DETROIT -- Toyota is hoping its redesigned 2011 Scion tC entry-level coupe can capitalize on a relative dearth of fresh competition in the United States and breathe life into the struggling youth-focused brand.
"We're moving into a sport subcompact segment where you really haven't had a new entry in a couple years," Scion Vice President Jack Hollis said during a media briefing last week in suburban Detroit. He cited the Kia Forte Koup, which debuted this year, as the redesigned tC's closest competitor.
Scion expects to sell 35,000 to 45,000 of the more powerful coupes in 2011, Hollis said. Scion sold 17,998 tCs in the United States in 2009, down 56 percent from the year before, after peaking at 79,125 in 2006.
Much is riding on the rollout of the tC, which will arrive in showrooms Oct. 1. The tC has accounted for about 41 percent of Scion's overall sales since its launch six years ago. U.S. sales have continued falling this year and are down 36 percent through August, to 8,848. Hollis said the slide is typical for a sporty subcompact car late in its product life cycle.
The second-generation tC coupe, unveiled at the New York auto show in April, gets a 2.5-liter engine that will add 19 hp from the previous version. Zero-to-60 mph times for the six-speed manual transmission (7.6 seconds) and six-speed automatic (8.3) will be about a second faster.
Scion also widened the track and lowered the floor for better handling and added brake assist, vehicle stability control and other safety features. The tC's starting prices of $18,995 for the manual and $19,995 for the automatic, including shipping, are nearly $1,200 higher than those of the outgoing model.