Vehicle Style: 3-door performance hatch
Engine/trans: 188kW/330Nm 2.0 turbo petrol 4cyl | 6sp manual
Fuel Economy claimed: 8.1 l/100km | tested: 9.8 l/100km
If the Volkswagen Scirocco were to have a human analogue, it’d surely be Linda Evangelista.
Ms Evangelista is 49, but it appears nobody told that to her genes. I know twenty-five year-olds that have aged worse, myself included.
And so too, the Scirocco. The current model was launched in 2008, making the sheetmetal seven years old. That’s well past retirement in automotive terms.
Yet, despite its age - like the bodacious Ms Evangelista - the Scirocco’s bod is still a head-turner.
Nevertheless, Volkswagen has given the Scirocco just a little nip and tuck to keep it looking its youthful best. The update tweaks the front-end appearance with new lights, a new bumper and a new grille.
Around the back, LED tail lamp clusters sit above a recontoured bumper. The sheetmetal, happily, stays the same.
Inside there are some tweaks in the form of instruments, steering wheel and a new triple-gauge cluster atop the centre stack, but on the whole the furniture stays the same.
Is VW’s supermodel still in the game, or has age wearied it? Read on.
- Power windows, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, dusk-sensing headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors.
- Infotainment: 7.5-inch colour touchscreen interface with sat-nav, AM/FM/CD stereo, USB audio input and Bluetooth phone and audio integration.
- Luggage space: 312L minimum, 1006 maximum.
I’ve got to come clean: I'm no fan of the Scirocco R’s interior style.
The seats are supportive but are trimmed in a dull black-on-grey colour scheme, the door-pulls form a ridiculous triangle, the switchgear is old and the design reminds me of a MkV Golf - a car two generations older than the present-day Golf.
While the exterior still looks fresh as a daisy, time has not been so kind to the Scirocco’s cabin.
The new steering wheel is nice though, and the triple-pack of auxilliary gauges (showing turbo pressure, oil temperature and a clock/lap timer) looks cool.
On the other hand, the rear headrests greatly impair vision through the already small hatch glass.
Over-the-shoulder vision isn’t great either, but that’s the price you pay for eye-catching aesthetics, a elegantly tapering roofline and a shallow glasshouse.
Standard equipment levels are healthy, with sat-nav, a reversing camera, parking sensors (essential given the poor rear visibility), a trip computer and dual-zone climate control all included for the Scirocco R’s $45,990 pricetag.
The triple-gauge cluster atop the centre stack is a new feature, and tells the driver how much boost is being generated by the turbo, the engine oil temperature and a clock/stopwatch.
The front seats are actually quite comfortable and well-bolstered, and the back seats - though cosy - are spacious enough for two adults to sit side-by-side.
ON THE ROAD
- 188kW/330Nm 2.0 litre turbo petrol inline four
- Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
- Ventilated discs, front and rear
The Scirocco R is a bit of a rocket in a straight line. Having 188kW of power virtually guarantees a great deal of speed.
Drop the clutch from a standing start, and the Scirocco R will blast to 100km/h in a very respectable 6.2 seconds.
It lacks the ferocious power delivery of its primary competitor the Megane RS265 though, and while it’s an easy car to drive fast it’s also not all that exciting.
The rawness that would otherwise come from having a powerdul turbo engine driving the front wheels has been filtered out, and to us it’s that visceral feel that makes a hot hatch a joy to punt hard.
Torque steer is minimal, the power delivery incredibly smooth. It seems odd to complain about such things, but the Scirocco R just doesn’t feel as wild as some of its competitors because of it.
But it sure can handle.
It might be an old chassis by now, but the Scirocco R has a level of front-end pointiness that’s hard to beat.
Provided the road is dry it’ll go pretty much wherever you point it, and it takes a pair of extraordinarily hammy fists to make it understeer.
The brakes are powerful too, and at 1356kg the Scirocco R is no heavyweight.
Ride comfort is another Scirocco R forte, with the three-mode adjustable dampers providing enough compliance in Comfort mode to make it suitable for daily driver duty.
ANCAP rating: The Volkswagen Scirocco has yet to be tested by ANCAP.
Safety features: Stability control (switchable), traction control (switchable), ABS, EBD, brake assist.
All passengers get three-point seatbelts, and airbag protection comprises dual front, front side and full-length curtain airbags.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The Scirocco R’s only real direct rival right now is the renault Megane RS265, which shares its three-door layout and FWD turbo configuration.
It’s faster, more powerful and more dynamically accomplished, and in Cup trim the Megane RS 265 also has a price advantage over the Scirocco R.
Later in the year we’ll see the revival of the Astra OPC, except wearing Holden badges rather than an Opel roundel. The Astra OPC, like the Megane RS265, is one of our faves when it comes to FWD performance.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The Scirocco R is still a gorgeous piece of design, and still a blisteringly quick device.
Its capabilities as a FWD performance car are without question.
But we don’t find ourselves warming to it as we once did. The driving experience now seems a little sterile, and that bland interior stands in stark contrast to the beautiful bodywork that encloses it.
Nevertheless, the Scirocco R is a good car. It’s just that if you want a truly exciting FWD three-door, Renault has it beat.
PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
- Scirocco R 6 Speed Manual - $45,990
- Scirocco R 6 Speed DSG - $48,490