Pretty soon buyers here in the States will have a few new choices when considering an affordable and efficient entry-level coupe or hatch. No, no, we aren't getting VW's Scirocco or Peugeot's RCZ anytime soon (but the Hyundai Veloster is on its way). We're talking about Honda's CR-Z hybrid that goes on sale here in the States on August 24 and Toyota's all-new 2011 Scion tC that arrives in showrooms in early October.
Both cars are priced similar and are designed to appeal to a younger (or young at heart) audience looking for an inexpensive ride with a somewhat sporty feel.
So, what can buyers expect for putting their hard-earned cash in someone else's corporate pocket?
Two trim levels will be available on the CR-Z, base and EX. Pricing for the base model with a 6-speed manny-tranny will start at $19,950 (the CVT with paddle shifters is a $650 option and forces you to take a 5 lb-ft torque cut), with standard features including the 122-horsepower 1.5-liter IMA gas engine linked to an electric motor, 6 speakers, a radio/CD/USB system with audio jack, automatic climate control, power windows, and 16-inch wheels.
Upgrade to the EX and you get a higher-output stereo system with a subwoofer, Bluetooth, leather-wrapped steering wheel, fog lights, HID headlamps, aluminum interior bits, and an available Nav-system. Honda says fuel efficiency for the sporty hybrid will be a combine 34 MPG for the manual, and 37 MPG for the CVT.
Scion's 2011 second-gen tC drops in October with a new 2.5 liter 4-banger making 180 hp and 173 lb-ft (performance numbers have not yet been released), as well as a starting price of $18,995. The base model will come with a 6-speed manual transmission (selecting an automatic will cost you $1,000).
Standard features on what Popular Mechanics calls a "compelling alternative to the Ford Mustang" 8 speakers, 18-inch rolling stock with 16-inch brakes, panoramic moonroof, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a rear seat. Fuel economy will be a combined 26 MPG for either transmission. No word yet on extra packages, but it's Scion, so customization is the name of the game.
Both cars feature as cruise control, traction control, power door locks/windows, and an audio input jack / USB port as standard.
So, what would you rather put in YOUR garage? A fuel-efficient Honda hybrid posing as a sports car or Toyota's more conventional but brawnier (hp-wise) Scion tC?
By Phil Alex
Which One Would You Be More Likely to Buy?
____________________________________________________________________Photo Gallery: Honda CR-Z
Photo Gallery: 2011 Scion tC