Road Ahead

Why Wait for tC’s Supercharger?

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[caption id="attachment_56" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="New Scion tC not as sporty as it looks."]New Scion tC not as sporty as it looks.[/caption]

Toyota’s Scion youth brand is launching its all-new tC coupe this month, and its audience is primarily male, with a median age of 26 (compared with 57 for the Toyota brand).

That attractive demographic holds the keys to Tuner-ville, whose occupants spend more of their disposable income than perhaps they should on wheels, ground effects, racing seats and custom exhaust systems.

But these young males who dream of starring in the next installment of the “Fast and Furious” movie series crave more than a sporty-looking car. There’s a need for speed, and a bolt-on supercharger is a ready antidote.

Scion’s product planners understand all this and offered a centrifugal-style supercharger in the previous-generation tC from 2005 to 2008, boosting output to 205 hp and 186 lb.-ft. (252 Nm) of torque from the standard 2.4L 4-cyl., rated at 161 hp and 162 lb.-ft. (219 Nm).

The new tC gets a larger naturally aspirated 2.5L 4-cyl. shared with the Toyota Camry, rated at 180 hp and 173 lb.-ft. (235 Nm) of torque, good for a sprint to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 8.3 seconds.

Despite the bigger engine, a recent test drive in suburban Detroit demonstrates how badly the new sporty-looking coupe needs a supercharger. Mid-range acceleration is anemic, making merging on certain freeways frightful. There’s a disconnect between styling and performance, as the sheetmetal writes a check the engine can’t cash.

But don’t count on a supercharger package for the new tC, even though 45 other accessories are available. Scion spokesman Craig Taguchi says the soonest the brand will make a decision on offering a supercharger will be sometime next year.

Why wait? If Scion truly wants male buyers, a supercharger offering will move the needle.

Of course, economics come into play. The supercharger in the previous tC cost $3,285, and young males probably are more concerned about job security than having a fast car.

If the business case allows Scion to break even on limited supercharger volumes, then that option needs to be available to consumers. And even if Scion takes a moderate loss on a supercharger offering, it’s worth the risk.

When the tC launched six years ago, 61% of buyers were male. But then women took a shine to the coupe, pushing the mix to about 50/50. Scion wants the new model to draw a 60% male audience.

What better way than to offer more power with a supercharger?

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Drew Winter

Drew Winter is Editor-in-Chief of WardsAuto World magazine and a Senior Editor at WardsAuto.com. He was won numerous awards for his work in both print and digital media and has been...

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