Volkswagen Scirocco R 2014 review

Facelifted VW Scirocco 2014 gets some cosmetic updates and updated engines. We drive the hot R version

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

While the VW Scirocco R, and the wider Scirocco family, benefits from some overdue revisions under the bonnet, the Golf-based coupe isn’t as dazzling as it once was. With the SEAT Leon Cupra - our current hot hatch of the year - winning fans and a new Audi TT on the horizon, the pool of rivals has grown stronger and the Scirocco can’t quite deliver the thrills that its gorgeous styling promises.

The UK is the biggest market in Europe for the Volkswagen Scirocco and now, six years after VW revived the Scirocco nameplate, it’s updated the coupe with the very latest technology and a mild facelift.

At the front, the headlights have been redesigned, as has the bumper, with its aerodynamic 'blades' and new black inserts to create a contrast with the paintwork. At the rear there are new C- shaped LED rear lights that extend further into the tailgate, while the bumper has been reshaped to add width.

The cabin has also had some attention, but it's limited to some new materials and a new steering wheel, borrowed from the VW Golf GTI, as well as a trio of auxiliary instruments – turbo pressure, engine oil temperature and chronometer – on the top of dashboard to emphasise the Scirocco's sporting intent.

A new range of EU6-compliant engines has been fitted, ranging from a 67.3mpg 147bhp 2.0-litre TDI emitting just 109g/km of CO2 (over half of UK buyers will opt for it) to the range-topping front-wheel drive Scirocco R, now with 15bhp more from its 276bhp 2.0-litre TSI engine. Despite not adopting the BlueMotion tech that all other Scirocco models have at their disposal, the DSG-equipped R still manages to improve its economy and emissions to 35.7mpg and 185g/km.

We drove the R to explore exactly what the new Scirocco is capable of. The 0-62mph sprint takes just 5.5 seconds when fitted with the dual-clutch DSG gearbox (or 5.7 seconds with the manual) – shaving 0.3 seconds off its predecessor. It’s not a huge amount, admittedly, but the engine’s gutsy growl is still highly entertaining when we piled on the revs (max power comes at 6,000rpm) and while it can’t match the four-wheel drive Golf R for traction off the line, in-gear acceleration on the German autobahn was mightily impressive.

Beyond the styling and engine tweaks, the chassis has been left alone. So despite suspension lowered by 10mm, adaptive dampers and a clever XDS electronic diff lock to boost traction, it never feels significantly more exciting than the standard 177bhp 2.0 TSI model, despite costing £5,345 more.

It still looks the part, but because it’s based on the old Golf MK6 chassis it can’t keep up with the new kids on the sports coupe block – especially the SEAT Leon Cupra, which is more economical, cheaper to buy and devour corners with more panache thanks to a mechanical limited-slip diff backing up the electronic XDS system.

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