What is it?
The Volkswagen Scriocco, a three-door coupe spun from the same recipe as the Golf hatchback, but with style and excitement placed higher up the agenda. And in this 2-litre TSI form – top of the range, if you exclude the high performance Scirocco R – it is most Golf-like, with a 2-litre turbocharged engine pumping out 207bhp, front-wheel drive and the option of six-speed manual or DSG paddleshift gearboxes.
Prices start at £26,510 for a manual, GT trim car while the GTS special edition (pictured above, resplendent in stripes) starts at £28,540.
The 207bhp 2-litre engine isn’t a latest generation unit, the new mk7 Golf GTI getting a 217bhp turbo four, but it is still similar in character, and its massive mid-range shove means it feels far faster than its outputs suggest. It’s a properly rapid thing. The six-speed manual gearbox is slick and precise, while DSG possesses its own charms, though keen drivers will still probably want to stick with the more traditional, three-pedal car.
Performance is officially rated at a 149mph top speed, with 0-62mph taking 6.9sec, though both of these figures look a tad pessimistic after a brisk drive. Conversely, its 38.2mpg claimed fuel economy looks a bit optimistic in typical, mixed driving.
While you’ll soon pour money onto your bill with a committed perusal of the options list, ACC adaptive dampers are standard and are really quite effective (especially when compared to rival cars’ equivalent systems), with noticeable changes in character between its Sport, Normal and Comfort modes.
While much of the interior is familiar from other small VW products (impeccably put together, less satisfying to actually look at), the seats are unique (and very good, too), and chunky triangular pulls have been grafted onto the door armrests. The best thing about the interior, however, is the packaging: four adults fit comfortably, the boot’s a good size and the two individual rear seats fold flat.
What’s it like to drive?
Small, front-wheel-drive VWs tend to share the same dynamic characteristics – safe, clean handling, precise steering, progressive brakes – which when combined with the wicked turn of pace their punchy turbo engines serve up, create a car that is supremely quick point-to-point. Grip levels are high and it’ll be safe understeer you eventually nudge into. A lift of the throttle will then tighten up your line again, keeping drama to a minimum.
There is obvious fun to be had from covering ground so quickly, especially as all the controls are satisfyingly weighted. But they’re also a little lacking in feel (the steering, particularly) and the whole experience is one of good, clean fun rather than hardcore hot hatch thrills. The ride is firm-edged – not helped by the large alloy wheels, which start at 18 inches – but selecting Comfort mode with the ACC loses little body control and helps smooth off most bumps.
Being a VW, it’s all very comfortable too, wind noise kept to a minimum and the bulk of road noise coming from its wide tyres.
How does it compare?
Within the Scirocco range, the GTS model costs an additional £2030 over the GT but brings with it different alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, a host of GTS logos, a multifunction steering wheel and those bold body stripes. Moving up further, the Scirocco R gets a 261bhp 2-litre turbo engine and a much bolder bodykit, and costs £31,735.
Rivals are wide and far-reaching, thanks to the Scirocco’s successful crossover of the hot hatchback and coupe genres. The Ford Focus ST (247bhp, £21,995), Vauxhall Astra VXR (276bhp, £26,995) and Renault Megane 265 Cup (261bhp, £25,245) are all more powerful and exciting, though not as premium to look at or sit in. Coupe rivals include the Hyundai Veloster Turbo (184bhp, £22,120, quirky 2+1 door layout), Peugeot RCZ GT (197bhp, £26,635, very little rear seat space) and the ubiquitous Audi TT 2.0 TFSI Sport (208bhp, £27,560, option of Quattro four-wheel-drive).
Anything else I need to know?
The VW Scirocco has been on sale five years, yet hasn’t received a facelift or major update in this time, a testament to its ongoing appeal. In fact, it launched while the mk5 Golf was on sale and we’re now a year into the mk7’s life. When a new car does arrive, though, its character will subtly change thanks to the VW group’s new front-drive, transverse-engine architecture. Called MQB, it currently underpins the Golf, Audi A3, SEAT Leon and Skoda Octavia, and will also cater for the spin-offs of all of these models, too.
If you like the Scirocco’s shape but crave decent fuel economy and low running costs, there are a host of diesel options too, the most powerful possessing 175bhp, the cleanest emitting 118g/km of CO2 and achieving a claimed 62.8mpg. And you can make them mimic faster Scirocco’s thanks to the R-line option, which adds a Scirocco R-aping bodykit and 19in Lugano alloy wheels.
VW Scirocco video review below