A subtle exterior facelift hides a more powerful and efficient 217bhp engine. Have the changes improved VW's popular coupe?

What is it?

This third-generation Scirocco got a mid-life facelift in 2014 to keep it fresh against rivals like the BMW 2 Series and Seat Leon SC.

The changes are subtle and include restyled front and rear bumpers, new headlights, LED rear lights and a revamped range of engines. This 2.0-litre TSI 220 engine replaces the previous TSI 210, with marginally more power but a big increase in torque, as well as significant gains in efficiency.

What's it like?

The new engine – codenamed EA888 – comes straight from the current Golf GTI. It has a new cylinder head with an integrated turbocharger and uses the engine’s coolant to lower the induction charge temperature.

This feature, along with engine stop-start technology and brake energy recuperation, helps account for the claimed 19% increase in fuel efficiency. Its claimed average combined fuel economy is 47mpg with CO2 emissions of 139g/km, or 44.1mpg and 148g/km as a DSG. 

However, performance is an equally important matter for many coupe buyers and the 220 impresses here, too. Although power is increased by just 10bhp, there’s now 51lb ft more torque than before, which is available from 1500rpm. Bearing in mind the claimed efficiency gain, that’s quite impressive.

What this means in the real world is a car that sprints to 62mph from rest in 6.5 seconds (0.4sec quicker than the old model). Judging by the sensations you feel whilst trying to match that number, that pace is bona fide.

Sadly, on the morning of our test Mother Nature had decided to lay a carpet of snow over Surrey, and although this did turn to slush as the day wore on, the roads were never in a position to offer much grip.

Handicapped by the absence of any fancy mechanical or electronic differential, the 220 R-Line demonstrated a preference for spinning its wheels from a standing start or when accelerating quickly out of slow corners. However, once grip was restored the R-Line pulled hard, with only a momentary lag before the boost gauge needle shot around to its two-bar maximum.

The engine is smooth, and the gearbox works well in either auto or manual modes, although it could be slightly faster on up-shifts. 

Modern electric power steering systems tend to be criticised for their absence of feel, but the Scirocco’s set-up performs well for a system of its type. There is a decent amount of feedback to let you know what the front wheels are up to and it’s relatively direct with good, progressive weighting.

The ride is decent, too; it’s certainly firm, as you would expect it to be, but never uncomfortable.

The exterior changes are quite subtle and it’s the same story inside. The cabin is largely as it was, which means it still offers a good driving position well placed controls – with the exception of VW’s habit of locating the door mirror control sideways on the door, making it less intuitive to use, especially when the interior door handle is so close.

All models now get a pod containing three dials, including the aforementioned boost gauge, which sits on top of the dashboard. It feels like a bit of an afterthought, but nevertheless, does jazz up the otherwise smart but functional look of the Scirocco’s interior. In the back it’s got two useable seats, which fold down to extend the 312-litre boot.

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R-Line trim gets you electrically operated leather sports front seats, with the R-Line logo embossed in the headrests, faux carbon trim, aluminium pedals and sat-nav with a 5in touchscreen.  

Outside the specification includes 19in alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, tinted glass, plus unique R-Line bumpers and side skirts.

Should I buy one?

The Scirocco’s looks have always won admirers, and the subtle changes maintain the status quo. If you’re after a practical coupe that’s inconspicuously handsome and well-equipped but aren’t worried about handling finesse, then it’s definitely one to consider.

However, in R-Line trim, even without the DSG 'box, it’s £28,195. With the DSG, it’s £29,695.

That puts it smack-bang into the territory occupied by premium contenders like the BMW 220 M Sport (£27,395) and the new Audi TT (£29,860).

These rivals may not match the Scirocco’s spec list, but both are more fun to drive while offering a more premium package. Also, the lighter, more powerful TT is quicker while the slightly slower 2 Series matches it for practicality.

Alternatively, a three-door Seat Leon Cupra offers even more bang for your buck. It’s coupe-like rather than the real deal, but it’s cheaper and more practical. 

Volkswagen Scirocco 2.0 TSI 220 R-Line DSG

Price: £28,195; Engine 4-cyl, inline, 1984cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power: 217bhp at 4500rpm; Torque: 258lb ft at 1500-4400rpm; Gearbox 6-spd DSG auto; Kerb weight 1394kg; Top speed 152mph; 0-60mph 6.5sec Economy: 44.1.mpg (combined) CO2/tax band 139g/km, 20%

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AddyT 5 February 2015

How much?

That's gotta be well specced Golf GTI money? Or to really put it into perspective - Golf R's can be found online for around 26.5k! Why pay more for this! Good car don't get me wrong but their prices on all the facelifted models are far too high when its an older design.
fadyady 5 February 2015

De ja vu

This engine with this very output sounds awfully familiar. Do the Volkswagen use it in many of their applications? I also wonder why is Volkswagen considering axing Scirocco if it really is "popular".
fadyady 5 February 2015

De ja vu

This engine with this very output sounds awfully familiar. Do the Volkswagen use it in many of their applications? I also wonder why is Volkswagen considering axing Scirocco if it really is "popular".