Although its wheelbase and length remain unchanged, the second-generation tC shares its platform with the third-gen Toyota Avensis, on sale in Europe since early last year. An extra 1.6 inches of width — and 2.1 inches of wider rear track — lends a more grounded look, and overall styling follows the Fuse concept shown at the 2007 New York International Auto Show: swept-forward C-pillars, a flat belt line, darkened A-pillars to suggest a wraparound windshield. The headlights bear Lexus similarities, while the taillamps drop the last tC’s smoked lenses for a more conventional red. It’s a crowd-pleasing, if conservative, design, and it should provide a clean slate for tuners to customize 'til the cows come home.
Chief engineer Masayuki Nagai said overall weight is up some 80 pounds over the last tC. But so is power. A 180-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder replaces last year’s 161-hp, 2.4-liter four, with six-speed manual and automatic transmissions instead of the five-speed stick and four-speed auto. Wind the tC out toward the redline, and the engine takes on a loud, unrefined roar, but power is more than adequate for on-ramp merging and overtaking slower traffic. Scion says a stick-shift tC will hit 60 mph in 7.6 seconds, about a half-second improvement over last year. (The estimates appear conservative. In 2005, our tC hit 60 in about the same time as the new one, so perhaps the 2011 is quicker still.) The automatic takes a bit over 8 seconds, Scion says.