Volkswagen Scirocco coupe
Price: £20,525 - £30,235
- Stylish design
- Good to drive
- Practical cabin
- Bland interior design
- Boot is tricky to access
- Rear seats aren't very comfortable
"Good to look at and great to drive, the Volkswagen Scirocco offers an appealing blend of performance, practicality and style."
The sixth generation Volkswagen Scirocco is exciting to drive and a real challenger to the Renault Megane coupe and Audi A3. Adopting the name last used in 1992, it uses the MkVI Volkswagen Golf's underpinnings and comes in five main specifications – entry-level standard car, mid-spec GT, sportier R-Line and GTS versions, and top-of the-range performance-focused special edition R.
There are 1.4-litre turbocharged and supercharged petrol engines, plus a 2.0-litre diesel to choose from, with the latter available with BlueMotion for better engine efficiency. For the best balance of performance and economy, we’d recommend the GT 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine. Even though it was launched in 2008, the Scirocco still looks good and Volkswagen celebrated the millionth Scirocco sold in 2013.
MPG, running costs & CO2
VW's servicing price promise helps keep running costs down, while resale values are very strong
You’ll get the best fuel economy from the diesel Scirocco, with the most efficient being the 2.0-litre TDI BlueMotion, which returns 62.8mpg in combined fuel economy and emits 118g/km of CO2. The standard 2.0-litre diesel returns 53.3mpg in economy and emits 139g/km of CO2, while the entry-level 1.4-litre TSI petrol manages 44.1mpg and emits 149g/km. Volkswagen's ‘Service Promise’ means that servicing your Scirocco won’t be that expensive, with VW promising to match any quotes for required work and offer certain maintenance work for free.
Interior & comfort
Ride is never uncomfortable or harsh thanks to decent suspension
A journey in the Scirocco is always comfortable thanks to dampers that actively adjust the firmness of the suspension depending on the kind of road surface you’re driving on. It also feels solid and stable thanks to a wider chassis and more lightweight aluminium components – even the stiffer suspension setting of Sport mode doesn’t make the ride feel harsh. The Comfort mode is perfect for making long drives on the motorway very calm and easy on everyone inside.
There's plenty of space inside, with passengers in the back of the car getting a surprising amount of head and legroom. Taller occupants may struggle slightly, however, because of the sloping roof. The driver and front passenger get very comfy bucket seats that come with an excellent range of adjustment, making it easy for the driver to find the best driving position. The strict four-seater also has two sculpted seats in the back that are also very comfortable and supportive.
Practicality & boot space
You need the keys to access the awkwardly shaped boot
This is where the Scirocco throws up a flaw – you can only open the boot with the key fob or a button on the inside of the driver's door, so if you approach the car with arms laden with shopping, you’ll have to put it all down to fish your keys out of your pocket. Then the boot only offers 292 litres of space, which is 58 litres les than the sixth-generation VW Golf that's it's based on. Plus, the boot has a high load lip and is an awkward shape that makes loading difficult.
At least the standard-fit split-fold rear seats do fold flat to expand the boot space to 1,200 litres, which equals most of its key family hatchback rivals such as the Ford Focus. Inside, there's a reasonably sized glove compartment, and a centre console storage cubby, twin cup holders and deep door bins. If practicality is your number one priority, we think a Golf is the better choice.
Reliability & safety
Tried and tested parts are also used in the previous-generation VW Golf
Volkswagen may have a big reputation for reliability, but it still only ranked 16th in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey's manufacturers rankings – and that was a rise of two places from 2012. The Scirocco itself ranked 60th in the list of the top 100 cars, which was a fall of 25 places but is still a good performance for a car of its age. Interestingly, however, the MkVI Golf that the Scirocco is based on finished much higher up the chart.
Our experience was of a car that feels beautifully crafted and solidly built, with both steering and brakes feeling reassuringly weighty and responsive. In terms of safety, the Scirocco was awarded the full five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests and comes fitted with six airbags, electronic stability control (ESP), traction control, electronic brake force distribution and ISOFIX child-seat anchor points as standard.
Engines, drive & performance
Nimble on winding roads but avoid top-spec R, which is firm and uncomfortable
While it's based on the MkVI VW Golf GTI, the Scirocco feels very different to drive thanks to its wider and lower dimensions, and lighter aluminium suspension parts. Fast but composed when driving at motorway speeds, it's an agile and reactive car that offers lots of grip to keep it stable at all times. Adaptive Chassis Control (ACC) comes as standard, tailoring the drive to almost any conditions on the road. You can choose between Comfort and Sport modes, but enthusiastic drivers should use Sport to stiffen the suspension and sharpen the steering and acceleration. While the entire range is good, we’d recommend going for the 2.0-litre turbo manual, which has great performance. The 1.4-litre turbocharged and supercharged engine also impresses but the suspensions on the R-Line and GTC models can be uncomfortably firm, the drive uncompromising and the DSG automatic gearbox often sluggish and clunky.
Price, value for money & options
Great value compared to rivals with lots of standard equipment
The Scirocco is hardly cheap, but you do get a lot of equipment and accessories compared to its rivals. The entry-level model comes fitted 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 also gets the Adaptive Chassis Control, 18-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, front fog lights and tinted rear windows, while the R-Line further adds 19-inch alloy wheels. The top-of-the-range GTS throws in Bluetooth connectivity and unique GTS badging and styling, inside and out.
As it's still something of a rare sight on UK roads and has more niche appeal than other VWs, the Scirocco's resale values on the used car market should be strong and offer good value second-hand deals.
What the others say
As with its rival, the Scirocco's cabin can’t match the sense of occasion generated by the exterior. The dashboard is borrowed from the firm's Eos drop-top, while the switchgear and dials will be familiar to Golf owners.
Slightly chunkier 17in alloys and heavier-looking tyres – visually that's all that distinguishes the 1.4-litre Scirocco TSI from the full-strength 197bhp 2-litre. And for £387 of the £2K you’ve saved you can upgrade to 18s to complete the illusion.
While the 197bhp 2.0T engine might be broadly the same as the GTI's, the torque arrives earlier, making it seem quicker (though it hits 62mph in 7.2s, the same as the Golf). It's a bit inert when you really start to go mental, but you still come away with the sense that if you had to have a car that spans a multitude of situations, the Scirocco would be it.
So the Scirocco (named after a north African wind) is like a breath of fresh air. The last two were both based on the Mk 1 Golf. This one's underpinnings come from next year's Golf Mk VI. And it certainly brings back the excitement of the wonderful 190PS Corrado VR6.
Last updated: 20 Dec 2013