JUL 17th 2014

Can new Scirocco R outshine its Golf sibling?

Lunch is 125 miles away, there’s an unrestricted autobahn and a bunch of Sciroccos heading there. German launches, you’ve got to love them. Thing is, the Scirocco is not a car that’s blessed with back-road tearing credentials. It’s capable, of that there’s no doubt, just fairly unremarkable. While others do it better that’s not stopped UK buyers lapping up Volkswagen’s coupé-cum-hatchback at a rate only second to the Chinese. We like them then, though they’re mostly diesel-fuelled, rather than this range-topping 276bhp turbocharged petrol R model.

That’s enough to have the Scirocco reach its 155mph top speed with ease, as long, empty sections of the autobahn allow. The fuel consumption when doing so is more than an Oom-pah band’s post performance beer rate on a hot summer’s day, but then a bit of fuel pump penance is worth it for the brilliantly punchy performance and the engine note that accompanies it.

Volkswagen Scirroco R

It’s new apparently, the R benefitting from all the changes rolled out on the standard Scirocco line-up. So have a squint and you’ll see revised headlights, new bumpers and taillights that are LED lit rather than by incandescent bulbs. All very cool, but largely invisible unless you’re some sort of Scirocco enthusiast. Inside too, changes are scant, the most obvious (and we mean glaringly so when referring to the red digital clock read-out) is the triple instrument addition that sits atop the centre dash in homage to the original’s dash. There are revised cowls for the regular dials in front of you, but that’s about it.

Not that you’ll be complaining, as the Scirocco’s interior is as inviting as any modern Volkswagen’s, which is to say it’s finely built and works with the sort of user-friendliness and slick tactile feel that others should take note of. The R we’re testing does without DSG, which is a rarity, as most choose for the car to swap its own cogs, but doing so only results in lots of over-enthusiastic ratio swapping and plenty of revs. We’d urge you to stick with the stick, and enjoy the R’s mid-range pull, which offers more pleasure than the rather lifeless gearshift itself. The steering is direct enough, if lacking in any real feel, though the brakes are mighty, which is useful given the R’s ability to gain speed so easily. Grip levels are high, traction strong and handling all very predictable, but unlike the Scirocco R’s Golf sibling there’s no opportunity to switch off the ESP completely for a bit of silliness.

The R also lacks the rather more exotic output of the hatch, plus it also only drives the front axle. Volkswagen will point to the Scirocco R’s greater standard specification – we’re talking leather trim and DCC (Dynamic Chassis Control – switchable dampers, though don’t bother, leave in Normal) that you’d have to pay for in the Golf, but it remains true that the Golf’s specification is more interesting. Not least as the Golf R has got 296bhp to the Scirocco’s 276bhp. Still, it’d take a committed Golf R to shake a Scirocco R from its mirrors, though we know who’d be having more fun. And it’s not the driver of the coupé. Which is a problem, as the Golf’s cheaper, too…

Power to weight: 190bhp/ton
0-62mph: 5.9sec
Top speed: 155mph
Engine: Four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 276bhp at 6000rpm
Torque: 258lb ft at 2500- to 5000rpm
Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic, front-wheel drive
Wheels: 8J x 19in alloy front and rear
Tyres: 235/35 R19
Economy: 35.3mpg
CO2: 187g/km
Price: £33,795
On sale date: Now

Volkswagen Scirroco R

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