The Golf GTI embodies the ethos of a grown-up hot hatch as it offers practicality, comfort and speed in equal measures. This explains why more than half of the current local Golf sales are GTIs. Two ingredients are missing from the winning formula though: style and individuality. Do you really want to be just another GTI driver out on the roads? This is where the Scirocco offers niche appeal.
Yes, it is old but…
The Scirocco is actually based on the sixth edition of the Golf and not the current seventh generation. CAR has tested a very similar Scirocco R back in 2011 and it still has the same 188 kW and 350 N.m outputs from the EA113 2,0-litre turbopetrol engine. This engine is different to the EA888 2,0-litre turbopetrol engine powering the current Golf GTI Clubsport and Golf R, which has slightly higher outputs.
At least it still outruns the standard GTI (that has only 162 kW) and looks a whole lot more exciting (even when it is parked), too. Volkswagen claims a zero to 100 km/h time of only 5,8 seconds and limits top speed to 250 km/h.
The reason the Scirocco range still appears fresh is because of a clever facelift last year. In R spec, the bumpers and rear diffuser are changed, bi-xenon headlamps with daytime running lamps added and new LED rear lamp clusters fitted. A set of 19-inch “Cadiz” wheels complete the updated appearance. From the outside, the low slung body with wide track appears both stylish and athletic.
The interior received an updated instrument cluster (with blue needles and backlighting), a current Golf-like touchscreen infotainment system and sport seats). R logos scattered around the cabin and blue stitching on the steering wheel remind the driver that they are piloting the range-topping Scirocco. If you manage to pull your eyes from the road flashing by for a split second, you can view oil temperature, a chronometer and boost gauge located in a new pod mounted centrally on the dashboard.
The added style does limit practicality. The roof is low and is close to the scalps of taller drivers, while rear passenger space is compromised (and difficult to access) and only really suited to children. Then there are those long doors that hamper ingress and egress, especially in a tight car park. At least the boot is quite spacious at 264 dm3. If any of the aforementioned issues bother you then you should rather place an order for the Golf GTI….
Our test unit was fitted with the optional adaptive chassis control that alters the damper setting in three stages: Comfort, Normal and Sport. Even in Comfort mode, the ride is quite stiff (although the damping is good) and there is no reason to opt for Normal or Sport if the road is not billiard-table smooth. The stiff suspension in Sport mode combined with the rigid body can be a handful when travelling over a bumpy road section at speed.
Because of the stiff suspension set-up, lower centre of gravity and punchy engine, the Scirocco feels much more engaging to drive than a standard Golf GTI. It has very little body lean and the wide track and grippy tyres provide excellent turn-in characteristics. In proper hot-hatch fashion, the rear tends to go light upon turn-in when going for it, which sometimes requires a dab of counter-steering to get the rear to settle.
Grip levels are high but the absence of a mechanical limited slip differential does limit the amount of power that can be transferred to the road when exiting tight turns. The XDS system that mimics a limited slip diff employing the ESC system does prevent excessive wheel spin at the inside wheel, but fails to provide the ultimate forward motion. The dual clutch automatic (DSG) transmission is a joy to use with quick and efficient gearshifts when needed.
The claimed 8,0 L/100 km is slightly optimistic as even driving it in the most leisurely fashion returned 10,0 L/100 km, according to the on-board computer. Driving it as intended, the read-out quickly jumped as high as 20 L/100 km…
The styling alone is enough to lure quite a number of buyers away from the obvious Golf GTI and derivatives purchase. Those people will find that the Scirocco in R specification is not only a good looking machine, but quite a capable performer, too. The only concern is the pricing and practicality constraints. And if you have read this far, then the practicality shortcomings should not be a problem at all…
Engine:2,0-litre, inline four, turbocharged petrol
Power:188 kW at 6 000 r/min
Torque:350 N.m at 2 500 – 5 000 r/min
0-100 km/h:5,8 secs
Top Speed:250 km/h
Fuel Consumption:8,0 L/100 km
Transmission:6-spd dual clutch automatic
Maintenance Plan:5 year/90 000 km