VW’s Stunning Scirocco Snuck in Under Our Radar

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A wonderful week with VW’s sexy Scud R. Did I say Scud? Of course I meant Scirocco R, the 188KW secret weapon which sells for a sensation over $52k drive-away. That does sound a lot doesn’t it, but no not a bit of it. After a few kilometres most would think it’s worth every centime.

It’s the delicious body you notice as you approach. There is no escaping the Golf-ness of it, but that’s also the beauty of it. Imagine someone popped a Golf R 3-door in an oven on high and as it started to melt, was removed and placed lovingly on a trivet to cool: what would be left? What’s left is something more perfectly baked and formed. It’s smooth and low but still based on a Golf, albeit the previous model (MK V) on which the Golf MK VI was also based. Just as an aside the New Golf (MK VII) has just been launched so we’ll bring you that shortly.

In the meanwhile the Scirocco: It is simply Scrumptious. There is very little adornment about her. Instead she relies on her beauteous face to charm onlookers, and charm it does. It’s not as flashy as the 86 and lacks the 5 doors of the Focus St but there is something about the Scirocco that makes people look. The advertising blitz was brief because VW sell every unit they can bring in so telling more people about it seems pointless. And it’s just as well, because I’d rather it was kept a secret that way its exclusivity is kept intact. Amazingly you see quite a lot of Sciroccos when you’re driving around in one yourself so you feel rather like being in a club with a secret handshake.

The front is very like the MK VI Golf which in turn is like lots of other Volkswagens which is a strength or weakness depending on your point of view. It’s got the handsome narrow grill, Bi Xenon headlights and LED running lights. The Bi-Xenon headlights are a development of Volkswagen’s Xenon headlight technology and use an electromagnetically operated shutter to control light output.

The 19” Talladega wheels look huge and are barely contained by the bulging arches and the lot is made to look even more impressive by the low roof. The sexiest bit for me is the pert rump with its low roof spoiler and tiny little hatch. It’s here of course the keen eyed among you will notice the only badge apart from the VW badge is the “R” signifying the performance range. The back is made to look a little more streamlined by a scoop of black arching over from one tailpipe to the other right in the lower section. It has the effect of visually removing some of the bulk.

The cabin is accessed by a distinctly low-tech press of the key fob button. Opening the doors emphasises just how long they are which you’ll only regret in parking garages. You’ll need to leave a bit of extra space if you have a dickie knee!

You’ll find the cabin has most of the things a young man about town expects. Like the exterior, the cabin is understated and very reminiscent of all the other VW cabins. It’s restrained, even a little bit old fashioned but very very classy. The seat fabric is the kind usually described as “sports” fabric and feel a little like a wet suit. The instruments are laid out with the German efficiency which brought us the fabulous Autobahns, Mozart and Bauhaus. It’s neat with everything clearly labelled and in exactly the right place.

The wipers and lights have an auto function and the Cruise Control is a simple rocker switch for set/resume and a 2nd switch for on/off. The steering wheel has the standard VW layout with driver and car info on one side and infotainment and phone on the other. The centre stack holds the audio and climate controls. The LCD displays the functions as well as the graphic the reverse sensors. For the life of me I can’t understand why they didn’t just install a camera instead. It would have cost three bucks.

While we’re up front let’s take a second to talk about the sound system. Dynaudio Excite premium audio system, 300W digital amplifier with 8 speakers comes with the Satnav option. The sound is powerful with rich deep tones, and crisp clear upper range. It sounded brilliant at any volume.

Annoyingly we were forced to spend most of the time on radio or BT Streaming. The USB is not compatible with Iphone 5 and will not charge or stream music. The compatible cable is not yet available. Moreover the BT offers no control, not even forward/backward/stop/play could be coaxed from it. Since you’re not allowed to touch your phone while driving it makes for an interesting performance. You’ll need a playlist with no songs you want to skip. Alternately you could take every trip with a chum riding shotgun.

The Volkswagen group take great care to use the same eye for detail in all their models. In fact sitting in VW feels like sitting in most other VW’s which means there is a reassuring feel of quality no matter what your budget stretches to. That’s exactly how it should be, but there are some little things that sneak through regardless of the thoroughness of the development. The Scirocco has the tiniest rear-view mirror in history. The problem is made worse by the small back window and low roof. Looking backwards while driving gives you an excellent view of bonnets and the occasional truck grille but not recommended at speed. It may look hot as hell but trying to reverse into a tight car park can be tricky with such a small window. As I mentioned earlier, all of this could have been illuminated by a $3 CCD camera pointing backwards, and displaying on the LCD screen on the dash, and one wonders why it isn’t so. Instead, the rear sensors show a graphic on the screen showing if you get close to something. It simply won’t do, it isn’t the same as being able to see the view in real time. What’s more only a real picture is going to help you park straight. We’ve all done it, we’ve all gotten out of the car only to find our first attempt has gone horribly wrong and limited view will make it worse, trust me.

The seats are fairly comfortable for a hard edge sports car. There is side support to keep you in place in tight corners and sculptured seat and back should fit most of us. I’m not a fan of rock hard seats with bit that poke into you in unexpected locations. We didn’t have the chance to do a long trip but a couple of hours didn’t have bits of me going to sleep. There are some fancy names for the fabric but I still think Kyalami and San Remo still sound like Mediterranean holiday destinations.

Finally the drive, which is what most will be gagging to hear all about.

I want to scream “Fabulous” but I’ve restrained myself for the duration. From the out, there was no doubt the Scirocco was a hard core hot hatch/sports coupe. With 3 modes, the chassis control changes the damping continually up to 1,000 times a minute. Sport mode toughens up the chassis almost to the point of being harsh but the cornering is a rewarding experience. On the other hand normal is a good trade off and is where we left it some of the time, but I opted for “Comfort” which makes for a very pleasant city cruiser. I’ve driven many a hot hatch that shook fillings loose and were impossible to live with. Such is not the case with the sexy Scirocco.

Then we have a stupendous 6 sec 0-100 acceleration which is only a few seconds under a $200k Ferrari. Only ten years ago 6 seconds was considered remarkable and almost in supercar territory. You’ll remember we drove the slightly mental Ford Focus recently and loved it but that drive was marred by the steering. Front wheel drive cars are notorious for kicking the steering wheel over under hard acceleration. The Ford electronically corrects this giving the wheel an odd over-assisted sensation. The VW relies on good engineering rather than fancy gadgets and we are better off for it. Sticking the boot into the Scirocco will not wrench the wheel from your hands.

The trip through the Royal National park was joyous. The superb engine freely spins with the smallest of hints and with the 188kw on call, the temptation to do so is irresistible. She switched directions as if she read my mind, without feeling in the least bit tetchy or jumpy. The brakes had the right amount of feel too and never felt they have faded. Of course the suite of safety gizmos use the brakes, engine and diff to ensurie the car into stays on the road. If the system slams on the brakes in an emergency it applies extra pressure to account for the slow driver response time. At the same time it starts the brake lights flashing to alert those coming behind. Most VeeDubs have Hill Start Assist now so handbrake starts on hills have been consigned to the dustbin of history. It goes without saying that the ASR, EDL, ESP and XDL work together to make the driver look even more impressive. I mention them only to feed my fetish for TLA’s. Volkswagen have minimised the understeer by even more clever design so throwing her into corners then rocketing out the other side feels like second nature.

The exhaust has a nice raspy note at times which is as well because the 6sp manual loves being held right on the edge. Keep the revs up makes the drive even more scintillating because the power and torque are instantly available.

One safety device of a questionable and peripheral nature is rear fog light. In my opinion they should be banned from cars driven by anyone in a cap. High intensity lights hurt your eyes when you’ve driven behind them for more than a few hundred metres. I’ve noticed a fog lamp switch just there, although I realise you can’t see me pointing. I also realise you can’t see that I’ve removed my cap or that I’ve just noticed I’ve been driving with the rear fog lights on so have switched them off. I wonder how many motorist now hate Volkswagen Sciroccos?

The sad thing here is that the full potential of this magnificent car will not be fully realised pottering around city streets not that it isn’t perfectly happy doing so. Nor will it be realised on a highway because once at 110kph that’s it, but it is a very comfortable cruiser. There is much kerfuffle over whether a manual or auto (DSG in VW’s case) is best and the truth is that more than 85% of vehicles are sold without a clutch. This is nothing more than a shift on thinking. Most people live in cities, a trend being repeated all over the world. Cities are places where a trip of 20 k’s will be done at an average of 30 kph unless you commute big distances on highways.

Opinion is also divided as to whether or not a clutch-less manual or automatic is the way to go and CVT’s have now been added to the mix. Arguments have been made in the past about how much extra control you have in a manual gearbox over an auto of any form. That may have once been true, but not for a very long time. I say this even though the manual gear change in the Scirocco is fabulously smooth, but the DSG will aim to have you in the highest possible gear for fuel savings. Those wanting more control can simply use the manual option and shift the gears at the preferred time. So, it’s merely a show of testosterone which induces an individual to choose a more difficult option in choosing a clutched model. The test car was manual with 6 speeds, and as enjoyable as it was, the DSG in the city provides the best of both worlds. It isn’t that I don’t like changing gears, I do, I like it very much but I don’t see any reason to make things difficult when very clever people have tried to make things simple. And that goes for all the fancy schmancy new gadgets including automated parking, rear view cameras automated lights and wipers. I’ll have them all thank you very much and except for the camera, the Scirocco has the lot.

By now you’ll have gleaned that I’m rather keen on Volkswagen’s Scirocco. Those lucky Europeans have had her for several generations but the current one looks just fine to me and is the first on OZ shores. The fuel consumption is good for a high powered sports car for the common man and the cost, well, $52k doesn’t sound bad when put in the right perspective. Would I buy her with my own money? Yes sir I would. It’s very hard to convey a true sense of a vehicle in only a few words, and just as it’s hard to gather the true mark of a car in a 15 minute test run. Each day I fell more and more in love with the Scirocco as I’m sure many people have in the past. She is a classy sports tourer that is very happy to be used as a daily hack, and never are you going to feel that you have paid too much. Vintage Sciroccos fetch huge money now, just sayin…..

Price: $52,000 (approx)

0-100 6.0 secs

fuel tank 55L

econ combined 8.2 L/100k

power/torque 188kw/330Nm

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