From £29,6878
Revised Scirocco R gets sharper looks and a hike in output, but its rivals are more engaging and deliver far greater driving appeal

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Scirocco R

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

16 July 2014

What is it?

The Volkswagen Scirocco celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, and gets a new style for its big birthday.

We say new, but the changes aren’t so big as to constitute some sort of mid-life crisis – it’s all rather more subtle than that. Even here in the range-topping R model you’d need to be a committed Volkswagen fan to spot the differences.

The head- and tail lights are changed (the rears now using LEDs), the bumpers reprofiled and the usual improvements in economy, emissions and performance are mooted.

The R’s power rises to 276bhp, some 15bhp more than previously, though that's still 20bhp down on the Golf R. The coupé also makes do with just front-wheel drive compared to its four-wheel driven hatchback relative.

Underneath the bonnet remains the old Scirocco R’s EA113 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine, the updates not going so far as to include the newer EA888 unit of the Golf R.

That accounts for some of the deficit in output. The modest increases made with the older unit are achieved by electronic tuning rather than any mechanical revisions.

Volkswagen will point at the Scirocco R's greater standard specification over its hatchback relation, with DCC (Dynamic Chassis Control), navigation and leather upholstery all standard, but the 5.5secs it takes to reach 62mph is bettered by the Golf’s 4.9secs.

The Golf offers more opportunity for fun given its fully switchable ESP system, while the Scirocco R’s is always working behind the scenes regardless of your chosen setting.

What's it like?

In isolation the Scirocco R remains an appealing, rapid choice, but Volkswagen’s updates take place in a market that now features several tempting alternatives such as the on-form Peugeot RCZ R, Toyota’s rear-driven GT86, Renaultsport’s ever faster Mégane and the BMW M235i.

Against that newer, more engaging collective the Scirocco struggles, even if the 2.0-litre turbocharged unit’s linear delivery allows any-gear, any-rev punch accompanied by a deep-chested sound that suggests something with a greater cylinder count than four is powering it.

That performance is best enjoyed with the manual transmission. The DSG is unquestionably quicker, but its eagerness to drop ratios in the search for revs makes for frenetic progress.

Only a handful of R buyers will opt for the manual, but it ups the fun - if not the convenience. The shift is not the crispest out there but it is accurate enough to be enjoyable and allows you to explore the 2.0-litre turbo’s impressive mid-range urgency.

The DSG removes a layer of involvement from a car that, while unquestionably fast, just doesn’t engage its driver like its best rivals.

The steering is quick and precise, if lacking in any real information at the wheel, though the 17-inch brakes are unfailing in their stopping power. There’s plenty of grip, good traction and the car, in Comfort mode at least, rides with real composure.

Should I buy one?

It's a technically impressive car, but the Scirocco R never really goads you into exploring what it’s capable of, which in fairness is a great deal. 

That’s always been something of an R characteristic though – its maturity appealing to some, but leaving others cold.

It’d take a committed Golf R driver to shake it, despite its lesser technical specification, though any of its other rivals will give their drivers a bigger grin.

Kyle Fortune

Volkswagen Scirocco R 2.0-litre TSI 280 PS DSG

Price £33,795; 0-62mph 5.5sec; Top speed 155mph; Economy 35.7mpg (combined); CO2 185g/km; Kerb weight 1450kg; Engine 4cyls, 1984cc, turbocharged petrol; Power 276bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 258lb ft between 2500-5000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd dual-clutch automatic

Join the debate

Comments
9

16 July 2014
And buy an A45 AMG instead. Why they only gave the Scirocco R FWD I do not know, would make more sense to make it 4WD like the Golf R. Seems a lazy facelift too, I think they should have stuck in the newer engine.

16 July 2014
Nice looking car the A45 but you'd spend £40k on it?! Why not just get an M135i and save 10k and have something that is better to drive or indeed get the Golf R which is 10k cheaper? I should think they've not gone too mad with the facelift as the cars been out for I think about 6 years and I'd imagine that although the design is still fresh, there will perhaps be a new model in maybe 2-3 years time. So they'll only do a mild refresh and I think the newer engine would only feature in the next Scirocco - they don't like to always give models midway (or more) through their lifecycle the very latest tech.

16 July 2014
£34k for a Golf, albeit in coupe form? This may be the performance version of the Scirocco, but Volkswagen are really having a laugh with that price. It's more than the equivalent, but slightly more powerful and 4WD equipped, S3 (hatches or saloons) which are from, supposedly, the VW Group's premium brand. And the Scirocco is based on a 12 year old platform with similar ageing mechanicals. The equivalent, but much superior Renault Megane and BMW 2 Series are around £7k and £4k cheaper respectively than this VW. You can get a Morgan 3 wheeler or Aerial Atom for less too. I wonder how much they'll try charging for the Golf R400?! Probably well north of £40k.

16 July 2014
Shame that the 'new' Scirocco with the 'reprofiled bumpers' gets the minimum 4 stars that Autoexpress gives a Volkswagen by default. By deduction it is no more than a 3-star car.

16 July 2014
I would have thought that the Scirroco would offer more fun than the Golf, as it is in essence, a sportier two door version of the 5 door hatchback. Yet here we have a car that is down on power (albiet 20bhp) and without the 4 wheel drive gubbins, and by all accounts not as enjoyable to drive (going by the review). I do like it however but it appears as if the Golf R may be the better car, but what do I know??

16 July 2014
0-62 in 5.5 seconds must be wrong. How can the SEAT Leon Cupra which is about 80kg lighter on the new MQB platform, with the same power all be it from the newer EA888 engine only do 0-62 in 5.7? Despite being slower to 62, the Leon Cupra SC offers a lot more than the Scirroco for a lot less. Why would anyone buy the ancient Scirroco for anything other than the fact it has a shiny VW badge?

17 July 2014
As I've said before, this car is out-of-date before its even on sale. The Golf R and M135i are far superior cars for less money. The price is stupid. I like the Scirocco but a new model is needed. This facelift has come too late as the competition will leave it in the dust.

rxl

17 July 2014
silly look! they put iron railings in front of it! LOL ! and the price tag...ouch!! i ratter buy a GT86 which bring me a a lot more fun, than this overrated "Golf"...

17 July 2014
To echo everyone else, the Golf R beats this hands down. It's cheaper, more powerful, more practical, more economical and it has 4WD. Why anyone would buy this Scirocco R is beyond me.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lexus LC500
    Car review
    20 October 2017
    Futuristic Lexus LC coupé mixes the latest technology with an old-school atmospheric V8
  • Maserati Levante S GranSport
    First Drive
    20 October 2017
    Get ready to trade in your diesels: Maserati’s luxury SUV finally gets the engine it’s always needed
  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK