What is it?
When Volkswagen first introduced the Scirocco in 2008, closely followed by the R version in 2009, it served to inject some real flair into the company's otherwise humdrum line-up at the time.
It was sharply styled, drove in a satisfying fashion and also offered practical advantages over some of the coupé alternatives of the time – namely four usable seats and a decent boot.
Time marches inexorably onwards, though, and new competitors – including the latest iteration of the Audi TT and the new BMW 2 Series – have prompted a mild refresh in order to renew some interest in Volkswagen's coupé.
It's true that the changes are minimal; you're probabaly looking at the pictures and thinking: "What changes?" – but they are there, and they do serve to sharpen the looks slightly. The headlights and tail-lights have been updated, the rears now being LED units, and both the front and rear bumpers have been restyled.
Revamped dials feature inside, too, along with a trio of dash-mounted ancillary gauges: a chronometer, a boost pressure gauge and an oil temperature gauge. Thery're neat touches, certainly adding a little interest.
The Scirocco R, tested here, has received these updates as well as a 15bhp hike in power output, meaning its turbocharged 2.0-litre engine now puts out 276bhp.
So, has enough been done to keep the VW Scirocco R competitive against its fresher and now more numerous rivals?
What's it like?
The new Scirocco R is competent but – despite the power and looks – quite dull. What's most notable is that the Scirocco feels leaden and unwilling compared with its rivals; its steering, although precise and relatively quick to act, is heavy and delivers little in the way of feedback.
Predictably, it just understeers the faster and harder you push – just think of what the front tyres are having to deal with – and it's quite resistant to any attempts at mid-corner adjustment. The result is a numb, uninteresting experience.
The turbocharged engine's responses aren't as keen as the more modern options, either. Stand on the the throttle and power takes time to build, sometimes arriving in a sufficient enough flurry to comprehensively unstick the front tyres. The dual-clutch automatic gearbox isn't quite as swift to shift and take up power as you might expect, either, but it's otherwise proficient.
Once you've got the VW going, however, it certainly motors along in a suitably swift fashion. Get the Scirocco off the line cleanly and it'll dispatch the 0-62mph sprint in a claimed 5.5sec – although our timing gear suggests 6.0sec is more likely in real-world conditions.
It also sounds more characterful than, say, the new Audi TT, with a pronounced burble from the exhaust at idle and a baritone note at higher speeds. That prominent exhaust note doesn't disappear at part throttle, though; this can be annoying when you've settled into a sensible motorway cruise.