Fun, fast and affordable: 2015 Scion tC vs. 2015 Honda Civic Si vs. 2015 Kia Forte Koup SX Turbo

Written by James Hamel for

IMG_0083While few have ever called the 2015 Scion tC sport coupe the second coming of the Celica, there is no doubt that a similar formula is at play here. This roomy enough for four two door coupe comes loaded with features like an 8-speaker 300 watt Pioneer audio system, air conditioning, panoramic sunroof, power windows, locks and mirrors, alloy wheels, Bluetooth, USB-iPod integration all for comfortably under $20,000. And thanks to a recent headlamp rejuvenation and tail lamp tuck, the tC still is stylish as ever with reliability, fuel economy and build quality all ranking high with the exceptions of the plastics surrounding the A/C vents which felt cheap.

The Opposition
While you can always jack up the price of your tC with the lengthy dealer installed options, next up in the price range here is the 2015 Honda Civic Si sedan which stickered for just over $23,000 with sticky summer tires and blinding orange paint. Features includes automatic climate control, a 300-watt audio system with amplifier, power moonroof, power windows, locks and mirrors, Bluetooth, USB-i/Port, a 2.4 liter V-TEC 204 horsepower/178 lb. feet of torque 4-cylinder mated to the finest six-speed manual anywhere near this price.

Lastly and most surprisingly was the as tested price of our 2015 Kia Forte Koup SX which came to $25,625 albeit that was fully loaded with in-dash navigation, dual zone climate control, a power moon roof, heated seats, heated steering wheel, leather upholstery, power driver’s seat, HID (High Intensity Discharge) headlamps, a 1.6 liter 201 horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder and a slick shifting six-speed manual gearbox. In fact all of our testers came equipped with clutch pedals and we couldn’t have been happier!

DSC_0152Exterior Styling

The first generation tC was visually a bit of a wobbly mess, like wax left out in the hot summer sun for too long. For the second generation, Scion took the tC to far more angular and masculine heights especially with the squared off rear windows and hatchback line. The rear styling nicely hides the silhouette of the hatchback which allows this coupe a rather enormous cargo hold whether the rear seats are up or down.

Now the 2015 Honda Civic Si which we think is visually like a sexy and fun boy racer makes it good looking enough to win this category if only it wasn’t painted orange like our tester. Our favorites are red, the dark grey, silver and black Si exterior paint hues which tastefully coexist with the loud red cloth upholstery seat inserts on the inside. Finally, the 2015 Kia Forte SX Turbo may not have the purposeful angularity of the last generation but it has its own unique style. Kind of a like a nicely tailored suit, the 2015 Kia Forte Koup SX Turbo would fit in at any occasion without drawing too much attention to itself. (1st Place: 2015 Scion tC, Tie: 2015 Honda Civic SI (in orange), 3rd Place: 2015 Kia Forte Koup SX)

Interior Design and Build QualityDSC_0261

The first thing you notice when you hop into the 2015 Scion tC is how roomy it is for four people thanks to plenty of shoulder room and surprising amounts of rear legroom. The standard panoramic sunroof also really gives it a very airy and open feel. The glass extends over the rear passengers so they never feel like they are sitting in a dark pit. The one negative is the rather cheap feeling vinyl sliding cover you can pull over the glass portions. It feels like it’s not made to last as long as the rest of the car and will most likely get stuck or torn within the first year of ownership.

Interior storage is very impressive inside the tC as there are large map pockets in the doors (but who owns a map anymore?) and the glove box is big enough for more than just your owner’s manual (and on the same thought, who stores gloves in their glove box?). The rear seat folds 60/40 offering up 34.5 cubic feet of cargo room. Also, there is enough head and legroom for two rear seat passengers of average height.

IMG_0107The 2015 Scion tC continues the “squared off” design motif from the exterior with a chunky flat bottom steering wheel and a lot of angular lines across the dashboard. Scion was very shrewd about making sure that all of the essential touch points (steering wheel, shift knob, climate controls, turn signals, power window switches, door handles) in the 2015 Scion tC had that essential “feel good factor.” VW specializes in this interior treatment but Scion unfortunately skimped on a few key parts of the dash where the plastics look like they belong in a Yaris. Admittedly, the tC is super affordable and you can’t have everything.

The inside of the 2015 Honda Civic Si feels just as roomy as any Civic sedan which is to mean very, has very high quality interior trim and outward visibility and the black and red cloth sport seats add a touch of pizazz to what is now quite a familiar interior. However, the Civic is the most ergonomically perfect car in regard to its interior compared to the cars on test here. The six speed manual, the clutch pedal and steering wheel are all within perfect and easy reach for seemingly anyone of any height. The seating position is so perfect that it truly makes you feel one with the car and makes the driving experience that more special.

To read the rest of this piece and see who won check out my Honda and Acura Examiner page.