‘ROC THE HOUSE
Many car enthusiasts of a certain age will go all dewy eyed at the mention of the Scirocco. It’s back now, but has Volkswagen done the badge justice?
The Scirocco’s sharp dynamics are linked to a range of powerful yet efficient petrol and diesel engines….
Volkswagen could well be onto a winner with the latest Scirocco. It’s good looking, benefits from access to some great engines and is solidly built. A whole generation of thirty and forty-something nostalgists will also love to own the car they were too young for first time round.
When the wraps came off the Volkswagen IROC concept at the Paris Show in 2006, few were in any doubt that this was the face of the all-new Scirocco. With its massive trapezoidal grille, aggressively sculpted flanks and low bonnet line, here was the car that would get a whole new generation of youth salivating about the day they could afford the insurance premiums on a Scirocco. After all, that’s how it happened the first time round.
Back in 1974, when the first Giugiaro-penned Scirocco hit the showroom floors, this car was quite something. Despite being ostensibly a Golf with a prettier coupe body, it established an identity of its own. There was no Volkswagen family face back then. Golfs, Passats and Sciroccos all looked markedly different at the front end and the Scirocco was the prettiest of the lot. It stayed in production until 1981, when it was replaced by the cleaner-edged Mark II. This, in turn, remained in production until 1993, spawning a whole raft of increasingly blousy special editions. In total, 77,460 examples of the original Scirocco models were sold in the UK.
When it eventually died, it was replaced by the Corrado, a vastly superior driver’s car that had nevertheless priced itself out of the market where the Scirocco had once held sway. Now the Scirocco is back, albeit with a look and feel very different to that 2006 show car.
Key to the advances made by the Scirocco are new dynamic aids. All models feature advanced adaptive chassis control offering three driver-selected settings – comfort, normal and sport. The system’s influence extends to the steering system: should ‘sport’ be selected, the steering firms up to provide more feel while ‘comfort’ mode makes the steering lighter and easier to operate at low speeds or around town.
The Scirocco’s sharp dynamics are linked to a range of powerful yet efficient petrol and diesel engines. Most opt for the 2.0-litre TSI four-cylinder engine developing 200 PS and driving through the front wheels via a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed DSG gearboxes. There’s a choice of two trim levels - standard and ‘GT’. You can also talk to your dealer about a 1.4-litre TSI petrol version with 122 or 160PS or a 2.0-litre TDI common rail diesel model with either 140 or 170PS and a combined economy of around 52 mpg. At the top of the range, there’s a 265PS R model.
It pays to temper initial disappointment about the styling but whatever way you slice or dice it, the ‘productionised’ Scirocco is a far less extreme looking vehicle than the IROC, pedestrian safety legislation raising the bonnet line, cost of repair considerations doing away with the sharky grille and headlamp sets. It’s still a very good looking car, but it suffers in comparison with what went before. The man responsible for the Scirocco, Klaus Bischoff, has created a car with a wide, flat front end and muscular rear hindquarters. It’s clear that the success of the Scirocco’s shape is going to be very sensitive to wheel and paint choices.
Inside the car, there’s a lot to grab the interest. A contoured, flat-bottomed sports steering wheel frames dials that glow white at night. The interior is airy and light, and the option of an electrically-operated panoramic sunroof further emphasises the feeling of spaciousness. There’s a reasonably wide boot aperture which opens up 292 litres of luggage space. Fold the split rear seats down and you’ve got 755 litres. The Scirocco features four, individual sculpted seats finished in a choice of either cloth or leather. The sports seats aren’t just restricted to those up front – the contoured rear seats feature integrated headrests to offer plenty of support. Proportions for the new Scirocco are classically short, low and wide although it has needed to run on existing Golf mechanicals. The vehicle measures 4,256 mm long, 1,404 mm high and 1,810 mm wide.
A comprehensive range of safety features is fitted to the Scirocco as standard. These include six airbags, Electronic Stabilisation Programme (ESP) and ABS with Hydraulic Brake Assist. With prices starting at around £18,000 the Scirocco taps into a market that’s been rather neglected in recent years but which is now showing signs of a resurgence. The Audi TT has gradually migrated further upscale, leaving cars like the Alfa GT, the Mercedes CLC and the Volvo C30 to duke it out. The Scirocco will have the instant advantage of having the best engine in the sector at this price point in the 2.0T-FSI unit.
If we’re brutally honest with ourselves, the old Scirocco did nothing the Golf couldn’t do. Plus it was more cramped, more expensive and cost more to insure. By any semblance of logic it was a poorer car. Despite this, I could live without ever driving a Golf MK1 again, but would jump at the chance of a ride in a MK 1 Scirocco. Call it charisma, personality, I don’t know, but that car had it. It’s tough to see the latest iteration of the Scirocco theme being quite so charming, but it’s not hard to see it being an excellent car and one that will have its key opponents quaking in their boots.
It’s good looking, it gets some of the best engines available to Volkswagen, it’s priced fairly aggressively and it’s engineered like few other coupes in its class. If success could be guaranteed by ruthlessly ticking these boxes, Volkswagen must think it has a winner on its hands.