Volkswagen's improved Scirocco is good looking, handles sharply, benefits from access to some great engines and is solidly built. June Neary reports
Will It Suit Me?
Life would be very dull if we only ever took the sensible option. We'd never buy impractical cars like sports coupes for a start. Without these, the automotive landscape would be a greyer place. Brightening it in recent times has been the arrival of Volkswagen's much improved Scirocco: I couldn't wait to try one.
It seems rather odd talking about practicalities with a car like this. After all, if you really want to be practical, you could buy essentially the same package in a squarer suit badged as a Volkswagen Golf GTI. That said, I was surprised at just how practical the Scirocco was. The interior is airy and light, and the option of an electrically-operated panoramic sunroof (fitted to my test car) further emphasises the feeling of spaciousness. There's a reasonably wide boot aperture which opens up 312 litres of luggage space. Fold the split rear seats down and you've got 1006 litres. The Scirocco features four, individual sculpted seats finished in a choice of either cloth or leather. The sports seats aren't just restricted to those up front - the contoured rear seats feature integrated headrests to offer plenty of support. Proportions for the this car are classically short, low and wide despite the fact that it needs to run on existing Golf mechanicals. The vehicle measures 4,256 mm long, 1,404 mm high and 1,810 mm wide.
Behind the Wheel
Does it drive just like a Golf GTI? Yes. Is that a bad thing? Definitely not. To be fair, the Scirocco does have some driver-orientated unique selling points of its own, mostly centred around its dynamic aids. All models feature advanced adaptive chassis control offering three driver-selected settings - comfort, normal and sport. On normal lumpy UK roads, you'll probably keep to the Comfort setting almost all the time. The system's influence extends to the steering: should 'sport' be selected, the helm firms up to provide more feel while 'comfort' mode makes the steering lighter and easier to operate at low speeds or around town. The Scirocco's sharp dynamics are linked to a range of powerful yet efficient petrol and diesel engines. The key model gets the 2.0-litre TSI four-cylinder turbo engine developing 220PS that found fame in the Golf GTI. This unity also comes in 280PS form in the top Scirocco R variant. More mainstream engine options include a base 1.4-litre TSI petrol unit with 125PS and a 2.0-litre TSI option offering 180PS. Two diesel engines are also offered, both 2.0-litre units, with either 150 or 184PS. On the move in the 2.0-litre TSI petrol model, there's a deep, crisp hum from the twin exhaust pipes, but it's far from intrusive. In fact, it sounds rather exciting - which is what you want in a car like this. In the DSG automatic version, you even get a Michael Schumacher-like blip on the downshifts. I love this engine.
Value For Money
Plan on a budget at the affordable end of the main £20,000-£25,000 bracket and you won't go too far wrong.The GT spec most will choose gets you climate control, 18" alloy wheels, a touchscreen control interface, a CD autochanger, front fog lights and a multifunction steering wheel. Optional extras include tempting items like a panoramic sunroof, leather trim and satellite navigation. A comprehensive range of safety features is fitted to the Scirocco as standard. These include six airbags, Electronic Stabilisation Programme (ESP) and ABS with Hydraulic Brake Assist. With prices starting at accessible levels on a par with those of a typical premium hot hatchback, the Scirocco looks rather well placed against obvious rivals. It's sharper to drive than a Mercedes C-Class Coupe and more affordable than an Audi TT. It also has the instant advantage of having one of the best engine in the sector at this price point in the 2.0 TFSI unit. The Scirocco uses the more powerful engines from the Golf and so fuel economy is similar to that car. The 2.0 TFSI 220PS model returns 47.1mpg with 139g/km emissions, while a more impressive showing of around 67mpg can be expected from the 150PS 2.0 TDI diesel. Insurance for the 2.0 TSI petrol 220PS model I drove is group 32.
Could I Live With One?
Call it charisma, personality, call it what you want but Sciroccos have always had personality. As does this one. It's good looking, it gets some of the best engines available to Volkswagen, it's priced fairly aggressively and it's engineered like few other coupes in its class. If success could be guaranteed by ruthlessly ticking these boxes, then this car has to be a winner.