By Lou Ann Hammond, Mon, 28 Jun 2004 08:00:00 PDT
Toyota has been on a roll ever since the '60s. Unlike Nissan with Infiniti, Toyota's Lexus was a hit right from the start. And then along came Scion. Many pooh-pooh'd the idea of bringing out a whole new line, but Toyota doesn't do anything without doing their homework first. Mark another homerun for Toyota.
According to Jim Farley, Vice President of Scion, "Scion is Toyota's research and development center. We are trying things in the Scion division and Lexus and Toyota are watching to see what succeeds and what can be carried over to their models."
With three distinct makes, Toyota, Lexus and Scion, all of them can pick and choose which component they think is an asset to their newest model. For example, the Tc shares the platform and rear suspension with the European Avensis. Some of Toyota's parts were used as well. As they used to say on Dragnet, the names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Speaking of changing names, according to Farley, "Our research group decided not to name the coupe "Xc" because of Volvo's XC90 or "Xtc" because of the similarity of Xtc and Ecstasy."
This car was Farley's first entree into the product world. Farley helped introduce the Xa and Xb, but he actually had a hand in the design and development of the Tc. He worked with Ital Design's staff and Scion's Chief Engineer, Dr. Shigeyuki Hori, on the drivability of the car.
Ital Design and the Toyota group have worked together for some time. Ital Design designed the first Lexus, so it is not a coincidence that the Scion Tc has a look and feel of a Lexus. What is amazing is the price. At under $17,000 Scion has convinced carlist.com that they know what they're doing.
Bruce Springsteen sings about it, Scion makes it. I'm talking about the intimate seating in the front passenger seat. Women like to curl up in a seat. It's almost universal, a venus-mars thing. We like to put one knee under the other, our elbow on the center console, our right foot on the door stoop and our body slightly turned to talk to the driver. If you've ever had a woman rub your right shoulder while you are driving, look over and see if her body is in just this position.
Scion has spent time on the intimate seating. The front dash curves well above your legs, giving the feel of space. The seat can be moved back well behind the B-pillar, giving more space.
Lexus-like luxury is found in such items as the use of dampers on interior moving parts. The temperature control dial is made of aluminum, and the front-passenger airbag is seamlessly integrated into the dash.
Every Manufacturer claims they have lots of room in the back, but usually they don't. This time Scion got the double-wishbone rear suspension right. The Tc is spacious; the back seat actually does have room for people that have two appendages below their hips, commonly known as legs.
Both the automatic and manual were a delight to drive. The engine was as perfectly mated to the transmission as I have ever felt in a car that is priced this low. A 61/39 front/rear weight distribution coupled with a four-wheel fully independent suspension allowed us the balance, control and responsiveness we wanted going around curves.
Most of the interior was more than a notch above the plastic found in many cars of its price range. The dash needs to be changed from the rice paper look to something that will clean up easier. In fact, it's not even that the dash was dirty, but that you could see the dust particles just sitting there collecting in every nook and cranny.
The Scion Tc will grab sales from all the competitors of this price range. Something Toyota may not have expected, I think it will grab sales from Toyota.
It's that good.