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Volkswagen Scirocco R driven

2010-06-08 06:48
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Volkswagen
Engine 2.0-litre TSI
Power 195kW @ 6 000r/min
Torque 350Nm @ 3 500 r/min
Zero To Hundred 6.0 seconds
Top Speed 249km/h
Fuel Consumption 8.1 /100km (combined)

JD van Zyl

While it is easy to belittle the Scirocco as a “poor man’s TT”, such cynics are clearly missing the point. Because were that statement true, then the Audi TT would be nothing more than a poor man’s Cayman, which in turn would just be a poor man’s 911 and that would be a poor man’s... You get the picture.

The truth is the Scirocco provides plenty of thrills for your buck and comes all wrapped in a package infinitely more exciting than a Golf. And now, with the addition of a racy R model to the line-up, the sporty VW coupe is finally getting the styling and performance it always needed.

This is the first Scirocco model sporting an R-badge, and with 265 horses (195kW) neighing under the bonnet, it is also the fastest, most focused, and technically advanced production coupé Volkswagen has ever created.

Are you actually able to pick the R from a group of standard ’Rocs?

Absolutely. In addition to a hot new engine, several design and technical updates make sure you can tell the difference between the R and lesser Scirocco models. On the outside the sporty Scirocco is treated to several details to give it a harder-edged and more purposeful appearance.

This is done with great effect using gloss black finishing for the brake calipers, grille and door mirrors (all of which remains black regardless of the car’s colour). These touches are complemented by a new exhaust system with chunkier twin tailpipes, racy five-spoke 18-inch alloys (or optional 19-inchers), meatier bumpers as well as ever-more-ubiquitous LED day running lights.

And on the inside? Does that also look special?

It sure does. The somewhat more sinister blacked-out approach of the exterior is continued on the inside where all the chrome or brushed metal inserts of the standard model have been replaced by high-gloss black bits that contrast nicely with the turned aluminium trim. Sculpted sports seats, electric blue “R” needles and a flat-bottomed steering wheel complete the package.

On the whole, the cabin is a decent step up from standard models and it goes without saying that the finishing is top-notch, but it would have done no harm had VW distanced the R ’Roc even further from its minor siblings.

Enough about its looks. How does it drive?

The star of the R show is the four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine that powers the Golf GTI. For the Scirocco R the block has been reinforced with a new alloy head, uprated pistons, conrods and high pressure injectors. VW has also added an uprated turbocharger and new intercooler to cope with the extra heat generated.

The result? A pretty impressive 195kW and 350Nm of torque – that’s a hike of 40kW and 69Nm over the previous range-topping Scirocco. The Scirocco R also has a much more rasping soundtrack than the GTI (though we again wouldn’t complain if VW amped it another notch or two to get a little closer to that of, say, a Leon Cupra R).

If you are a fan of truly dedicated hot hatches like the Honda Type R, then you are likely to find the Scirocco’s drive a little too, err, civilised. Even in sooped-up R format.

Don’t get me wrong, it slices through curves with a tautly controlled body, the uprated engine has buckets of shove and the steering is crisp and precise with virtually not a trace of torque steer.

And did we mention quick? In R format the Scirocco will dash past the 100km/h mark in 6.0 seconds (5.8 seconds with DSG) and on to a maximum speed of 249km/h. But the experience of inching towards this maximum speed just isn’t quite as rewarding or thrilling as in some of its competitors.

On the upside, living with the Scirocco R on a daily basis is something easily accomplished – largely thanks to its brilliant Adaptive Chassis Control (ACC) system that allows users to switch between Normal, Sport and Comfort modes.

The Scirocco R is a cracking sports coupe that is a hoot to drive and rewards with buzzy performance. And the fact that you won’t have to strap your kidney belt on when heading off for the morning school run will earn it some serious points with many more practicality-oriented buyers.

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