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We drive the VW Scirocco

2008-11-30 18:33
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Volkswagen
Model Scirocco 2.0 TSI
Engine 1984
Power 149kW @ 5100 - 6000 r/min
Torque 207Nm @ 1700-5000 r/min
Zero To Hundred 7.2 seconds
Top Speed 235km/h
Fuel Consumption 7.6liter/100km

JD van Zyl

The VW Scirocco is no new concept. If you are a worthy Volkswagen fan you will know that the company produced a Scirocco Mark I in the 1970s which was replaced by the Mark II in the 1980s

Perhaps you will even know that the Scirocco that inspired the car’s name, is actually a warm and dry wind from the north of Africa which gathers moisture along its journey and ends as a humid breeze in the Mediterranean. And just like its meteorological  namesake which bridges dry and moist, VW is hoping to link a number of opposing ideas with the latest incarnation of the Scirocco sports coupé – most notably sportscar-like performance with everyday driveability.

At the launch of the Iroc concept in Paris two years ago (that’s the concept on which the Scirocco is largely based, as in ScIROCco), designer Murat Gunak explained that VW’s primary goal was to create an “affordable dream car”. The Scirocco had to be a thoroughbred sports car with plenty style, character and elegance. But it also had to be practical as an everyday mode of transport, have space for the shopping in the boot and with enough room for three passengers.

After the couple of days I spent with this new addition to the VW family, I think the company has definitely succeeded in their goal.

Even after Volkswagen trimmed the face of the concept model to something more, well, bland, the Scirocco still turns heads wherever you go. And if pedestrian attention is what gets you excited then the toxically green “Viper” paint finish will get you more eyeballs than you can handle.


The Scirocco is even prettier in real life than on these pictures – it is definitely the most attractive VW we have seen in the last two decades. This is also the forerunner of a whole new design style for the German manufacturer of which we will see a lot more in the near future.

A number of design details hark back to the original VW Scirocco. Like the glossy grille that spans like a bridge between the headlights and the curve in the windscreen design, both of which echo the Mark I. Also note how the VW emblem has now moved from the grille to the bonnet for a cleaner and clearer face.

On the outside the Scirocco looks purposeful and muscular, and its best feature are those full, well-rounded haunches. In the daylight these curves are beautifully highlighted by the accent line that stretch from the headlights all the way along the flanks and ends in the taillights.

Where it is currently parked in the UK’s autumnal sun, the Scirocco looks lower, wider and quite a bit meaner than the GTI, even though it is also based on the Golf platform.

Unfortunately it is difficult to sing similarly positive praises about the interior after I swing the driver’s frameless door open. The finishing is obviously on the expected VW level, that is not the problem. The company has even made a bit of effort to create a sporty feel by using rough white stitching on the seats, tossing in a sport steering wheel and opting for triangular armrests.

But the overall feel disappointingly lacks inspiration and isn’t at all in line with the promise of the packaging. Especially the dash, which has been taken straight out of the Eos, could do with a decent lashing of fresh interpretation.

Within the first few minutes on the road though, I forget about this disappointment and am again thoroughly impressed. This time by the Scirocco’s eager roadside manners…

Not only is the suspension set firm enough even in the Comfort setting to help you get the most out of the bends (and with plenty of feedback to boot), but it is also easy to do it. And because of the low seating position you feel very much involved with the driving task. Best of all, you definitely don’t need any racing qualifications to get the best out of this model.


The only thing that really bothers me is the Scirocco’s visibility problems. A chunky A-pillar, rear window the size of a letterbox slot (further obscured by two rear-seat headrests) and a tiny rear-view mirror will definitely take some getting used to.  

At the third traffic light I have to wait a moment for the light to change colour. Ahead of me stretches a beautiful piece of open tarmac which swerves sharply to the right before curving to the left again. This is the perfect opportunity to give the Scirocco a proper workout, and I quickly change the Adaptive Chassis Control (ACC) from Comfort to Sport to get better throttle response, more feedback and a firmer suspension setup.

The second the light changes to green I hit the throttle and push the 2.0 litre TSI engine with its 149kW till it is about to smack into the redline at 6.500rpm before I quickly drop into second and repeat my actions.

The sound bubbling from the two tail pipes, now that I am already well over 4 000 r/min, is a lot rougher and more aggressive than I expected. And although it takes a little more than seven seconds to reach the 100km/h mark, it feels as if you get there a great deal quicker.

The handling and grip in the bends is also a lot sharper and more fun-filled than in a GTI.

Which begs the question: Is there still a space for the GTI in the VW line-up with the arrival of the Scirocco?

The five door GTI does have the practical advantage of a bigger boot and more room in the rear. But with the Scirocco priced similar to the three door GTI, it just doesn’t make sense to settle for the model that is clearly the lesser of the two.

Not only is it more fun to push the Scirocco through bends, but its handling and overall styling is also a lot more exciting. What’s better is that none of this comes at the cost of comfort. No way, I will pick this VW over its hatchback sibling any day.

Read more on:    volkswagen

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