Subtle updates for the popular Volkswagen Scirocco in its fortieth year, but the smaller Golf could be a better bet

What is it?

Despite appearances this is not a Scirocco R, though you could be forgiven for believing it is given the R-Line specification.

The diesel engine note also gives it away, even if here it’s the same 181bhp 2.0-litre TDI unit that powers the Golf GTD. It heads the diesel line-up in the revised Scirocco range, the blink-and-you’ll-miss-them changes that make up the coupe's mid-life update.

Revisions include re-profiled headlights and LED rear lamps, while new bumpers contain aerodynamic blades in the outer section.

It’s all fairly subtle really. Inside, new instruments feature, while there’s an homage to the 1974 original in the shape of a central dash-top auxiliary cluster containing boost and oil temperature gauges, plus a chronometer - the red digital clock display within it looks every bit like it has come from the '70s. 

Other changes to the ‘new’ Scirocco focus on its powertrains. All offer improved performance allied to greater economy and lower emissions, while the previous 158bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine is replaced by a 177bhp 2.0-litre - Volkswagen bucking the current trend for downsized units with that one.

Trim revisions add more equipment across the range too, which is certain to please UK buyers, which are only second to China in Scirocco sales - and comfortably the biggest market in Europe. 

What's it like?

Very much like the old Scirocco, only here a touch more powerful, but not seeing any improvement in its 7.5-second 0-62mph time.

What is more notable is the 8.5mpg improvement in economy and corresponding 19g/km drop in CO2, the latter bringing it down a couple of tax bands to the benefit of your bank balance. Other than that, the smarter instrument binnacle features deeper cowls on the dials.

Some 75 per cent of Scirocco sales will be diesels, which is slightly at odds with the Scirocco’s coupé positioning, though the manual outsells the DSG by a ratio of around two to one, which is more likely because it shifts it down another tax band rather than allows any greater driver involvement. 

That’s despite the 181bhp TDI’s uncharacteristic keenness to rev beyond 3,500rpm, even if the best of its performance is delivered in the mid-range.

It’s quick, in response and on the road, though the DSG transmission gets a bit busy if you’re demanding with the accelerator. It’s best then to shift gears yourself if you want to enjoy that muscular mid-range, the 2.0-litre unit even managing to sound appealing given its choice of fuel.

The ride and handling remain entirely predictable, so there's decent grip, light and accurate steering and a ride that’s commendable given 19-inch alloy wheels - though the Scirocco isn’t exactly the last word in excitement from behind the wheel. 

Should I buy one?

Tricky one that, the Scirocco has always been a bit hatchback-like to really be considered a proper coupe, though R-Line specification here does add some real visual appeal.

The biggest problem is the existence of its cheaper Golf hatchback relation, which, with the same engine in the GTD, does everything the Scirocco does, with arguably a little bit more sparkle and more efficiently, too.

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Kyle Fortune

Volkswagen Scirocco R-Line 2.0-litre TDI 184 PS 6-speed DSG

Price £29,520 0-62mph 7.5sec Top speed 142mph Economy 58.9mpg (combined) Co2 125g/km Kerb weight 1418kg Engine 4cyls, 1968cc, turbocharged diesel Power 181bhp at 3500-4500rpm Torque 280lb ft at 1750-3250rpm Gearbox 6-spd dual-clutch automatic

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Andrew Lee 19 July 2014


To me the Scirocco still looks awkward (at best) and downright ugly (at worst). The front three-quarter angle is awful, with that projecting rear haunch. Somehow the prettiness of both the original and its reincarnation in the Corrado has been lost. Perhaps Giugiaro should style the next one (again), especially now he's VW's in-house 'name' designer?
fadyady 17 July 2014

Autistic coupe

The hard-to-spot styling changes aside, the question is why didn't the mighty Volkswagen use their much hyped MQB platform?
Scirocco has a loyal following but asking one to buy a "coupe" that trails the hatch in almost every area including weight, performance and handling - lacks imagination.