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In-depth reviews

Volkswagen Scirocco (2008-2017) review

The VW Scirocco still delivers a strong combination of style, space and ability, but is starting to feel its age

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

  • Distinctive looks, attractive price, strong engine range
  • Dated interior, practicality concerns, not as composed to drive as rivals

The current Volkswagen Scirocco was launched in 2008. Based on the Golf, it was designed to offer the same quality and composed drive as the GTI, but with a higher level of practicality than most coupes. Along with its dramatic styling, this winning combination continues on sale today.

Yet not all of the Scirocco is ageing gracefully. Its cabin now looks very dated compared to the latest Audi TT and VW Golf, as the Scirocco is based on the dashboard architecture of the old Eos coupé-cabriolet. Despite a recent facelift, the Scirocco is neither as sexy nor as high-quality as the Golf Mk7.

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Beyond the fizzy petrol turbo engines, there are some wallet-friendly BlueMotion Technology diesels and a fiery 276bhp R performance model. All versions  impress with their usability – unlike most rivals, four usable seats and a decent boot are standard fare in all Sciroccos.

But today, it simply can’t offer the same level of driving finesse as the best coupes or three-door hatchbacks in the class, despite making the Audi TT look more than a little expensive. 

The Scirocco name dates back to 1974 and the launch of the Giorgetto Giugiaro-designed original. Like today, it was based on the same platform as the Golf, but the Scirocco arrived before its sibling, with Volkswagen keen to iron out any potential issues before launch the high-volume hatchback.

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The Mk1 lived on until 1981, when it was replaced by the less elegant, in-house designed Mk2, which was both more aerodynamic and more practical. It also turned out to be more successful, living on until 1992. By this time, Volkswagen had launched the more powerful and more upmarket Corrado, with the pair sharing the same showrooms for a few years.

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Volkswagen Scirocco GTS review

The Scirocco name then lie dormant until 2008 when the all-new Mk5 Golf-based coupe was unveiled at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show. Its styling was influenced by the stunning Iroc concept of 2006, with production confirmed at the AutoEuropa plant in Portugal.

Direct rivals are few and far between, but the most obvious competitors are the Audi TT or three-door Golf GTI. The BMW 2 Series is another coupe vying for attention, along with other sportier alternatives such as the Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT86, which offer rear-drive handling characteristics and a sportier feel, albeit without the Scirocco’s practical packaging.

The sportier coupes tend to lack some of the Scirocco’s range diversity too. There are seven different models, and six engine choices, from the entry level 1.4 petrol to the wild 276bhp Scirocco R with some impressive diesel options in-between.

The entry-level Scirocco is the only model to slip below the £20,000 mark and the price tag is reflective of the relatively basic specification. The Scirocco GT is a far more attractive proposition, adding 18-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, Alcantara sports seats, climate control, sat-nav and tinted glass.

The R-Line offers the styling of the full-fat Scirocco R, including 19-inch alloy wheels, sporty side skirts, grille and bumpers, plus leather sports seats. Black Editions of the GT and R-Line models add contrasting black wheels, roof, spoiler and door mirrors for around £500 extra.

The Scirocco GTS comes with a 218bhp petrol engine and sporty features like red brake calipers, red interior stitching details and GTS stripe decals on the bonnet, roof and tailgate, while the range-topping Scirocco R has lowered sports suspension, dynamic chassis control and a unique exterior styling pack.

Under the bonnet, the engine range consists of four petrol options from 123bhp up to 276bhp, and a pair of diesels putting out 148 or 182bhp. All models have four-cylinder turbocharged powertrains, and all are front-wheel-drive with a choice of manual or twin-clutch automated gearboxes.

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