Project Scion TC Racer Part One
This is no Lifestyle Car Dammit!
Building the first Scion Road Race Car
Text and Photos By Mike Kojima
I have many faults as an automotive journalist; one of them is that I am prejudiced against many things automotive. One of the things I personally can't stand is the so called “automotive lifestyle”. I am a gearhead and a tuner geek. I like to build fast cars, I am a Motorsports Engineer/Consultant, I like to race competitively, I don't like the show car aesthetic, and I don't like “lifestyle events”. Not that there is anything wrong with the above, I am just not into it.
So when Scion was launched as the brand of Generation Y, after looking at the cars specs, I sighed a yawn seeing that they were probably designed for cool kids and those who emulate them that were more into clothes, hair product and music than cars or at least the performance part of it. I immediately dismissed the brand as something I was not interested in and never paid attention to it again. The fact that Scion marketing showed heaps of Kustom cars and that scores of Scions blatted by with fart can exhausts sorta reminded me of the parts of the “Civic Nation” that I disliked. To the product planners at Scion, I apologize, all of these personal opinions of mine are my bad and misfounded. With your launch of the Scion tC I forgive you and I hope you can forgive me.
My opinion was changed when someone reluctantly persuaded me to drive a tC at Streets of Willow raceway. I didn't think it was worth my time. After a few laps, to my surprise I came away impressed. Although the big 2.4 liter engine did not sing a sweet song like a Honda K20A does, it made a lot of torque and could motivate the car around the track without embarrassing itself. The handling was decent and you could coax the car to rotate with a little left foot braking. Surprisingly the car reminded me of the Sentra SE-R Spec-V, a car I like, with a little more refinement. It didn't handle as sharply and didn't quite have as much power but looked better and imparted a greater feeling of solidness, quality and less of a schizophrenic personality than the thrashy Sentra. Dynamically I could almost shut my eyes and both cars would feel very close.
Then I got to drive a tC equipped with a Turbonetics turbo system, sticky tires, good brake pads and fluid with TRD suspension. Now this car was actually fun to drive on the track and the TRD suspension was refined enough to be a daily driver. My only major complaint was that the car badly needed a limited slip differential as it was hampered by inside wheel spin out of every corner (I actually think the stock tC could benefit from this as well). This was a nice tuner car and my attitude towards Scion as being a fashionable Emo (the look, not actually being Emo) OC high schooler's or cute girls ride was changed.