2013 Scion tC Release Series 8.0
2013 Scion tC Release Series 8.0. Click image to enlarge
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Scion Canada

Review and photos by Simon Hill

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2013 Scion tC Release Series 8.0

When I first drove the Scion tC, which was introduced to Canada for the 2011 model year, I appreciated its combination of street-savvy coupe looks and almost hatchback-like practicality, but was disappointed that it didn’t offer more real performance. For the 2013 model year Scion has fixed that, not by changing the tC but rather by introducing a new car for those who want a fully caffeinated rear-wheel-drive sports car: the FR-S.

This leaves the tC free to stake out its real territory as a sporty front-wheel-drive coupe that blends an easy-going yet reasonably rewarding driving experience with a surprisingly accommodating interior. Think of it as the decaffeinated alternative that offers all the style of a coupe but won’t give you the daily driving jitters.

Did I say decaf? Perhaps in the case of my test car “half-decaf” is more appropriate, because in its Release Series 8.0 trim the Scion tC still has what it takes to wake you up. The limited-production Release Series 8.0 package adds $3,535 of optional equipment to the tC, including “Absolutely Red” paintwork, special gloss-black 18-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, a centre exhaust, full skirt package, colour-accented seat fabric, paddle-shifters for automatic-equipped cars, and RS badging inside and out. My test car was also fitted with the automatic transmission ($1,050) and a premium Pioneer audio upgrade ($500).

In all other respects the Release Series 8.0 is the same as the regular tC, which means it already comes with a long list of equipment (RS 8.0 editions aside, the tC is what is known as a “mono-spec” car, with appearance and performance accessories available for installation at the dealer level). Standard gear on the tC includes a panoramic sunroof, air conditioning, eight-speaker audio system with Bluetooth compatibility, 18-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, reclining split-folding back seats, power locks and windows, keyless entry, projector-style headlights and more.

2013 Scion tC Release Series 8.02013 Scion tC Release Series 8.02013 Scion tC Release Series 8.02013 Scion tC Release Series 8.0
2013 Scion tC Release Series 8.0. Click image to enlarge

What you don’t get in the Scion tC are any soft-touch plastics. The cloth-upholstered seats are comfortable, and the doors have padded cloth inserts that wrap down to provide cushioned armrests, but beyond that everything else inside is built of hard-touch materials. On the bright side it does all fit together well, and the textures are a step up over the ordinary, although I found that the raw-silk texture on the dash and door panels scuffs up easily because dirt gets captured in the linear ridges (so don’t let your friends prop their feet up on the dash!).

Whether you’ll appreciate the look of the interior will depend on whether you take a conservative approach or prefer something a little more stylized. Perhaps contrary to expectations, the tC leans towards the conservative side, with a simple analog gauge cluster in front of the driver, and a short driver-oriented centre stack dominated by a big dual-DIN-sized audio system (the idea is to make installing custom audio easy). Above the audio system is a retro-looking green LED clock, while below it is a very simple three-dial climate control panel. The passenger’s side is all glove box and there are no sweeping arcs of brushed metal, no accent trim inserts and indeed almost no adornment at all (there are discreet silver accents around the vents and the gearshift, and that’s about it).

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