DETROIT – The quirky, funky style that has come to define Scion in its mere seven months on the market is conspicuously absent from the third vehicleMotor Corp.’s new youth brand has launched.
The tC sport coupe, unveiled here at the North American International Auto Show, more resembles a small version of the3-Series than Scion’s popular, boxy xB or quirky xA hatchback.
Scion Vice President Jim Farley admits he’s nervous about critical reception of the conservative styling. But he’s confident that the young, hip target customers are more attracted to streamlined, luxury- and European-influenced coupes than wild and edgy design.
The appeal of Scion’s popular xB, he says, lies in the design’s simplicity.
|Scion unveils TC sport coupe.|
The tC, built at’s Tsumi plant, is based on the European-market Toyota Avensis platform – a platform new to the U.S. market. Farley says the tC aimed for Euro-tuning to its disc brakes with automatic braking system, as well as its double-wishbone suspension.
Different from its more underpowered siblings, the tC is powered by the 2.4L 4-cyl engine also found in the Toyota Camry midsize sedan. The engine makes 160 hp and 163 lb.-ft. (221 Nm) of torque, and comes with the option of a dealer-installed supercharger, which brings horsepower to 200. The engine is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission or optional 4-speed automatic.
Despite the tC’s simple lines, the coupe incorporates some innovative aspects including a hatchback, rear seats that recline 45 degrees and an all-glass, retractable roof. Hatchbacks, considered anathema by many Baby Boomers, have regained popularity with Scion’s targeted Generation Y set.
The tC will follow Scion’s formula of offering just one trim level but a host of available accessories (the supercharger is considered an accessory). Standard equipment includes air conditioning, a Pioneer audio system, cruise control and driver’s side knee airbags.
Designed to compete against the Jetta, Civic coupe and Focus hatchback, the tC is expected to account for 40% of total Scion volume. It also will be the most expensive of the three Scions. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but Farley says it will cost “well, well under $20,000.” As with the other Scion models, profits will rely on the sales of tC accessories.
The tC will hit the market in June, when the currently California-only xA and xB stage a national rollout. Scion will priority-shift units to the Midwest, where the coupe-selling season is shorter than on the coasts and in the South.
The national release of the three vehicles completes the first phase of the Scion launch, officials say. Together, the three vehicles will account for 100,000 units of volume.
The fledging brand, so far, is pleased with its initial California launch – although surprised by a mix that was two-thirds represented by the xB, while the inverse was expected.
Sales of 10,898 units in Scion’s seven months of sales in California exceeded targets of 10,000 units. Some 75% of buyers are new to Toyota, with half under 35 years of age. The consumer group is 57% male.
The xA and xB roll out to the East Coast, southeast and gulf states Feb. 3. When the trio of Scions launch nationally in June, some 730 Toyota dealers, or 60% of the dealer body, will carry the brand, Toyota says.