2012 VOLKSWAGEN SCIROCCO REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Small three-door hatch
Price: $49,990 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 8.2 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 10.6 l/100km
Volkswagen makes sensible cars for sensible people, the entire range - even the sporting R models - features practicality in spades.
So what then of this tight-fitting, low slung, edgy Scirocco R - could this be a glimmer of madness in the Volkswagen range?
Take the high-powered Golf R engine, remove a pair of driven wheels and wrap the whole package in a three-door body with none of the staid sensibility of the donor Golf, and you have another way of proving that sex sells.
And not just from an aesthetic point of view; this Euro stormer comes with genuine on-road prowess.
Quality: Nothing to complain about with this classy interior.
Most of the dash is borrowed from the Golf, but the unique door trims and other bespoke Scirocco features come with the same high-quality fit, finish and functionality that Volkswagen has made an art-form.
Comfort: It’s low and wide with a proper sporting stance - that means you’ve got to drop your bum into the Scirocco to get settled at the wheel.
But once cosied-up in the deeply-bolstered buckets, you will notice you’re at a very nice work-bench.
Everything falls nicely to hand, the chunky sports-wheel feels right, and there’s a nice tight cockpit feel to the layout of the instruments, controls and driving position.
The seats themselves are comfy and you’re not so low as to be peering at the undersides of SUVs you pass.
And, where most sports cars only feature a back seat for looks, the Scirocco has a usable two-place rear bench.
It is still a squeeze though for anyone over moderate height - there’s not a lot of head room under that sleek coupe profile.
The biggest problem with the interior is the very poor visibility around an enormous A-pillar, further compounded by poor over-the-shoulder visibility.
Equipment: The R is the sole Scirocco on offer in Australia and comes well-featured.
Standard fare includes high-quality cloth and microfibre seat trim, a flat bottomed multi-function steering wheel with shift paddles, leather-clad wheel and gear selector, cruise control, trip computer, Bluetooth audio streaming and telephony, rain-sensing wipers, auto headlamps and an eight-speaker CD/MP3 player with USB, SD card and auxiliary inputs.
Storage: The boot is deep, but that’s the only dimension that impresses. The tailgate is tiny, the boot-lip high and cargo space measures a tight 312 litres - enough for a few soft bags on a weekend away. Rear seats however fold to free-up 1006 litres of space.
Inside the centre console is a compact bin, but the glovebox adds some useful room and an open stash-space at the base of the centre-stack is large enough for keys, wallets and other detritus.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: Lets start with the obvious - with 188kW and 330Nm waiting eagerly to be let loose - the Scirocco R pushes a lot of power through its front wheels.
But in this case, Volkswagen has managed to tame the beast so that it isn’t a torque-steering, wheel-tugging monster. Mostly.
Our week in the Scirocco wasn’t a dry one, not ideal for exploring the car’s full potential, but the Scirocco will behave like a thorough gentleman if you’re not too heavy-handed with the application of the foot (er, you get the drift).
Push a little harder though and the grin factor most definitely increases.
On dry roads, the R is a very rapid piece of work. With the DSG gearbox rattling off shifts with lightening speed and the XDL differential channelling drive directly into the surface, it can be whistled around a winding road. (And the most intoxicating feature has to be the ‘whump’ that sounds off between gearshifts.)
It is remarkably lithe and stable when cornering, especially when remembering that there are only two wheels, and front ones at that, doing the work.
It’s more of a handful in the wet. On slippery surfaces the traction control and XDL differential has a lot more on its plate and it can be a bit squirrely when powering hard between apexes.
Steering feel isn’t great, there’s a nice ‘weight’ to the wheel but feedback is a little muted.
Refinement: There’s a gruff rumble from the twin exhaust outlets, subtle yet menacing but certainly never enough to annoy. Everything else is smooth and refined to the point that perhaps masks the Scirocco’s potential.
Suspension: Volkswagen’s Adaptive Chassis Control is a standard feature on the MacPherson front strut and multi-link rear suspension. It allows the driver to select the damper stiffness across three settings, Comfort, Normal and Sport.
While it works exceptionally well - the Scirocco has enormous grip and superior balance - there’s no escaping the ride which progresses from “stiff” to “tooth-rattling” across the three settings.
Braking: Strong stopping matches the on-tap performance with 345mm front discs and 310mm rears. Pedal feel is typically German-firm but braking performance is superb.
ANCAP rating: Euro NCAP 5-Stars
Safety features: Standard safety kit includes six airbags, ESP with traction control and XDL (extended electronic diff lock, acting in place of a limited slip differential) ABS braking, hill start assist, brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution.
Front seats lack seatbelt height adjustment but do feature load-limiting pretensioners and height adjustable head restraints.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km with 12 years corrosion warranty.
Service costs: Service costs vary so consult your Volkswagen dealer before purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Renault Megane RS250 Trophee ($46,990) - With wild looks and sublime on road performance, the cheaper RS250 is perhaps the pinnacle of the hot hatch genre at the moment.
The interior falls short of the Scirocco for quality-feel and ergonomics and no auto option means you’ll have to row your own gears. (see Megane reviews)
Peugeot RCZ ($54,990) - The scene-stealing and costlier Peugeot is more style than substance, but is a very enjoyable drive nonetheless.
The auto is saddled with a large power deficit, which takes the gloss off things, and there’s no room in the back seat at all. (see RCZ reviews)
Mini Cooper JCW Coupe ($52,600) - More costly than the Scirocco, this one is the brat of the pack but packs a punch behind the wheel.
With kart-like handling, the Mini Coupe brings a thrill to something as mundane as a trip to the supermarket. The JCW also lacks an auto (it’s only available with the Cooper S Coupe and Roadster). (see Cooper reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
There’s a nice mix of menace and style to the Scirocco’s flanks plus a good balance of muscle and sophistication to the driveline. And inside - well, that’s typically Volkswagen.
Well-sorted, and with a sportscar heart, the Scirocco R isn’t the wildest offering on the market, but is fun to drive, swift and beautifully balanced.
Despite its shortcomings - that hard ride, poor visibility and small boot among them - we wouldn’t hesitate to put this one in our driveway.
- 2012 Volkswagen Scirocco R - six-speed Manual - $47,490
- 2012 Volkswagen Scirocco R - six-speed DSG - $49,990
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