"Good to look at and great to drive, the Volkswagen Scirocco offers an appealing blend of performance, practicality and style."
Exciting to drive and a worthy rival for the likes of the Renault Megane coupe and the sporty Audi S3, the sixth-generation Volkwagen Scirocco – the first car to use the name since VW discontinued the old coupe in 1992 – is based on the suspension and chassis also used by the previous generation Volkswagen Golf. The coupe range comes in five specifications – the entry-level standard car, mid-spec GT, sportier R-Line and GTS versions and top-of the-range performance-focused special edition R. The range offers 1.4-litre turbocharged and supercharged petrol engines, plus a 2.0-litre diesel that can now also be ordered with BlueMotion Technology for superior fuel economy and efficiency. It looks great, too, even though it first debuted back in 2008 and the interior sticks too closely to the Volkswagen Eos for the distinctive exterior styling. For the best balance of performance, economy and cost, we’d recommend the GT model with the 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine. A triumphant return – but what next for this now aging model? Well, Volkswagen celebrated the millionth Scirocco sold in 2013 with a special edition Scirocco Million model. Unfortunately this is yet to be released in the UK market.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
As you’d expect, the diesel engine in the Scirocco offers better fuel economy than the petrol cars, but the most efficient is the 2.0-litre TDI with BlueMotion Technology, which returns 62.8mpg and emits 118g/km. After that, the standard 2.0-litre diesel returns 53.3mpg and emits 139g/km, while the entry-level 1.4-litre TSI still returns 44.1mpg and emits 149g/km of CO2. Thanks to the Volkswagen Service Promise, servicing is also reasonably good value, with VW promising to match quotes for any required work and offer some routine maintenance for free.
Interior & comfort
Because the four-seater Scirocco's dampers are constantly adjusting the suspension's stiffness to fit the quality of the road surface you’re driving on, the ride is never allowed to become uncomfortable. Such a system is even more valuable after years of austerity making the UK's roads even more rough and ready. And because it has a wider chassis and lighter aluminium suspensions parts, it also feels very stable on any challenging road you encounter - even when set in Sport mode with its stiffer suspension settings, the ride never becomes intolerable or crashy. On the motorway, if you set the car to Comfort mode, it becomes very cool and calm inside. The interior offers lots of space for both driver and passengers, with even adults seated in the back of the car getting a surprising amount of leg and headroom. That said, the sloping roof does make it bit tighter for taller grown-ups. The front bucket seats are very comfortable, especially over long distances, with an impressive amount of adjustment to find just the right driving position. The rear features two sculpted seats that are also very comfy and supportive.
Practicality & boot space
You know you’re not dealing with a practical car when the boot can only be opened by the keyfob or from a button on the driver's door. That's right – if you’ve got your arms loaded with shopping but can’t get your car keys out of your pocket, you can’t open the boot directly. Hmm. And while the 292-litre boot is only 58 litres less than the sixth-generation VW Golf on which it's based, the Scirocco's boot is not terribly easy to load. It has a high load lip and awkward-shaped opening that makes getting bulky items in or out incredibly difficult. That said, at least the rear seats do fold flat to create a total luggage capacity of 1,200 litres. With the seats folded, the rear of the car does at least match its key rivals, being almost as spacious as family hatchbacks like the Ford Focus or Golf. You get a decent-sized glove compartment, plus a storage cubby in the centre console, twin cup holder and deep door bins. And you could argue that if practicality was very important to you, then you should be looking at the Golf anyway.
Reliability & safety
Given Volkswagen's strong reputation for reliability, it's surprising that the company only placed 16th in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey – and that was up two places from 2012. Meanwhile, the Scirocco came in at number 60 in the top 100 cars, a drop of some 25 places over the previous poll. What is interesting, though, is its sister car, the MkVI Golf, finished much higher up the chart. None of this changes the fact that it feels beautifully crafted and robustly constructed, with both steering and brakes feeling reassuringly weighty. It also secured a maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, coming fitted with six airbags, traction control, electronic brake force distribution, ISOFIX child-seat anchor points and electronic stability control as standard.
Engines, drive & performance
Loosely based on the MkVI VW Golf GTI, the lower and wider Scirocco is built with lightweight aluminium suspension parts that make it feel very different to drive compared to its hatchback cousin. It's fast but suitably calm at motorway speeds, with a nimble and responsive drive that has plenty of grip. Adaptive Chassis Control (ACC) is fitted as standard, which allows the car's drive to be tailored to almost any given situation you might encounter on the road. Drivers can choose between Comfort and Sport modes, but keen drivers should go straight to Sport, which stiffens the suspension and sharpens steering and throttle responses. The whole engine range is excellent, with our recommendation being the 2.0-litre turbo, which, when combined with a manual gearbox, offers pretty strong acceleration. The 1.4-litre turbocharged and supercharged engine also impresses but we would think carefully about plumping for the R-Line and GTC models, as the suspension is uncomfortably firm, the drive is uncompromising and the DSG automatic gearbox often feels slow and clumsy.
Price, value for money & options
With the Scirocco range topping out at nearly £30,000, you could hardly describe it as cheap. But compared to its rivals you do get a lot of equipment for your money and ultimately it is better value for money than you might first think. The entry-level model comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, dusk sensor, touchscreen sat-nav infotainment system, automatic windscreen wipers and auto-dimming rear-view mirror as standard. The GT adds the Adaptive Chassis Control, 18-inch alloys, two-zone climate control, front fog lights and tinted rear windows, while the R-Line has 19-inch alloy wheels and the top-of-the-range GTS offers Bluetooth connectivity and unique GTS badging and styling, inside and out - since it's purely cosmetic we don't think the extra cash is worth it. Also, as it's not as common and more niche than other VWs, it should have strong resale values and be snapped up on the used car market pretty sharpish.