New Scirocco vs rivals

Main 01
3 Sep, 2008 1:32pm

One of VW’s most famous names is back... but can it live up to the legend – and topple rivals from BMW, Alfa Romeo and Audi?

Another historic motoring badge is on the comeback trail, and it’s time to see if the Scirocco has the mettle to match the hype!

Hoping to equal the success of the MINI and Fiat 500, Volkswagen has brought its famous coupé back to the showroom. Recreating a name last seen 16 years ago, it revives memories of the glory days of affordable compact sports cars.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the VW Scirocco

The Ford Capri may have started the class, but it’s VW that is aiming to rekindle the family hatch-based coupé market. Despite its mainstream underpinnings, a stylish new body should mean the Scirocco will appeal.

Powered by VW’s strong 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine, the newcomer costs only £90 more than the similarly powered Golf GTI. But does it offer something unique, or is it simply the GTI in a smart suit? To find out, we pitched the Scirocco against three talented yet pricier coupés to see if it can play with the big boys.

First up is our current favourite, the Audi TT. It’s powered by the same engine as the Scirocco, and is great to drive, has a fine cabin and is a strong contender in the style stakes.

But if you want a beautiful coupé, look no further than the Alfa Romeo Brera. We try out the recently launched S version, which has suspension developed especially for UK roads by British firm Prodrive.

However, if you think a real coupé should be rear-wheel drive and as far removed from a hatchback as possible, BMW’s two-door 1-Series could be for you. So how will the Scirocco fare against three such talented contenders? We took in 600 miles of the most challenging roads in Britain to find out.

Verdict

At the start of this test, we asked if the new Scirocco was good enough to compete with the more expensive coupés on the market. The answer is a resounding yes! It looks smart, is great to drive and offers excellent performance – all for less money than its rivals.But is that enough for it to win?

While beautiful, the Alfa lacks the VW’s performance and space. Prodrive has made it sharper dynamically, but it still can’t match its rivals. The BMW 125i, meanwhile, is spacious and has a wonderful engine, but its suspension is too uncompromising and it’s pricey.

Choosing between the Scirocco and the TT is tougher. The VW is better value and offers sharper handling. But the Scirocco’s cabin and driving experience are similar to a hot hatch’s. And while it comes with a serious price premium, we think the TT is still the most desirable coupé on sale.

With unique styling, a bespoke cabin and a wonderfully engaging driving experience, it wins this test by a narrow margin. But that shouldn’t detract from just how good the new Scirocco is – it’s the undisputed king of the soon-to-be-expanding entry-level coupé class.

Issue 1346
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