It’s amazing to think just how far the Scion brand has arrived in only decade. From the beginning, they knocked us, enthusiasts and consumers alike-right off their feet with the oddball xA and xB, introducing our country to the concept of Kei cars that are certainly popular and commonplace in Japan due to their size and affordability, all while supplying the features most all of us want, and now expect, from a new car. They paved the way in which for a specific niche with some other makers releasing small cars of their own, all of these helped to generate the B-segment. A few years later, it only made sense for Scion to turn more than a new leaf by bringing something sportier to their roster, a front-wheel-drive coupe designated “tC”, an automobile that was unlike its econo-friendly siblings in lots of ways (actual power, with an optional supercharger in that case desired; decent handling) but very much so like its econo-friendly siblings in others (affordably priced with great mass appeal). Other models followed, including the space-conscious iQ, an updated/bigger xB and also the xA’s replacement, the xD. And need we remind you of Scion’s greatest feat in the past year: the debut of one of the biggest game changers to come along in years, all while adhering to the realm of being nearly everything one would want from a reasonableas the main attraction at this year’s New York International Auto Show following the announcement of the Scion 10 Series (a limited-edition roll out of all five Scion models in the premium color and specific features found only on this release), Scion pulled the cover off the restyled ’14 tC. As you can already see, it’s a more aggressive step up looking at the predecessor with a lot more angular headlamps, LED accents paired into the foglight area and a good refresh for your front/rear bumpers; overall it maintains that familiar tC silhouette. The rear bumper actually draws some inspiration from the FR-S, so if you noticed that, give yourself a pat on the back. Inside, the girthy steering remains, the front seats will slide back into the last place you had it in before your friend got in the back and you receive a very cool 6.1 touchscreen head unit, which comes standard and includes the standard essentials like HD radio, Bluetooth connectivity and iPod/USB/aux jack inputs. Fork out an additional $1,198 and your stock unit is upgraded with BeSpoke/aha, which gives you navigation, one shot address entry (voice commandable, even while driving), POIs that come as you approach them, aha Radio stations (check out Scion’s own AV channel) and it isIn the arenas of performance, there aren’t any major highlights since the car comes with the same 2.5L as the previous generation. You could complain regarding this, a total of 179 and 172lb-ft, all a consequence of tighter emissions controls, though you probably won’t notice the 1hp loss. While the 6-speed manual is a more pleasant driving experience overall, the car transmission is still really good-and extremely high tech. Being equipped with an Artificial Intelligence ECU, it “learns” your driving habits and adjusts to them by smoothing out shift transitions. Like the FR-S, it also has Dynamic Rev Management, that can effectively blip the throttle on downshifts. Scion also went in and improved chassis strength and tuned the suspension for a more sporty feel thanks to additional improved and bracing anti-sway bars. Perhaps the FR-S is responsible for receiving the tC to up its game inside the performance category? Not a bad thing!
Though the FR-S still reigns supreme because the key Scion model, the tC still earns my respect like a very close runner-up. The tC was Scion’s highest selling car, with 31% versus the FR-S’ 16% in 2012 sales. Updated with a new Pioneer head unit, a sportier “feel” and even an alternative to grab a restricted 10 Series edition, the 2014 tC will have no problem maintaining its status because the leader of the pack.