Steve Sharpe drives Volkswagon’s classy coupe
It’s been a little over 40 years since the original Scirocco sports coupe made its debut at the Geneva Motor show in 1974.
It was a car which, says the company, triggered a new era of design and paved the way for the success of new vehicles which included the original Golf.
Since then the Scirocco has been a good seller for the German company, retaining its solid customer base with a series of facelifts since that first incarnation.
This most recent revised version of the third-generation Scirocco made its debut in 2014.
The revised Scirocco comes with a new range of efficient engines that offer fuel efficiency improvements of up to 19 per cent.
The petrol range is made up of a 1.4-litre petrol with 125 PS and a new 2.0-litre 180 PS unit which replaces the previous 1.4-litre 160 PS unit, which is more economical than the unit it replaces despite an increase in capacity and power.
The previous 2.0-litre TSI 210 PS was replaced with a 220 PS unit that is also 19 per cent more fuel efficient. The high-powered Scirocco R uses a 2.0-litre unit producing 280 PS: 15 PS more than before.
Two diesel engines are both 2.0-litre units, with either 150 PS or 184 PS (up from 140 and 177), and up to 67.3 mpg. The entry-level 1.4-litre TSI 125 PS car comes only with a six-speed manual gearbox; all other engines come with a standard six-speed manual gearbox, with the option of a six-speed DSG gearbox.
Externally, the Scirocco’s shape has been modernised with new headlights and tail lights.
A revised front bumper features aerodynamic ‘blades’ in the outer section, like those on the latest-generation Golf GTI, with integrated indicator lights, daytime running lights and fog lights.
On models with optional bi-xenon headlights, the daytime running lights are LEDs within the main headlights.
All Sciroccos now have LED rear lights, while the bumper has been reshaped to appear lower and more sporty.
As on a Golf, the Volkswagen logo badge now functions as the tailgate release handle.
Inside the cabin, the dashboard has been updated, with new-look dials and an auxiliary instrument cluster above the centre console, consisting of a chronometer and charge pressure and oil temperature gauges, which VW say is a tribute to the 1974 model.
We Brits have especially taken to the two-door coupe, with the UK market one of the biggest for VW.
And it’s easy to see why.
It’s a very distinctive looking coupe – wide, flat and sporty, with a mean-looking front end and sports car good looks. The little tweaks make it look even better.
VW are known for the quality of their cabins and the Scirocco is no exception.
The ambience is dark and moody, with things really coming to life in the dark, when the cabin is bathed in dramatic red light.
The gauges and dials, like the majority of VWs and Skodas, are the familiar black and white, while the layout is simple with everything to hand.
The three dials sitting atop the central control panel look good, and the finish is top quality, with soft plastics and classy fabrics.
The Scirocco is a proper four-seat coupe, rather than a two-seater with a couple of cushions shoehorned in the back fit only for munchkins.
The front seats are really comfortable with plenty of legroom, and although headroom is a little hampered by the sloping roof it’s never too much of an issue for those of a normal height, and can be accommodated by a bit of seat-height adjustment.
It’s not bad in the rear seats at all, and there’s a fair bit of room in the boot, too, although its shape is deep and narrow, with a high lip, meaning that luggage has to be hauled in. The rear seats split 50/50 for extra capacity too.
It means that running a Scirocco is not just for singletons or dinkis, but although the large front doors allow better access to the rear seats, like most coupes it’s a still a bit of a clamber to get in the rear seats.
Out on the road the Scirocco performs as a sharp-looking coupe should.
I drove the GT 2-litre TSi petrol engine, which was a treat.
Fast and agile, the VW offers an extremely satisfying drive.
Its low, wide stance on the road means that cornering offers no dramas, with firm suspension eliminating all but the merest body lean and high levels of grip.
The 2-litre petrol engine pulls powerfully from low revs. It packs a satisfying punch right through the gears but it really comes into its own at mid range and high revs when the rising revs are accompanied by a surge of acceleration.
The steering is sharp with great feedback from the tarmac, and the Scirocco can be heaved around B road corners with little effort.
The six-speed manual gearbox in my test car was well geared and slipped in and out with little or no fuss.
The engine is quiet to the point of silent at low revs, and driving on freshly surfaced surfaces is quiet is peaceful as you could imagine.
It’s when the roads roughen up a little that things get noisier, and even on only slightly rough surfaces there’s a fair bit of road rumble coming into the cab. A little wind noise creeps in occasionally, too.
In this VW you get a sporty coupe that’s comfortable in town, on motorway runs or on twisty B roads, although reversing requires a bit of extra concentration because of limited visibility out of the rear. The A pillars are quite chunky too.
The Scirocco’s a popular car here in the UK and driving this most recent version it’s not difficult to see why.
Combining sharp looks, great handling and now improved economy, the two-door VW is a cracking car.
It’s priced in the upper reaches of the coupe price range, but as with most VWs you get a good amount of equipment even on entry-level models.
The range has four trim levels – Scirocco, GT, R-line and R – but even the entry-level car comes with generous standard kit, with automatic lights and wipers, Bluetooth, multi-function steering wheel, DAB radio, 17-inch alloy wheels, air-con and a touchscreen display.
Shelling out for GT adds climate control, bigger alloys, front and rear parking sensors and a sat-nav unit while top-spec models get sportier styling and leather upholstery.
However, cruise control, keyless entry and power mirrors are optional on single version, which require an extra bit of cash.
For anyone looking for a sporty coupe that has some of the practicality of a hatchback the Scirocco makes a tempting proposition.
It’s stylish, well-equipped and fun to drive, and when you take into account VW’s reputation for quality and reliability, its a great-looking all rounder that ticks many boxes indeed.
VW Scirocco GT
Engine: 2-litre petrol
Transmission: Six-speed manual
0-60mph: 7.4 seconds
Top speed: 141mph
Economy: 46.3mpg avg
Price: £24,460 OTR