It’s been an interesting weekend because I managed to get my hands on the keys of the new entry-level £18,395 VW Scirocco 1.4TSI

I can still clearly remember driving a glorious last-of-line Corrado
VR6 just before production was halted. So a proper taste of the new
‘Golf coupe’ was an enticing prospect.

When I parked it along side the missus’s leased ‘08 Focus, she said
‘isn’t it small’. For once, I couldn’t disagree. VW’s stylists (when
they’re not brawling) have really pulled the skin tight around the Golf
platform.

The narrowness of the body is reflected in the wide-tracked wheels and
the way the body slopes inwards from the wheel arches, which – combined
with the low roof – makes the Scirocco appealingly compact and taut.

It’s a surprise to get nearly 160bhp out of a turbocharged 1.4-litre
engine, but as long as you keep the engine reasonably on song (the
six-speed ‘box is a must with a small capacity engine), this car has a
gratifying amount of pace. And don’t rule out 42mpg+ on a motorway run.

While driving it late on Friday evening, I took a flying exit from the
westbound M25 onto the M23 and there was a combination of grip and
enthusiasm about the Scirocco that reminded me of the BMW Mini.

Indeed, the more time I spent in the VW, the more it felt like just the
sort of car to upgrade from, say, the similarly-powered Mini Cooper S.

There’s more space in the VW’s well equipped and tightly built cockpit.
But crucially, the Scirocco has a decent boot and perhaps a tad more
rear-seat space.

I spent too long on Saturday afternoon in central London, traffic
jamming around the queues caused by a demonstration, but I also got to
grips with Scirocco’s genuine nip-and-tuck abilities.

There are a couple of downsides. It suffers from tyre roar on the
motorway and it could do with a dose of the passive-steer that was so
effective in the Corrado. Without it, the Scirocco falls short of
Mini’s sheer electricity.

But I could quite imagine living with the VW as brisk go-anywhere,
do-anything car. It’s more practical and rather cheaper than an Audi
TT, and gives little away as a driver’s car. Think of it as a
combination of budget TT and more practical Mini Cooper S.

I found the impressive Scirocco a smaller car than expected and
equipped with a smaller engine than I would have imagined having decent
performance.

In the enthusiast car market, getting smaller could be the next big thing.