Some history first… Scirocco is not a new name in the Volkswagen model range, even though most of the young, affluent South Africans that constitute the target market will be unfamiliar with it. Back in the ‘70s and early ‘80s the crisp, Giugiaro-styled Volkswagen Scirocco was quite a popular coupe in Europe, and was also offered for sale in South Africa, where it never quite took off. And now it’s back. Aimed at those consumers who like the Golf’s solidity and performance, but who crave a little bit more exclusivity and don’t mind sacrificing some practicality in the process, the Volkswagen Scirocco is a stylish hatch/coupe that adds some spice to the VW line-up.
Exciting Styling for Volkswagen SciroccoThe Volkswagen Scirocco may be based on the underpinnings of the Golf, but you’d never guess it by looking at it. It is lower slung than its mainstream hatchback sibling, boasts wider track widths and is also longer. Consequently, the Scirocco looks squat and muscular, and unlike anything else in its class. The sporty looks of the Volkswagen Scirocco are bulked up even further by the fitment of stylish 18-inch alloy wheels as standard.
Riding on a 2 587 mm wheelbase, the Scirocco is not as cramped as the coupe moniker may lead you to expect. Certainly, access to the rear will require some bending and twisting, but once seated both head- and legroom are sufficient, although it can become a trifle claustrophobic back there. The boot remains usable, too (312 L). Up front, you’ll recognise the facia of the Eos folding-hardtop coupe. Build quality is as top-notch as anything else from the VW stable these days, but it must be said that, given the Scirocco’s flamboyant exterior design, perhaps Volkswagen could have done more to give this model its own character inside.
This particular 2,0 TSI Sportline derivative is a heavily sports-oriented model, and gets a flat-bottomed steering wheel, triangular door handles that are really nice to hold and lots of shiny trim pieces to break the sombreness of the otherwise predominantly black interior. The seats are superb, leather-trimmed and “ribbed” sports items that wouldn’t look out of place in a far more expensive sportscar. Some will be disappointed that the driver’s seat can’t adjust to an even lower position, but it’s certainly not uncomfortable and the steering wheel does, indeed, offer a generous range of rake/reach adjustment. From inside, then, and in particular from behind the steering wheel, the Volkswagen Scirocco comes across in much the same way as a hot hatch.
Given the Scirocco’s upmarket positioning, the trim level is suitably generous, with climate control, front/rear fog lamps, heated seats, electric seat adjustment, radio/CD with remote audio controls, cruise control and six airbags all being included in the deal.
Familiar PowertrainUnder that sculpted bonnet is the VW group’s familiar 2,0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers 147 kW and 280 Nm of torque, the latter figure on tap from below 2 000 rpm. Performance is sizzling and certainly places the Volkswagen Scirocco firmly in hot hatch territory. The 0-100 km/h dash is completed in a brisk 7,3 seconds and the top speed is over 230 km/h. What impresses more than the bare figures is the refinement and eagerness of the engine. It feels more willing to rev than previous examples, and the linearity of the power delivery is mighty impressive for a relatively small-capacity turbocharged engine. There is always overtaking punch if required. Flicking through the six-speed dual-clutch (DSG) transmission is also delight. The transmission includes a launch control function, by the way, a useful feature during those pesky robot-to-robot grands prix.
Thrilling DynamicsLook, seeing as the Volkswagen Scirocco uses the same underpinnings as the current Golf, which is highly rated for its handling/ride balance and overall agility, it was hardly ever going to be a dud in the dynamics department. But Volkswagen has made doubly sure that it lives up to the expectations created by the exciting exterior design. Perhaps due to its wider stance, the Volkswagen Scirocco feels even more firmly planted, without sacrificing the Golf’s trademark adjustability. There really is very little body roll, and the steering is precise, if slightly devoid in feel (just like a Golf). Volkswagen also offers an optional adjustable chassis system that sharpens things up even further, but for the majority of owners the basic set-up will be more than good enough.
Driven hard, the Volkswagen Scirocco exhibits all the traits that make excellent hot hatches (and the Golf GTI) so popular. The engine note is raspy, the transmission fast and slick, and the ride/handling balance so well-judged that you could live with the Scirocco on a daily basis, yet never tire of its entertainment abilities when you have the opportunity to exploit them.
Volkswagen Scirocco - VerdictYes, the Volkswagen Scirocco could be described as a Golf in drag, but it’s more than that. The underpinnings may be familiar, but the visual character is so strong that it manages to exhibit a persona all of its own. For those buyers looking for a fast, stylish, reasonably practical daily runner, but who places a premium on design and individualism, the Volkswagen Scirocco will be hard to resist. We suspect that, this time round, Scirocco will be more eagerly accepted than in the past. It’s a winner.
- Sporty looks
- Superb cabin
- Excellent performance
- Dynamic balance
- Sparse standard equipment
Engine: 2,0-litre, four-cylinder, turbopetrol
Power: 147 kW @ 5 100 rpm
Torque: 280 Nm @ 1 700 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch
Wheels: 18-inch alloy
Top speed: 233 km/h
0-100 km/h: 7,1 seconds
Fuel economy: 7,6 litres/100 km
- Opel Astra OPC: The OPC has built itself something of a cult following, aided by spectacular styling and lots of power. Overall, it has its charms, but the power is arguably too much for the chassis, because dynamically it can become ragged when pushed.
- BMW 130i: At the Scirocco’s kind of price level, this fast BWM looms tantalisingly near. OK, so the looks are borderline offensive and the cabin not representative of BMW’s finest work, but the engine and rear-wheel drive dynamics go a long way to making up for those failings.
- Volvo C30 T5 Geartronic: A far more competitive product than most people give it credit for, even though it can’t quite match the dynamic balance of the Scirocco, nor the slickness and speed of its transmission. More powerful, though, and cheaper.