The tC is the Scion that goes into 2008 with the fewest changes. In fact, everything mechanical carries over. However, 2008 tCs will look slightly different from 2007s because of changes to the front and rear body pieces. They'll sound different, too, thanks to a standard iPod hookup and a Pioneer subwoofer.
Jim Farley, Scion's vice president, said the tC's steering, suspension and brakes were tuned with a European bias. In fact, the car's platform is shared with the Avensis, a Toyota model that's sold in Europe. The tC hatchback coupe uses a 160-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine.
For 2008, the tC's split grille has been touched up. Now, the upper grille is mesh and the lower one is a lattice-type design. The headlights have black trim. At the rear, the tC gets new brake lights. A panoramic glass moonroof is standard. Side mirrors incorporate turn-signal indicators — a feature typically found on upscale luxury cars. A power hatch release is standard. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels hold 45-series tires, and 18-inchers are optional.
The Spec Package adds a fixed glass roof, 16-inch steel wheels with covers (surely meant to be replaced with custom hoops) and 205/55R16 tires. Azure Pearl and Black Cherry Pearl paint colors are out, replaced by Sizzling Crimson Mica and Wave Line Pearl.
Changes inside include silver-colored accents on the center cluster and the assist handles in the ceiling of the car. There's also new seat fabric, as well as standard iPod connectivity and a standard Pioneer subwoofer for 2008.
Five passengers fit inside the tC, and the driver's seat has height and thigh adjustments. The 60/40-split rear seat has three-point seat belts and head restraints for three occupants. The rear seats also recline 45 degrees.
The center console includes an armrest, and keyless entry is standard. Additional standard equipment includes air conditioning, cruise control, a Pioneer stereo, and power windows, locks and mirrors. With the front and rear passenger seats folded flat, more than 8.5 feet of space is available for carrying long items.
Spec Package models delete the steering-wheel audio controls and get a urethane steering wheel and 12-volt power outlet.
Generating 161 hp, the all-aluminum 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine incorporates Variable Valve Timing with intelligence. A four-speed automatic and a five-speed manual are available.
Cruise control and an engine immobilizer are deleted from Spec Package models.
All-disc antilock brakes and a driver's knee airbag are standard. Side-impact and side curtain airbags are also standard.
The tC gets more appealing after a few days of driving, but it's not as sporty as its shape and image suggest. It's an ordinary — if distinctive-looking — small car.
Acceleration can be spirited if the engine is pushed, but the four-cylinder sounds strained and noisy at higher rpm. The gearshift flicks easily between ratios, but the clutch can be jumpy, which makes smooth takeoffs a bit of a chore.
While the tC maneuvers easily and tracks capably, occupants aren't very insulated from chassis commotion over bumps and holes. The suspension reacts quickly enough and not excessively, but rougher pavement isn't pleasant.
Visibility over the driver's left shoulder is restricted, but the rearward view is good. The short seat bottoms are typical of small cars; the front seats are supportive, and backseat space isn't bad. Front headroom is marginal.
The deep-set gauges are easy to read most of the time, and they're orange-lit at night. The huge glove box is easy to reach, but the storage area below the hatch looks a bit squat.