Named after a desert wind, the Volkswagen Scirocco has actually been around for six months longer than the iconic Volkswagen Golf. Now in its third generation, the Golf-based coupe made a comeback in 2008 to widespread acclaim, following a 16-year hiatus.
The Volkswagen Scirocco was always a good-looking car and this latest version is no exception – a good thing when you see how stylish direct rivals like the Peugeot RCZ, Audi TT and Renault Megane Coupe are.
However, although the Scirocco is regarded as a coupe, it's technically a hatchback and benefits from much of the practicality that that implies, making it well worth consideration if you’re looking at a higher-spec Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra, SEAT Leon or VW Golf.
The range is quite complex. The basic Scirocco is already pretty well equipped, with stylish alloy wheels, a touchscreen Bluetooth infotainment system, DAB radio and air-conditioning. It also includes all the essential safety and security equipment you’ll want.
The GT model, which features sat nav, dual-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors and bigger 18-inch alloy wheels is a package well worth spending an extra £1,850 on.
We’d find it harder to justify spending £2,070 more on the R-Line model, as the extra money here goes mainly towards interior and exterior styling features that the Scirocco still looks great without. Both the GT and R-Line can be further embellished for another £550 with the Black Edition, but it's debatable whether the tinted glass and black exterior features are worth the money.
The Scirocco and Scirocco GT are both available with either 1.4 or 2.0-litre TSI petrol engines, producing 123 and 177bhp respectively. These are best suited to lower-mileage drivers, and the choice is one of power or economy. The smaller engine offers 52mpg, the larger manages 46mpg.
There are two 2.0-litre TDI diesel engines available, making 148 and 181bhp, the latter of which is only available in GT spec or above. Fuel economy is best from the less powerful engine, which reaches 67mpg as opposed to 60mpg for the more powerful car. All engines available on the standard Scirocco and GT use Volkswagen's BlueMotion Technology to boost efficiency, and all except the 1.4-litre can be teamed with of Volkswagen's seven-speed DSG automatic transmission for an extra £1,500.
The more powerful 181bhp diesel isn’t available on the standard model and costs £1,000 more than the 148bhp diesel when chosen with the GT. As its road tax costs £110 a year, we’d recommend the less powerful diesel, which costs £20-30 in road tax and doesn’t feel that much slower, especially in everyday driving.
Those who want more power and even more exclusive looks can spend £28,500 on the Scirocco GTS, which is only available with a 217bhp 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine. It's very fast, with 0-62mph taking 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 153mph achievable. Its physical appearance, with unique styling, stripes and decals, certainly backs up its sporting credentials.
At the very top of the range is the high-performance £32,895 Scirocco R. With 276bhp, it makes no bones about valuing power above all else, cutting the 0-62mph dash still further to 5.7 seconds, while top speed is electronically limited to 155mph. Neither the GTS nor the R will be bought for their economy, the GTS achieving 44mpg, the R managing just 36.
Though it has much to recommend it, we find the Scirocco slightly overpriced compared to its competitors. It's easy to see why the newer Golf overshadows it. For example, the three-door, 2.0-litre Golf GT TDI 148bhp is £890 cheaper, handles better and has more boot space than the Scirocco GT with the same engine.
Another excellent coupe alternative would be the Peugeot RCZ, which we rate highly for its futuristic looks, lower price and sharp handling. The RCZ is perfectly reliable, too, having been ranked higher for customer satisfaction (74th) than the Scirocco (99th) in our 2015 Driver Power survey. On the safety front, the Scirocco was awarded the full five stars by Euro NCAP.