Volkswagen Scirocco review
The VW Scirocco coupe offers an impressive blend of style and substance
The Volkswagen Scirocco nameplate can trace its roots back to the mid-seventies. At the time, VW built a coupe based on the Mk1 Golf platform, with bodywork penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro.
The Mk2 was dropped in 1992 in favour of the Corrado, but the name returned
in 2008 with a new coupe based on the running gear of the Mk5 Golf. The Scirocco has been updated in 2014, which underlined just how right VW got this hatchback-based sports coupe from the start back in 2008. Mixing proven Golf mechanicals and cabin trim with the talents of the GTI hot hatch chassis and a rakish breadvan profile, the Scirocco remains a top choice among the family coupe set.
Beyond the fizzy petrol turbo engines, there’s also a fleet- and wallet-friendly Bluemotion diesel version, and a fiery 276bhp R version to give the Scirocco some true hot hatch pedigree. Yet all models impress with their usability – unlike most rivals, four usable seats and a decent boot are standard fare in all Sciroccos.
Yet not all of the Scirocco is ageing gracefully. Its cabin now looks dated compared to the latest Audi TT and VW Golf, as the Scirocco is based on the dashboard architecture of the old Eos coupe-cabrio, and despite the new steering wheel and infotainment system, it’s neither as sexy as the exterior nor as high-quality as the Golf Mk7. It’s also rather meanly specified as standard, so adding goodies to the non-special edition models can quickly become extortionate.
Our choice: Scirocco GT 2.0 TSI
The VW Scirocco was penned by the company’s current chief of design Walter de Silva, and for the facelift, the car has been left largely unchanged. That means you get a coupé which is more compact hatchback than sports car, although the wide grille, bulging rear wheelarches and windows that narrow towards the rear give it a distinctive look.
The updates centre around the lights and bumpers, with LED tail-lamps now standard across the range, while the headlights are new and the front bumper takes styling cues from the latest Golf GTI. Unless you’re a diehard VW fan, you’d be hard pressed to notice the differences, but they do enhance the car’s looks. And while it lacks the concept car bravado of the Peugeot RCZ and the classy proportions of the new BMW 2 Series, there’s no doubt it still turns heads.
The GT trim gets 18-inch wheels, front foglights and darkened privacy glass for the rear windows. Sportier R-line trim ups the kit-count with leather sports seats, 19-inch alloys, and a subtle bodykit. However, with a starting price north of £27,000, it's very expensive - the GT is much better value at £22,305 for a simpler spec. Sadly, whichever model you choose, the cabin fails to live up to the exterior’s stylish standards, because it’s here where the Scirocco really begins to show its age.
Build quality is solid, but the dashboard – inspired by the Eos coupe-cabrio’s – is old-fashioned. There’s lots of old-generation switchgear, too. Still, you get lots of kit, with leather seats and two-zone climate control, while brushed aluminium inserts around the instruments set the higher-spec models apart from entry-level Sciroccos.
The facelift ushered in the Mk7 Golf's lovely steering wheel with new spoke controls, together with an updated infotainment touchscreen, but the Scirocco still feels like a fundamentally elderly car with some trinkets, which will hurt it in what is essentially a fashion-conscious market.
The VW is poised and vice free on a twisting road, but its rivals feel more alive and agile.
The standard adaptive dampers ensure the ride isn’t overly firm if you stick to the comfort setting, but on the optional 19-inch wheels (standard on the R-line), the Scirocco can thump a bit too much over poor surfaces. The fact that the latest-generation Golf handles and rides with more polish also makes the coupe feel a bit dated.
Top-spec R badged models offer the greatest thrills, with a 276bhp turbocharged engine. However if you want something a bit easier to live with, pick the GT model. It offers the 207bhp 2.0-litre TSI from the old Golf GTI and delivers strong torque.Alternatively, you can have the GT with the strong 2.0 TDI diesel, featuring either 182bhp or 148bhp.
On rough roads, the car feels comfortable, thanks largely the firm’s clever Adaptive Chassis Control (ACC). It provides incredible poise and grip without harming ride comfort. Selecting the ‘Sport’ setting stiffens the dampers, and sharpens throttle and steering responses. The extra weight added to the steering might become tiresome however, so there's a handy 'Individual' mode where you can mix and match your favourite settings, and save the configuration.
The Scirocco has only been mildly facelifted, so all of the major mechanical components have been carried over and poor reliability shouldn’t be an issue. Of more concern is the reputation of VW’s dealers. The company’s network finished 31st out of 32 in the latest Driver Power survey, with owners feeling that they were poorly treated and left in the dark about potential problems with their cars.
The Scirocco earned a five-star Euro NCAP rating back in 2009, although the test is far tougher today, so the car would be likely to earn a lower score if it was retested. Standard safety kit includes six airbags, ABS with brake assist and tyre pressure monitors.
Unlike most coupes, the Scirocco isn't just a glorified two-seater. It lets you carry three adult passengers – although the low roofline and shallow windows make things a bit claustrophobic for those in the two sculpted rear seats. Tinted rear glass and dark interior materials don’t help either. You can't even spec tan leather in some versions to brighten the ambience.
At least the rear seats fold to increase the deep boot’s capacity to a healthy maximum of 1,006 litres. That’s impressive, although with the seats in place the 312-litre area is 78 litres down on a BMW 2 Series. Plus, while the Scirocco’s hatch tailgate is handy, the high load lip makes it tricky to lift in big items.
Visibility isn’t great through the VW’s fixed rear headrests and letter box-shaped rear screen, so it’s a good job rear parking sensors are standard. Also included in the long list of equipment are an air-conditioned glovebox, Bluetooth hands-free and a multifunction steering wheel.
With a range of economical engines and the promise of strong residual values the Scirocco appeals to the head as well as the heart. The 2.0 TSI petrol manages a claimed 47.1mpg and emits 139g/km, while the top of the range 2.0 TDI promises 74.3mpg and 109g/km. The firm’s clever entry-level 1.4 TSI petrol is worth considering as the cheapest buy and still manages 52.3mpg with 125g/km. The hot-rod R is of course the most expensive 'Roc to run, offering just 35.3mpg and 187g/km.
Kit levels are largely impressive, with all cars getting touchscreen sat-nav and Bluetooth as well as alloy wheels and DAB radio. The R now benefits from 19s as standard, as does the R-line trim. However, even top-spec models force you to pay extra for niceties like electric folding door mirrors and a colour screen between the clearly marked instrument dials.