Are you a Scion FR-S fan? Me too. But what if you needed a little utility along with your fun? What if you needed a usable backseat and ample space in the hatch paired with your 6-speed manual transmission? And suppose you wanted to pay less than $20,000? I’d direct you to the 2014 Scion tC.
|STATS||Starting Retail Price||As Tested Price||HP / Lb-Ft|
|2014 Scion tC||$19,210||$22,260||179/172|
|EPA Rating MPG||As Tested MPG|
|Rating: BUY IT!||23/31 Combined 26||Combined 27.1|
Visually, the 2014 Scion tC is a stunner. The front fascia is confidently aggressive, featuring a large grill, vertical fog lights, and headlights with a nifty lightning bolt design. The 18″ wheels, more likely than not designed by Spider-Man, are standard and my test model came wearing Yokohama P225/45 tires. The rear gets a nifty little spoiler and the Absolute Red color nearly broke my camera lens.
Under the hood, Scion gives us a 2.5L 4 cylinder, knocking out 179 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque. For those of you keeping score, the FR-S has more power, at 200 horses, but a mere 151 lb-ft of torque. Power goes to the front wheels via a standard 6-speed manual transmission. An automatic is available. EPA fuel ratings for the manual are 23 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway, and 26 mpg combined. In my week of combined city and highway driving, with a high rate of high revving that 4-banger, I saw 27.1 mpg.
Inside is a driver focused cockpit, with a thick, flat-bottomed steering wheel and a 6.1″ touchscreen angled towards the left seat. Although the materials are a little stingy, it’s still a fine place to spend some time. My test model came with the optional BeSpoke Premium Audio for an additional $1198. It sounded great, but it does not come with satellite radio. In the real world, I’m not sure I would spring for it. The navigation system got the job done but inputs were slow and the graphics could use an update.
Fortunately the sport bucket seats are comfortable and supportive, since you’ll more than likely be diving into corners and channeling your inner Mario Andretti. Torque kicks in at a relatively low 4100 rpm, giving you plenty of squeal off the line yet with no torque steer. Although I wanted the steering to be a bit heavier, most will find it nicely weighted and sharp. On the whole, the car is nimble and fun to toss around in the corners. The six-speed manual is a tad sloppy, and I would gladly pay extra for a short throw shifter. It’s not bad as is, but the car deserves better.
The ride is very smooth, soaking up broken pavement with ease. It’s not nearly as stiff as the FR-S, yet it still stays relatively planted in the corners. While waiting at red lights, the engine so quiet and the vibration so slight, I had to check the tach to make sure I was still running.
The hatch offers great utility, with 14.7 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, more than enough to haul around a 33″x 10.5″ off road tire with a 15″ beadlock wheel that I destroyed at a race in Barstow. Even more can be had if you fold down those seats. And speaking of those rear seats, they are actually usable, viable seats for real human beings, even adult ones. Legroom is 36.6″ compared to 29.9″ in the Scion FR-S.
There are a few fun competitors in the “warm hatch” segment. The Hyundai Veloster really appeals to the quirky crowd, and the VW Beetle is available with a turbo or TDI, which opens it up to those who place a high value on fuel economy.
The Scion tC is like the FR-S Lite. It’s got enough power and torque, but you don’t have to stay up in the red to access them. The ride isn’t as stiff and there is more usable space. Plus it starts at $6,000 less to boot.
You’ll shell out $19,210 for the base tC, but with our optional audio, rear spoiler, and a few other geegaws, it comes to $22,260. Still a great price for a fun and practical sport coupe with a six-speed manual transmission.
On the TFLcar scale of:
- Buy it!
- Lease it!
- Rent it!
- … or Forget it!
I have to give the 2014 Scion tC a Buy It!
Watch Roman and Nathan put the Scion tC up against the FR-S in the ultimate hot lap showdown!
Emme is a driver, reviewer, and rabble rouser. She is the principle driver and trophy winner for the Mega Monkey Motorsports™ 2 seat 1600 desert racer, powered by an air-cooled VW engine and has also been on the podium in a stock bug, a trophy bug, and an ultra-4. She is one of only 17 American women to have participated in the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles, a 9 day all female off road rally in Morocco with no GPS. You can check her out online on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and either one of her blogs.