I've had a 2005, a 2007 and now a 2011, Magnetic Gray Metallic. The 2nd gen is RADICALLY different from the 1st! Some things std on 1st gen are gone replaced by others. The std 18" wheels are STUNNING! The new seats and fabric are AWESOME! 6 spd transmission (mine's auto) with std on/off trac control, 'conventional' dash design but TASTEFULLY done with a thicker flat bottom steering wheel. The optional rear spoiler is an awesome MUST have, it finishes the more aggressive looking car PERFECTLY! Mileage so far has been better than the ratings and I DON'T drive like your Grandma.
Can't stand when people review a car that aren't driving it everyday, so I thought I would add a few comments. Don't buy this car if you are looking for a sports car. It's not. Buy this car if you are looking for a much more attractive looking 2-door Corolla with a tiny bit more juice and a lot of extras. For only a couple thousand dollars more than the Corolla, the decision was easy for me. The only reason I gave it a 4 performance wise is that it seems like Toyota markets the car as 'sporty'. Sporty looking/feeling yes, but not a sports car. For commuters, the performance would easily be a 5. Nothing wrong with it.
I purchased this 2011 w/6 manual in magnetic gray with rear spoiler (spoiler made the purchase point for me). After looking at a 2010 & 2011, the interior blew me away for quality, and style for the new 11 vs the 10. The new engine and drive train and hands down better than the 10. Driving the 10' seemed to be like a driving a turd. And the while the 11' is most certainly full of power, it still isn't a SPORTS car. The improved width made comfort hands down top notch, and while I'm 6'1" and a huge dude, i feel comfortable in the back seat, something rare for a two door. The 6 speed manual is smooth, and the gears fall into place naturally, without fumbling.
I've had my 2011 tC for about two weeks and there are some significant changes from the two previous tCs I've owned. The 2011 is a bit larger with more interior room and the six speed automatic transmission makes it more fun to drive in the sport mode. However, it does not seem as responsive as the previous tCs, perhaps because of its larger size. One big improvement is the gas mileage. I've been averaging between 30 to 31 miles per gallon around town. On my other tCs I never exceeded 30 MPG even on the highway.
I bought this car used after a leasee returned it to the dealer. My initial impressions of the car were favorable. The seats are supportive and the 6spd is smooth. This achieves exactly what I think Toyota set out to achieve with this car being a "my first sports car" type car. After putting some long highway miles on it there are a number of things that started to creep up on me that wouldn't have been apparent to me in the test drive. The first is the quality of the interior build. The bass from the radio rattles the panels around the window control buttons. I'm not sure I'b a big fan of the vinyl sunroof cover either. The exhaust note may or may not be your thing during a long drive.
Reasonable amount of torque means the car stumbles off the line with traction control on. With it off, the tC leaves with authority, but can't maintain it. Loud-ish engine/exhaust, quick-smooth upshifts, and it went slightly quicker when allowed to auto-upshift in manual mode. Sporty, but not a sports car.
Reasonably flat, always straight and with little noise or tire grind. Medium-hard pedal.
With ESC off on the skid pad, the tC goes into terminal understeer state where there's nothing for a driver to do about it. With ESC on, a single brake application tucks nose in for slightly better result. Steering offers little to no info. Feels like a spring. With the tC's propensity for dramatic lift-throttle oversteer still intact, it's no wonder ESC is now standard (and can only be defeated at standstill with a lengthy button hold. Good thing, because what starts out feeling sporty and controlled quickly turns into a tricky situation where the rear snaps loose. Leave ESC on and it dabs brakes for safety.