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Scirocco 'R': Red hot, but green

2011-06-09 07:39

MEAN GREEN MACHINE: VW's new 188kW Scirocco 'R' - this is the six-speed DSG - stops to graze during the SA launch in KZN. Images: LES STEPHENSON

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer VW
Model Scirocco 'R'
Engine Four-cylinder, two-litre turbo
Power 188kW at 6000rpm
Torque 350Nm from 2500-5000rpm
Transmission Six-speed manual or auto
Zero To Hundred Six seconds
Top Speed 250km/h
Fuel Tank 55 litres
Fuel Consumption About eight litres/100km
Steering Electric
Airbags Yes
Tyres 235/35 on 19" spoked alloy rims
Service Intervals 15 000km
Service Plan Five years or 90 000km
Warranty Three years or 120 000km
Price Manual R403 355, DSG auto R417 855
Rivals Renault Megane Coupe, Ford Focus RS, BMW 1 Series Coupe, Audi S3

Les Stephenson

The VW Scirocco has been around in South Africa for a couple of years in its current form but the hot 'R' version joined the line-up this week with a media launch in KZN and a stirring drive through the hilly terrain and sugarcane fields around Richmond.

The car was first shown in South Africa at the Johannesburg auto show in October 2008 and was slated for launch here in the second quarter of 2009. In fact it arrived (also with an event in the same area of Natal) in April 2009 and brought with it the now familiar new “family face” of VW.

The Scirocco 'R' follows the recent launch at Kyalami of its sister ship, the it’s-been-around-for-ever Golf also with an 'R' tagged on to its hatch back. The Golf, though, continues to tickle the gonads of aspiring (perspiring?) young studs across the nation once they get their first five-figure pay-cheque.


Which is cool, and their choice, but the choice is under pressure from their peers. The Scirocco is smarter. Under its sleek and sexy shell is, essentially, a Golf 'R' but hey, just look at the two of them. Each is named after a weather system (the Golf for the Gulf Stream, Scirocco is the Italian name for a warm Mediterranean wind that blows from the Sahara) but the Scirocco costs less than a Golf 'R' and despite their potential only the driver will determine which goes and handles better.

And to prove it (or, of course, not) VW SA said "once you're off the N3 and on the R56 the road is yours". It's a twisty, hilly, sometimes good and sometimes poor, road with few people and fewer cars so is an excellent route for any car to be put through its paces.

So we did and the grins at the refreshment and fuel stops along the 400km route told it all. This is one helluva car if you’re prepared to pay the R70 000 premium over its lesser sister. VW sees it as a competitor for the Ford Focus ST, Renault Megane Coupe, Audi's S3 and BMW's 1 Series Coupe. VW is hoping for Scirocco 'R' sales of around 25 a month.

At its heart is a two-litre, four-cylinder engine whose block has been reinforced with an entirely new alloy head and uprated pistons, con rods and high-pressure fuel-injectors plugged in.

GREEN IS THE COLOUR OF ENVY: If you're a blue-blooded driver then wave the Scirocco 'R' flag by choosing an outlandish colour such as this. You don't need running lights to be spotted...

An uprated turbocharger generating 1.2 bar of boost has, VW says, been joined by a new intercooler to handle the extra heat generated and the result is 188kW and 350Nm of torque. The result is stunning: a fast, brilliant-handling coupe that, as you might have noticed above, makes me wonder why the nation’s great aspirers still look with lust at the boring old been-there-for-ever Golf - and there is the cost factor. (Go for it guys, the comments box is down below.)


It's the same chassis as the Golf 'R' and the cabin is pretty much the same but there are, of course, only two doors. Family buyers, beware.

There's also a hatch (does that make it a hatchback-coupe or a coupe-hatchback? VW called it both at the launch in Durban this week). Whatever, the wannabes who still insist on a GTI/'R'; well, get this: the Scirocco is everything the Golf is, but better-looking.

Having one will show your reluctance to follow the herd and, if your new five-figure pay-cheque is taking strain, I repeat that it costs less than a Golf 'R'. In base form at least, because there's a number of options that can seriously jack up the tag such as metallic paint (R800), upgraded sound system (R4000), adaptive chassis control (R10 470) and a sunroof (R8820).


The Scirocco ‘R’ is offered with a choice of six-speed manual or DSG gearbox, each sending urge to the front wheels through an electronically controlled front differential. The brakes are big (345mm up front and 310 at the rear) and new callipers finished in glossy black shine through the five-spoked ‘Talladega’ alloy rims which come with seriously grippy 235/35 rubber shared with the "other 'R'".

The suspension is monitored 10 000 times a second by specially tuned pneumatic shocks and the exhaust sings a beautiful melody through two wide pipes, one each side of the car's sculpted rear instead of the linked pair of the lesser Sciroccos.

FOREST FRIENDS: Wheel arches well-filled by 19" alloys soled with 35-profile rubber are features of the 2011 VW Scirocco 'R'.

My advice is to cough up the extra for the auto box: the DSG system changes faster than you’ll ever manage, comes with paddles on the steering wheel and the turbo vent thuds open with a visceral reverberation during every up-change.

The Scirocco 2.0 TSI manual, including VAT and emissions tax, costs R403 355 and the DSG auto R417 855. The 188kW Golfs cost R408 930 and R423 430 respectively. Small change, really, but VW hopes it will make many buying decisions.

Both ranges come with a five-year or 90 000km service plan, a three-year or 120 000km warranty and a 12-year warranty against rust-through. Service intervals are 15 000km.

A number of factory-fitted options are available on the Scirocco ‘R’, among them an electric tilting sunroof, DynAudio sound system, satnav, dynamic chassis control, radio-CD player with MP3 and a six-disc changer and racing bucket seats.

The tuning of the springs, shocks and anti-roll bars has been modified to suit the lower seating positions and the weight distribution of the Scirocco ‘R’. It’s 10mm lower than the standard car and has “a significantly” wider track than its Golf sister - in front it’s 1561mm (28mm more than the Golf) and at the rear 1553mm (38mm more).


Buyers who want even more of a sporty and dynamic drive can specify a dynamic chassis control system and select ‘normal’, ‘comfort’ or ‘sport’ settings to reset the suspension reaction and steering and accelerator responses.

The car also comes standard with an electronic cross-axle traction control system, a functional extension of the electronic limited-slip differential which is a part of the standard stability control equipment which operates at warp speed on twisty roads.

Sensors measure lateral forces, and anti-lock brake sensors compare wheel rotation speed and the car’s computers will predict when an inside wheel is about to lift. The result on a normal system is mild braking (to increase traction) on the opposite front wheel; the ‘R’ brakes the inner wheel before it loses traction and even compensates for understeer.

The body-style changes have been made with the ‘R’ package that’s available on a number of VW products. The front and rear bumpers of the conventional Scirocco have been replaced, the nose is dominated by three deep air dams joined by a set of LED daytime running lights. The gloss black grille has a discreet ‘R’ badge and sits between standard bi-xenon headlights.

Subtle sill extensions replace the rubbing strip of the other Sciroccos.


The rear bumper still emphasises the seductively wide hips of the cars but a new diffuser is framed by the chromed exhausts and smoked rear-light covers, VW says, “lend the Scirocco ‘R’ greater presence”.

The gloss black finish of the grille and callipers is also used on the external mirrors and the rear diffuser no matter the colour of the car’s body.

While you’re flipping through the curves your body will hardly move, thanks really hip-hugging leather sports seats (front and back), but your hands will be moving on an artwork of a flat-bottomed steering wheel (more black inserts).

The shine is brought back, however, with ‘R’ kick plates on the thick door-sills.


Outright hauling is on par with the Golf ‘R’; 0-100km/h in 5.8sec with the preferred DSG box, six with the manual, and top speed is limited to 250km/h. VW claims eight litres/100km fuel consumption from either gearbox and CO2 emissions logged at about 188g/km.

Among the many standard items on the Scirocco ‘R’ not already mentioned are front and curtain air bags, IsoFix child seat anchors, two-zone aircon, 50/50 split rear seats big enough for youngsters or small adults, auto wipers, headlights and dimming mirror, rear parking sensors (those wide hips get in the way!), heatable exterior mirrors, power socket in the boot and tyre-pressure monitors.

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