It would be easy to describe the Scirocco R as a sharper version of the 2.0 GT TSI. But such a description would be to undersell what VW has achieved with this car, because it is also more polished.
In terms of sheer lateral grip and agility the regular Scirocco didn’t exactly under-impress; what we wanted more of was involvement – a greater sense of interaction with the car, but without losing the suppleness and comfort that makes the Scirocco such a good long-distance proposition. A tall order, perhaps, but as VW has shown, not one that is impossible to deliver.
Even pottering around at urban speeds, the R version feels more keyed into the road than the GT, with a greater keenness to turn, more front-end bite and a more delicate balance between the front and rear axles. Although it isn’t, the R feels like a lighter car than the GT, and more analogue in the way it responds.
Does it need a proper LSD? To completely win over the most focused hot hatch fans it probably does. Clever though the electronics are, they cannot match a mechanical diff’s ability to channel power to the road exiting tight corners, or imitate the way it allows a driver to use more throttle to pull the car into a bend. Try that in the Scirocco R and all you get is understeer.
Adaptive Chassis Control is standard on the R, meaning a choice of three modes (Comfort, Normal and Sport), each altering the dampers, steering map and throttle response.
In truth Normal is perfectly fine for most conditions and, as you would expect, offers the best trade-off in comfort and composure. There is a little pitter-patter over smaller bumps, but nothing you couldn’t live with.
Unusually for such a system, the Sport setting is not so extreme that it can’t be used on the road. Obviously there is some degradation in ride quality, but not to the point that it is uncomfortable. And yet we didn’t linger in Sport, partly because Normal offers more than enough control and precision, but also because Sport beefs up the steering weight to beyond the point that feels natural.
That said, this is one of the better electric steering systems, with reasonable feel and (in Normal) natural weighting over a broad spectrum of speeds.