Facelifted Scirocco is handsome and practical, although its appeal is beginning to fade in the face of more advanced competition

What is it?

Volkswagen's facelifted Scirocco caused quite a stir when it was unveiled at the Geneva motor show last year. With revised styling, new four-cylinder petrol engines and improved interior fittings, it seemed VW had done more than enough to keep its six-year-old coupé relevant against increasingly strong competition.

We've already tested various versions of the updated coupé, including the range-topping Scirocco R and the new 217bhp 2.0 TSI , but this is our first chance to try a version equipped with VW's 2.0 TDI engine. The car tested here is the higher-powered option, with 181bhp.

In R-Line specification and with the 19in alloys and metallic paint of our test car, the latest Scirocco does cut an impressive figure. The reprofiled front bumper and grille give the VW a sporty-looking front end, while reworked light clusters and twin tailpipes at the rear make this seem more hot hatchback than semi-practical coupé. 

Inside, VW has added a new three-dial cluster to the centre of the dashboard, with readouts for oil temperature, tubocharger pressure and a stopwatch. It's an homage to the 1974 original and adds some sporting flair to the interior. R-Line spec also means the Scirocco is fairly well kitted out, with leather sports seats, dual-zone climate control and R-Line badging on the trim.

This model costs £28,375, which places the Scirocco firmly within reach of the BMW 220d M Sport and new Audi TT diesel in terms of price. Additional extras on our test car, though, including an upgraded stereo and infotainment system, electronic differential, sporty alloy wheels and VW's Dynamic Chassis Control system, takes the total price of our test car to £32,025.

What's it like?

It's certainly an improvement on the old Scirocco, that's for sure. The engine here is a staple 2.0-litre diesel from within the VW Group, and it develops 181bhp and 280lb ft of torque. The car isn't properly quick like a Scirocco R, but it's still good for a 0-62mph time of 7.5sec.

The optional electronic differential allows the driver to deploy the engine's torque-laden output without the car becoming too unsettled through corners. The power delivery is smooth and performance generally impressive, although the power band is relatively narrow; there isn't much point in pushing the engine beyond 4000rpm. 

The real trick with this engine, though, is with its fuel economy. Volkswagen says it's capable of returning an average of 64.2mpg, with CO2 emissions of 115g/km, and considering the pseudo-sporting nature of this coupé, that's quite an accomplishment.

Crucially, the easy-to-live-with traits we loved so much about the older Scirocco remain with the facelifted version. It's quiet and refined at motorway speeds, and while the ride is firm, the Scirocco always feels planted. The steering is nicely weighted and mildly communicative, making for a more engaging experience.

The interior is well laid out, with all major controls falling close to hand. It's also comfortable, with the seats providing enough support for spirited driving on a twisty road.

Should I buy one?

The Scirocco is a practical, well equipped and stylish coupé, with potentially outstanding fuel economy and enough performance punch to excite in short bursts.

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However, it's hard to ignore the fact that both the Audi TT 2.0 TDI and the BMW 220d M Sport offer an even more engaging driving experience for similar money.

Volkswagen Scirocco 2.0 TDI 184 R-Line

Price £28,375; Engine 4 cyls, 1968cc, turbodiesel; Power 181bhp at 3500-4000rpm; Torque 280lb ft at 1750-3250rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1395kg; Top speed 143mph; 0-62mph 7.5sec; Economy 64.2mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 115g/km, 19% 

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