If special is how you like to feel, then a bright red Scirocco should be on your shopping list. Passers-by will stare, motorists will perform harrowing stunts to take a closer look, the usually quick-witted robot retailers will be lost for words and school kids will want your autograph – such is the visual impact of this lady in red.
The new Scirocco is a beautiful car, as it should be when you consider it is the first car in the Volkswagen stable to sport the new face of the brand. Take a cruise along your nearest stretch of national road and you’ll soon discover the impression it leaves on other motorists as they move out of the way to let you past. As you sprint by they may notice the rising window line, 18-inch ‘Interlagos’ wheels with their 235/40 rubber and 1,8 meter long roof line that give the Scirocco its sporty profile. The last view they’ll have is of the narrow roof contrasting against the wide body, muscular haunches accentuated by the lines of tail-lights and the chunky rear bumper housing the twin-tailpipes. Once you slow down to look for a park in front of a trendy cafe however, there is a price to pay for the unique styling. With the large C-pillars, narrow rearview mirror and prominent headrests built-in to the rear seats, you’ll need to be alert when parallel parking to avoid the wrong kind of attention.
The Scirocco has been most criticised for borrowing the dashboard straight from its Eos stablemate and after having created such a beautifully sculpted exterior, it’s surprising to step inside to find a rather starke and undramatic interior. Apart from the sporty seats, high window line and muscular haunches, reflected in each side mirror, it doesn’t feel as special as you would expect, although interior quality is typically excellent.
The leather seats with white stitching and heavy side bolsters add a sporty intent to an otherwise bland interior. They hug the body well, providing good lateral support and feature electronically adjustable lumbar support as standard. Rear passengers may be surprised by the amount of leg and headroom available, as well as the contoured bucket seats to keep them in place around corners. Cruise control, heated seats, tinted side and rear windows are standard on the Scirocco. One omission from the cabin was that of a multi-function steering wheel, which left us feeling a bit ‘cheated’ in a car priced north of the R300k mark. Our test car was fitted with VW’s DynAudio ‘RCD-510′ 6-disc front loading CD-changer and MP3 compatible radio, featuring a 300W 8-channel amplifier. What this mouthful translates to, is music to your ears. Plug-in your iPod via the auxillary connector in the centre armrest and whether listening to Frank Sinatra or Kings Of Leon, you’ll be rewarded with crystal clear notes and deep, well-rounded bass. Should the music transport you to another dimension, well let’s just say that passengers are well taken care of with 6 air bags and the obligatory electronic nannies such as ESP with ABS, Brake Assist and Anti-Spin Regulator (ASR).
The sceptics may say that the new Scirooco is nothing more than a restyled 2-door Golf GTI – a GTI in wolf’s clothing. Yes and no, because although the Scirocco shares the Golf’s PQ35 platform, VW have done enough tweaking to give it an edge. For starters, the Scirocco weighs 65 kg less than Mk5 GTI and 75 kg less than the new one. It’s 100 millimeters (mm) shorter, 35 mm wider at the front, 59 mm at the rear and rides on wider 18-inch rubber. VW has even gone as far as using aluminium steering knuckles in the rear suspension to save weight and make way for the wider tyres. What these figures translate to is a lower centre of gravity, quicker steering response and superior agility to its GTI brethren.
There’s a blip of the throttle as you drop a gear on the 6-speed DSG gearbox and the Scirocco hunkers down to the task ahead while you step on the brakes for your favourite corner. Turn-in is direct and although steering feel may be lacking, the car always goes exactly where you point it. The sports seats hold you steady as you make for the apex, tightening your line slightly with an easing up of the throttle to reveal a hint of tendancy toward lift-off oversteer. The taught suspension and minimal body roll provide you with good feel and control at all times. Putting the ‘pedal to the metal’ as you glide past the apex causes the ESP to step in, limiting any understeer and keeping you in check. The rear-end squats and the exhaust growls as you accelerate towards the next corner to repeat the process with a smile on your face. Head into city traffic and the Scirocco easily settles into a relaxed pace with the reknowned DSG gearbox doing a superb job of capitalising on the available torque of the 2,0-litre motor.
Two turbocharged engines will be available in the Scirocco. International Engine of The Year for 2009, the 118 kW 1,4-litre TSI will be available from the 3rd quarter of this year but initially the car is only available with VW’s familiar turbocharged 2,0-litre FSI unit. The 2,0-litre turbo may have been borrowed from the outgoing GTI but it has received modifications to the crank, pistons and connecting rods, making it a more refined engine for service in the Scirocco. Peak power remains unchanged with 147 kW available at 6 000 rpm, 900 rpm higher than before and torque of 280 N.m is available from a slightly lower 1 700 rpm through to the 5 000 rpm mark. Floor the accelerator away from the lights and 100 km/h will be reached in a claimed 7.1 seconds, keep your nerve and the Scriocco will reach 233 km/h flat out.
On the open road the Scirocco impressed us with its torquey acceleration between gears and we were almost always travelling faster than expected when glancing at the speedometer. On paper the Scirocco’s 147 kW won’t set any hearts a flutter by today’s hot-hatch standards, even VW’s own Golf 6 GTI eclipses the Scirocco by 8 kW. Thankfully VW are aware of this and the Scirocco’s chassis, with its sure footed and well balanced handling, has already received a 195 kW tuned version of the 2,0-litre turbo in the form of the Scirocco R. The Scirocco 2.0 TSI makes for a mini grand tourer, equally capable whether carving through mountain passes or sprinting across the plains of the Karoo. We look forward to the ‘R’ version however, when the Scirocco’s bite will truely match its bark.
What we like…
- The new face of VW and those sporty rear haunches.
- Head turning style for a bargain price.
- It’s a genuine four seater with a useful 312-litre of luggage space.
- All the makings of a baby GT car.
What we would like…
- Multi-function steering wheel as standard.
- The optional park-distance control to assist with narrow parking in town.
- A more inspiring dashboard to match the exterior styling.
- A sportier exhaust note from the rear to match the agressive looks up front.
|Base Price||R336 500|
|Price As Tested||R349 820|
|Warranty||3 year / 120 000km|
|Service Intervals||15 000km|
|Engine Capacity||1984 cm³|
|No. Of Cylinders||4-cylinders, in-line|
|Power||147 kW @ 6 000rpm|
|Torque||280 Nm @ 1 700 – 5 000rpm|
|Acceleration||0-100 km/h in 7.1 seconds (claimed)|
|Top Speed||233 km/h (claimed)|
|Fuel Consumption||7.6 l/100km (claimed combined)|