The 2012 Scion tC is an affordably priced high-impact car comprised of elements that are both simple and unique. Dynamic driving characteristics are wrapped in a package of aggressive styling in a three-door coupe liftback format with a premium look and feel.

The Scion tC liftback sport coupe is designed and positioned price wise to attract youthful buyers who demand a high level of standard equipment and quality along with an affordable price tag. It delivers on all fronts for that consumer, but it's also ideal for mature folks as well. The 2012 Scion tC starts at $18,575.

Up front is a sleek grille and projector headlamps that are positioned above a large horizontal lower air intake, complemented by pronounced fender flares that tend to exaggerate the car's lower and wider stance. The front melds with the muscular, abbreviated rear section and fenders, with the taillamps flowing neatly to the trunk.

The tC's sporty flair carries over into the interior with a look and feel that is not only sporty, but functional as well. The flat-bottomed steering wheel is meaty and substantial, and may be both tilted and is telescopic.

Gauges are illuminated and feature large dual combination meters for the speedometer and tachometer, providing a three-dimensional effect along with needle indicators for high visibility. Trip meters include outside temperature, average MPG and an ECO-drive indicator on models equipped with an automatic transmission.

The seats are now thicker with firmer side bolsters, with a six-way adjustable driver's seat that is height adjustable and features a seat memory function for both the seat and backrest. Rear seats are configured with a 60/40 split and recline up to 10 degrees.

Motive force for the 2012 Scion tC comes from a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Horsepower is rated at 180 and torque was increased last year by 11 lb.-ft. to 173. Power is geared to the front wheels through either a six-speed manual gearbox, or a six-speed automatic transmission with sequential shifting.

The standard equipment list is most impressive for a sport coupe in the price range of the tC, and there is a lengthy list of accessories available for both visual from dealers and performance enhancements from TRD (Toyota Racing Development).

My test 2012 Scion tC came with the six-speed automatic transmission, wore a Super White metallic exterior finish, and came with a black and charcoal interior. It included the Five Axis Aero Kit designed and manufactured by Troy Sumitomo of Huntington Beach, Calif. The kit included a front lip, rear skirt and side rockers priced at $1,890. Other extras included the TRD 19-inch seven-spoke alloy wheels, TRD performance exhaust, rear lip spoiler rear bumper appliqu�, Scion security, carpeted floor mats and cargo mat, and Scion navigation system. The total sticker came to $28,500.

The four-cylinder delivers a satisfactory amount of oomph and the handling characteristics deliver an elevated fun quotient. The ride quality is comfortable without being benign, but it's not stiff either.

I encountered trouble with the audio system. While the sound reproduction was outstanding, the tuning controls were not intuitive and sometimes even a little frustrating -- something that no doubt could be mastered with more familiarization time but initially it's a little weird.

Standard safety features include a front row knee airbags, front airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, and side curtain airbags, for a total of eight. Other standard safety equipment includes: ABS, traction control, Vehicle Stability Control and brake override system.

In the final analysis, the 2012 Scion tC's addition of TRD performance goodies and the Five Axis supplied aero kit is sure to be a hit with for its racy look.

SPECIFICATIONS

2012 SCION TC

VEHICLE TYPE__________________5-passenger FWD compact coupe liftback

BASE PRICE____________________ $19,575 (as tested: $28,500)

ENGINE TYPE__________________ 16-valve 4-cylinder w/SMPFI

DISPLACEMENT________________ 2.5-liter

HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 180 at 6000 rpm

TORQUE (lb.-ft.)________________ 173 at 4100 rpm

TRANSMISSION_________________ 6-speed automatic

OVERALL LENGTH_______________174.0 in.

TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb____37.4 ft.

CURB WEIGHT__________________ 3,102 lbs.

FUEL CAPACITY_________________ 14.5 gal.

EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway