Compared with Scion's two other rides, the stubby xA four-door hatchback and that weird little box on wheels, xB, the new tC is downright conventional. Still, it has the flare and a decent level of performance to turn heads and draw some attention from young drivers.
This also is the first Scion (pronounced SIGH-on) that doesn't draw from individualistic products homegrown in Japan. This one traces its lineage to the late Toyota Celica and actually replaces that coupe in the Toyota product lineup.
Scion vehicles are sold primarily at Toyota dealerships, with the brand created to spiff up the corporate image among young drivers who consider Toyotas to be sturdy but boring cars that their parents drove. So Scion is vying to lure drivers in their teens and 20s the way Lexus did a generation ago with luxury buyers .
But aside from all that marketing stuff, tC is a sharp little car in its own right. It's not a minicar, either, but a decent-size coupe with a fairly long 106-inch wheelbase. The interior is roomy enough, though the sloping roofline cuts into rear-seat headroom.
Powered by a 160-horsepower, four-cylinder engine, this lightweight has sharp acceleration and good cruising power, more than you'd expect from a $16,000 car.
So here you have a nicely styled, sporty coupe backed by Toyota's sterling reputation and enough performance to make it fun to drive, all for the price of basic transportation.