Volkswagen Scirocco

It doesn’t look like a coupé, but Golf-based model is a really strong choice.

Lined up against its low-slung rivals here, the Volkswagen Scirocco isn’t a coupé in the purest sense. But it still has its own distinct identity.

With a razor-thin grille and slanted headlamps, the hatchback has a purposeful face, while pronounced wheelarches, a tapering roofline and wide rear end also help to set it apart.

The Scirocco shares its underpinnings with the Golf GTI, but is lower and wider than its hatchback cousin. Some of its suspension components are also made of aluminium, which further distinguishes it from the famed performance model.

Inside, the large body helps to boost practicality – this is the only car in our line-up to offer a pair of proper rear seats. They split and fold to increase boot space, and once they’re flat, the VW provides the most generous luggage bay, at 1,006 litres.

Up front, the dashboard is lifted straight from the Golf – which means the quality of its design and execution is excellent. Even so, the firm has jazzed it up with the addition of some unique details, including distinctive triangular door pulls. The trouble is, the gearlever also sees service in entry-level versions of the Golf, so overall, the interior doesn’t feel as special as the TT’s.

As with its rivals, the Scirocco’s driving position gives plenty of adjustment, although you don’t sit as low down. Thick A-pillars and narrow windows combine to make visibility tricky, too. And while the rear headrests are shaped to boost visibility, the view through the narrow back window makes reverse parking sensors an essential option.

On the road, the Scirocco’s dynamics can be tailored for almost any situation, thanks to the standard Adaptive Chassis Control (ACC). Keen drivers should leave it in Sport mode, which delivers sharpened steering responses.

The dampers constantly adjust for the conditions, and the ride is never uncomfortable or harsh. This, combined with the wider track and unique aluminium suspension parts, makes the car engaging to drive.

If only you could disengage the ESP system fully. The safety kit isn’t particularly intrusive, but the VW lacks the razor-sharp sports car feel of the Peugeot. Still, there’s plenty of grip, and the inside wheel only struggles for traction when you use full throttle through tight bends.

The Scirocco arguably provides more outright grip than the TT, but it never feels as tactile or communicative as either rival.

There are no complaints about the engine. The 2.0-litre is shared with the Audi, yet produces 10bhp more in the VW. It gives the car great traction – the Scirocco was the fastest model from 0-60mph, with a time of 6.5 seconds – while in-gear acceleration is similar to rivals. But while it’s rarely found wanting for power, the VW doesn’t deliver a rousing exhaust note.

It still has a trick up its sleeve, though – the 2.0 GT is the cheapest choice here. Plus, it’s the only car with four proper seats. Add sharp handling and arresting looks, and the Scirocco is very tempting.

In detail - Volkswagen Scirocco GT 2.0 TSI * Price: £23,540  * Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 207bhp  * 0-60mph: 6.5 secs * Claimed economy: 38.2mpg  * Claimed CO2: 172g/km

Details

WHY: It has a familiar name from the Seventies, but the keenly priced Scirocco offers plenty of 21st Century appeal.

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