It's much faster than the 60mph desert winds it was named after, and the Volkswagen Scirocco has long enticed sports-car buyers. Launched six months before Volkswagen's iconic Golf in 1974 and entering its second generation in 1981, the Scirocco was effectively shelved from 1992, but made an award-winning comeback in 2008.
This third-generation version of the three-door Scirocco (technically a hatchback, but known as a coupe) is as good-looking as ever, which is a necessity given the distinctive style of its main competitors, including the Peugeot RCZ, Renault Megane Coupe and Audi TT.
The range includes the GT and R-Line models, as well as the special Black Edition of both models in late 2015. The high-performance Scirocco R was released in 2009, while a new GTS model was showcased at the 2015 Shanghai Motor Show, replacing its 2013 predecessor.
In terms of engine options, the Scirocco has four petrols and two diesels. The entry-level 1.4-litre TSI petrol is available on the standard spec, the GT and the GT Black Edition, producing 123bhp. It has a six-speed manual gearbox and uses Volkswagen's BlueMotion Technology to boost efficiency – as do all Scirocco engines, excluding those in the GTS and R.
The other engine options are three versions of the 2.0-litre TSI petrol – one with 178bhp, one with 197bhp and one with 217bhp – and two versions of the 2.0-litre TDI diesel – one with 148bhp and one with 181bhp.
The GTS gets the 197bhp petrol and the R (which we’ve reviewed separately) gets the 217bhp one. The mid-range 178bhp TSI and 148bhp TDI engines are available on all of the other Scirocco models, with a choice of six-speed manual and seven-speed DSG automatic transmission.
The more powerful 181bhp diesel isn’t available on the standard model and costs £3,000 more than the 148bhp diesel. As its road tax costs £110 annually, we’d recommend the less powerful diesel, which costs £20-30 in road tax a doesn’t feel that much slower, especially in everyday driving.
In terms of trim, the GT Black Edition's added kit is worth the mere £550 extra you have to pay over the GT. This includes 18-inch black alloy wheels, a contrasting black roof, black door mirrors, black rear spoiler and 90% tinted rear windows.
Sat nav, climate control, front foglights, parking sensors, chequered-flag dashboard inserts, metallic pedals and part-Alcantara seats and interior trim also come as standard.
For all of its good points, though, the Scirocco is slightly overpriced compared to its competitors and it's easy to see why the newer Golf overshadows it. For example, the five-door, 2.0-litre Golf GTD TDI 181bhp is £1,000 cheaper, handles better and has more boot space than the three-door Scirocco R-Line with the same engine.
A more like-for-like 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.