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Scion tC stands out

The car 2011 Scion tC Toyota has high hopes for their youth-oriented Scion offshoot. Checking the numbers, the tC coupe is the best-selling Gen-Y Toyota.

The car 2011 Scion tC

Toyota has high hopes for their youth-oriented Scion offshoot. Checking the numbers, the tC coupe is the best-selling Gen-Y Toyota. So, is the tC just a product of a marketing ploy, or does a Celica by another name still drive as sweet?

The numbers

Price: $23,960.20, including freight (six-speed auto)

Power: 180 horsepower at 6,000 r.p.m.; 173 foot-pounds of torque at 4,100 r.p.m.

Fuel economy (city/hwy): 9.2/6.4 litres/100 kilometres

The tech

Standard: Eight-speaker stereo with USB audio input, Bluetooth, 18-inch alloy wheels, panoramic glass roof and moonroof, projector-style headlights.

Options: Six-speed automatic transmission, Toyota Alpine audio upgrade

The drive

Walking up to the curb, you might be forgiven for mistaking my Alpine White tC for an Audi product. That pugnacious, square-shouldered look is pure S5 coupe writ small. When parked street-side, I watched more than a few passersby do a rubberneck to check out the blocky cute-brute with the unfamiliar badge: this car will get you noticed.

Step over the sill though, and the Scion will have you thinking of the rubberized interior of a Honda Element. No doubt the heavy-duty layout is going to absorb a lot of kicking if you jump in all muddy from soccer practice, but it's more utilitarian than you might expect from the stylish exterior. One high-point though is the incredibly thick, D-shaped steering wheel. The only car with a tiller that's similar? The BMW M3.

But let's not get carried away. While this is a sporty coupe, it's still front-wheel drive and four-cylinder powered. However, check out the numbers here: 180 h.p. moving just 3,092 pounds makes for a pretty sprightly power to weight ratio.

That means the tC is quick, especially since the torque delivery is ample with the large-displacement four-cylinder. Also, this engine is right out of the Camry, so you know it's not some hopped-up performance mill that's going to require constant cosseting.

With 18-inch wheels and low-profile tires standard, the tC's ride is youth-oriented as well: it's stiff, but not overly loud. Enthusiasts will probably opt for the manual and can add a few TRD racing bits like a short-shifter, spoiler or strut brace. No doubt there will be an even stiffer suspension package available in the future.

But again, along with all the go-fast garnish, there's a utilitarian underside to the tC. That swoopy, all-glass back-end is actually a useful liftback. The rear seats are reasonably sized for a small two-door, and with them folded flat, there's easily enough room for a bike or two to nestle in the back.

The verdict

While not an out-and-out sportscar like a Honda Si coupe, nor as festooned with bells and whistles as a highline Fiesta or Mazda3, the tC has some stiff competition. Still, what you get for a titch more than a Versa with a sunroof is a dollop of style and performance that's backed up with a surprising amount of utility.

What's more, the numbers don't lie, and they show the tC gaining ground and even pipping stalwarts like the Mazda3 and Honda Civic in the youth segment (ages 18-27). As an ambassador for the emerging Scion brand, then, the tC is clearly doing its job.