29 December 2008
Volkswagen Scirocco

Volkswagen Scirocco

Hot rod

Car review | He's back! For many years the Scirocco was Volkswagen's sporty icon. Proud owners kept their aging yet beloved Scirocco and didn't want any other car. Fans couldn't wait for a new, sporty Volkswagen. And now the hot rod is back! Does the new Scirocco drive as well as it looks?
 

Thumbs up in a traffic jam. Passengers in other cars almost twist their necks to be able to fully admire the Scirocco. Golf-drivers hurdle around the Scirocco as if it were the holy grail. In other words: Volkswagen succeeded. The Scirocco is the Volkswagen for people who enjoy life and this car draws all the attention and admiration that go with such a vehicle.

Just like the predecessor the Scirocco is a car only Volkswagen can build. A Japanese sportscar is technically advanced, but lacks the personality or looks of a European car. An Italian or English sports car has tons of charisma, but leaves much to be desired when it comes to reliability and build quality. The Scirocco offers a unique mix of German know-how and a sporty character.

Volkswagen Scirocco

The Scirocco is a real eye catcher, that's evident from the attention it receives from bystanders. But at the same time this car is not so shouty that it gains negative reactions. It is like the difference between a muscular athlete and a bodybuilder: with the first form and function are well balanced, while the second is only about the looks.

Occupational hazards

Still, on some points looks were more important than functionality. The rear end looks very strong and muscular, but the car is more than 20 cm wider at the wheel arches than at the rear windows. This makes reverse parking very tricky. Like most coupes the high shoulder line and small windows obscure visibility. Quickly changing lanes isn't as easy as with other cars.

Still, such "occupational hazards" suit a car like this. The dashboard has been copied verbatim from other Volkswagen models and the number of "gadgets" is disappointing compared to the price of the Scirocco. Only the flat bottomed steering wheel really differs from other Volkswagen models.

Volkswagen Scirocco

But thanks to the low driving position and small side windows this Scirocco still manages to give the exclusive and safe feeling that a car like this should. Thanks to the exciting presentation it does feel like a true privilege to be in the Scirocco, even before driving it.

The space in the front is fine, even for tall drivers. The seats are long, thereby supporting the lower legs rather well. But for short people this support is too much, making it hard for them to bend their legs and reach the pedals. Like in most coupes there's little room on the back seat. Adults can sit here comfortably for a short drive, but this really is the domain of children.

The luggage space is big for a coupe. The rear bench can easily be folded up, after which the Scirocco offers plenty of storage space.

Volkswagen Scirocco

Comfort

From a technical point of view the Scirocco is just a Golf GTI in a very aerodynamic jacket. Because of this the Scirocco can show two faces: when driven slowly the car is as comfortable and wholesome as a Golf. When driven like a true sports car the experience is even more intense than with a Golf GTI.

Volkswagen Scirocco

This duality is mainly owed to a very special power unit. The test car is fitted with a 1.4 litre "TSI" engine. With a calm driving style this engine is remarkably economic, while providing excess power when necessary. Despite the relatively small displacement the Scirocco 1.4 has a deep, rough sound.

When going with the flow of traffic, the Scirocco is comfortable and quiet. Also, the car is not pushy or aggressive, so it doesn't require a lot of self control to slowly drive this otherwise flamboyant VW. This extrovert Volkswagen is just as suitable for driving long distances as the every day models.

Performance

When the pedal goes to the metal, the Scirocco certainly does not disappoint. Around 5,000 rpm the full power of 160 hp / 240 Nm is available. Then the Scirocco accelerates eagerly while the needle of the rev counter keeps climbing. At the same time this car isn't so fast that it poses a threat to one's driving licence.

The six speed manual gearbox shifts quickly and accurately. When the brakes are released a hissing sound from the turbo can be heard, which encourages to do it all again in the next gear.

Volkswagen Scirocco

Handling

Despite the driving style handling is always exemplary. The suspension of the Scirocco isn't especially stiff, therefore this car can also be used as a comfortable every day vehicle. Even speed bumps are no problem for this sporty model.

But ... the Scirocco is of course bought for its sheer driving pleasure. When cornering at higher speeds, the Scirocco really comes alive. The steering isn't especially direct or razor sharp, but handling is sublime.

During slaloms or fast cornering the Scirocco is always controlable. Even on bad roads or rough surfaces the car is easy to handle. The electronic stability system therefore rarely has to assist. It allows for just a little wheel spin, making the experience complete.

From a technical point of view this may be just a Golf GTI, but the experience is much more intense. This is a true hot rod!

Volkswagen Scirocco

Conclusion

Does the new Volkswagen Scirocco drive as well as it looks? Yes and no. Compared to other coupes the Scirocco is less pure, less hard core. But this does make the car more suitable for every day use. When driven calmly the Scirocco is a comfortable and economic car. The space in the front is fine, the luggage space is even above average, the build quality is immaculate. The trim level is poor, compared to the stiff price.

When driven like a sports car, the Scirocco handles like a sports car. The relatively small 1.4-litre TSI engine performs very well and turns the Scirocco into an exciting car. The handling is lively and alert; just as it should be with a hot rod like this.

plus
  • Sane yet delighful
  • Sublime road holding
  • Fast and still reasonably economic
min
  • Firm price
  • Steering should be more direct