What is it?
This is Volkswagen’s hardcore Scirocco R, the most potent variant yet of the firm’s Golf-based three-door coupe. Equipped with a tuned version of the old EA113 engine from the previous-gen Golf GTI and current Audi S3, the Scirocco R puts 261bhp and 258lb ft through its front wheels.
To cope with this extra grunt, the Scirocco gets XDS, VW’s electronic differential system, and Adaptive Chassis Control, which allows the driver to choose from normal, comfort and sport modes for the suspension, steering and accelerator response.
To give you an idea of where VW is pitching this car, the ACC’s normal setting on the R is roughly where sport is on a regular Scirocco; sport goes one step further on the new model.
You also get natty 18in wheels (19s are optional), larger brake discs and gloss black callipers, smoked rear light lenses, a rear diffuser, new side skirts and subtle interior tweaks including piano black finish on the fascia, new sports seats and a touchscreen stereo.
All of this performance and kit will cost you, however; prices will start at £26,945 for manual models, putting the Scirocco R on a par with its most obvious rival, the Ford Focus RS. And if you want a DSG-equipped machine, as tested here, you’ll need to add £1300 to that bill. The Scirocco still slots in beneath the forthcoming Golf R in VW’s performance line-up, mind you; that four-wheel-drive monster will nudge £29k before options.
What’s it like?
For starters, rapid. Keeping the Scirocco R front-drive has kept weight in check, and there’s no denying that power figure, so this is a car that feels entirely at home in the company of mega-hatches like the Focus and the old Megane R26.
They both utilise mechanical LSDs, of course, and they probably have a teeny bit more ability when it comes to clawing their way out of corners – but that’s not to say the Scirocco is found wanting in this area. Indeed, the latest, tweaked XDS system does an admirable job.
What really impressed was the Scirocco’s composure, though; our car was sitting on optional 19in wheels, but while 18-inchers were on standby, we never felt the need to fit them, even across bumpy Welsh back roads. Body control is excellent, and while the steering could be a teeny bit more communicative, it is direct and hardly devoid of feedback.
The VW’s four-pot engine is a logical extension of everything that made the previous-gen Golf GTI great, meanwhile; it’s fabulously linear in power delivery yet keen to rev out (to the point where it doesn’t really feel turbocharged). No, it’s not the best-sounding motor on the planet, but the DSG transmission does add a pleasing anti-lag rasp on upshifts.
Should I buy one?
If you’re in the market for a good-looking, agile, genuinely rapid hot hatchback that will be easy to live with and hold its value, then yes.
The Scirocco R is an impressively good match for the Focus RS across B-roads, where its more pliable set-up compensates for the Ford’s mechanical limited-slip differential.
In simple terms, you won’t be noticeably slower anywhere in the VW, and you’ll be considerably more comfortable during everyday mileage. The interior feels far more premium than the Focus’s, too – enough to make the two cars’ similar pricing extremely uncomfortable for the Ford.