking are the grippy fabric-covered sport seats and they do the same thing as race car seats do. Sufficiently supportive and retentive for bona fide track day use, the seats have big side bolsters and a cinched-down seatbelt . Most 2011 Scion tC owners will never drive their car on a race track but the seats are autocross ready and perfect sport seats for road use…which means they’re just right.

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