Hot new Scirocco will get front-wheel drive and 261bhp
21 May 2009

This is the new VW Scirocco R, the first in a new generation of lighter, simpler performance cars from Volkswagen with smaller engines, lower fuel consumption and improved emissions.

The new Scirocco R has a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine, which will effectively replace the six-cylinder engines used by the last R-badged Golf, the R32. It’s part of a strategy to cut the fuel consumption and emissions of performance VWs and increase the social acceptance of the cars.

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The new range-topping Scirocco’s engine is a modified version of the last Golf GTI’s EA113 2.0-litre with direct injection; the latest GTI uses the EA888 2.0-litre. It has a higher compression ratio than the GTI’s engine and was chosen because it’s easier (and cheaper) to modify than the newer powerplant.

The R’s engine gets a new head, uprated pistons and conrods, and higher-pressure injectors. The turbo produces more boost, and there’s a new intercooler to deal with the extra heat.

Combined, these changes give the new engine 261bhp and 258lb ft — and all of the torque is available from 2500rpm through to 5000rpm, one of the advantages of using direct injection on a petrol engine. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, while a six-speed, twin-clutch DSG is optional.

The car isn’t four-wheel drive either, unlike previous R models. Volkswagen is confident it has produced a front-drive sports hatch that will handle as well as a Golf GTI, despite having more power.

Dumping four-wheel drive also helps keep the weight down; the R has a 1333kg kerb weight for the manual car and 1353kg for the DSG-equipped car — considerably less than the old Golf R32, or indeed the new Ford Focus RS. Combine those figures with the power output and the R turns in a 0-62mph time of 6.4 sec, faster than the R32. Fuel consumption has improved, too. The R returns 34.4mpg and emits 192g/km of CO2, a big leap forward from the R32. Removing four-wheel drive has helped to reduce the weight, but so has not fitting electric seats.

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Scirocco R

Is the Volkswagen Scirocco R more engaging than a very competitive array of hot hatch and small coupé rivals?

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The Scirocco R’s chassis has also been significantly upgraded. Lowered suspension, different dampers and new springs will help the Scirocco’s handling, along with a reworked version of Volkswagen’s Adaptive Chassis Control (ACC). And the GTI’s electronic XDS differential has been reworked to suit the R engine’s power and torque delivery.

The car’s exterior has new front and rear bumpers, with big air intakes at the front, new side sill covers and a new grille. At the back there’s a new roof spoiler and smoked light lenses.

The R goes on sale in September, with the first deliveries in October. Volkswagen isn’t revealing official prices until later this year, but expect the car to cost in the region of £25,000 – making it a direct competitor for the likes of the Focus RS.

Dan Stevens

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