VOLKSWAGEN SCIROCCO R REVIEW
Rain, sunshine, heavy fog, tight slippery mountain roads and 188kW slamming through the front wheels - a problem? No problem...
This, Volkswagen's Scirocco R pocket-missile, is one rorty but beautifully balanced car.
It is riotously quick around a mountain road, emits a dark and lusty throttle-body sound that rises to an urgent wail above 6000rpm, races through the gearchanges in the DSG with a lusty F1-type 'whump' on each shift and sits low, wide and pumped on 19-inch rims and heavily blistered guards.
It looks delicious; for sporting style and for 'delivering the goods', perhaps only Renault's Megane Sport comes close.
Our first blast in the new Scirocco took us from Albury to Falls Creek in the Victorian Alps, to Omeo, Dinner Plain, Mt Hotham and down again to Milawa.
Tight winding roads, slippery, wet, off-camber sweepers and flowing high-country straights - the perfect hunting ground for a driver's car like the Scirocco R.
Its sublime handling balance is no surprise. It's been on sale in the UK and Europe for a year or more and its reputation precedes it.
What is a surprise is the price - $47,490 for the six-speed manual, $49,990 for the DSG - revealed last year and confirmed by Volkswagen Australia boss Anke Koeckler yesterday.
For a car of this performance and quality feel, that's bargain buying.
The suede-trimmed deep sports seats, superb soft-touch surfaces, the snug fit and feel to the multi-function sports wheel and interior trims are absolutely first class.
For quality accommodation, Volkswagen seems to manage to raise the bar with each new model release.
There is a fair bit of tyre noise over rough surfaces - in keeping with the Scirocco's sporting heart - but, even in the selectable 'Sport' setting, it's free of jarring and 'crashing' from down below.
The taut suspension, whether in 'Comfort', 'Normal' and 'Sport' mode, is unshakeable, gives the Scirocco superb cornering balance, and razor precision in picking the line from apex to apex.
In combination with the quite brilliant XDL differential (managing the traction and torque delivery through the front wheels), the Scirocco will carry amazing speed into a corner and can be fired out like an arrow.
And torque-steer? Forget about it: there's a little to remind you that you're in a powerful front driver (what else would you expect), but even under full power it's never wrenching - and so well-damped that you will, in fact, forget it's there at all.
If we sound a little like we're wetting ourselves about this car, it's because the new Scirocco is simply so darn quick, so finely engineered, and so appealing.
Although the A-pillar is way too thick (you have to peer around it when cornering right), and although the reach and tilt wheel can't be set low enough for my preferred driving position, and maybe the lines at the back and the smallish boot won't appeal to everyone... but you'd have the new Scirocco in your garage in a heartbeat.
Sure, one day in the saddle is no definitive test, but on the overwhelming impression of this first blast, it's impossible not to be convinced that the new Scirocco from Volkswagen is one very special car.
We're taking it to the racetrack today. Watch for the next post.
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