First Drive: Volkswagen Scirocco
Sector: Lower medium Price: £20,455–£33,795 Fuel: 35.3–67.3mpg CO2: 109–187g/km
Volkswagen was undergoing a transformation when it introduced the original Scirocco in 1974. A preview of the Mk1 Golf’s platform, its water-cooled front-mounted engine and front-wheel drive were a big departure from the Beetle-derived platforms used previously.
This wasn’t only true within its range. The Scirocco was unusual in a segment where the big-selling Ford Capri and Vauxhall Manta still used rear-wheel drive. But, by the time the nameplate re-joined the Volkswagen range in 2009, this had changed completely.
The Scirocco now competes against a plethora of hatchback-derived coupes, each with efficient diesel engines for company car drivers. It has to compete against traditional rivals such as the Astra GTC and Megane Coupe, but also with newcomers including the stylish Kia Pro_Cee’d and Leon SC, which has the newer Golf platform. Top-spec sporty B-segment crossovers, such as the MINI Paceman and Nissan Juke, are also viable threats.
Volkswagen has an established track record though. Globally, Britain is second only to China in terms of Scirocco volumes and it’s an important fleet car too. Business sales account for 50% of its UK sales, and this subtly refreshed version will be looking to continue that popularity.
It hasn’t changed much visually. The front bumper now looks like the Mk7 Golf GTI’s, while the back end features LED lighting and a creased tailgate which opens using the badge, rather than a concealed button.
Its new thick-rimmed steering wheel is shared with the Golf GTI, and the most obvious addition inside is a bank of three auxiliary gauges showing oil and turbo pressure, plus a lap timer. A touchscreen infotainment system is fitted across the range, and satellite navigation is added from the most popular GT version upwards.
So it’s still an easy car to live with. The boot holds a usable 312 litres and access is easy, the front seats are comfortable and the rear bench has plenty of leg room, though limited visibility through the narrow windows and minimal headroom make them feel cramped.
Engine upgrades are more significant, with petrol and diesel units upgraded to meet Euro 6 and efficiency improvements across the range. Petrol versions range from the 52.3mpg 1.4 TSI to the 277bhp Scirocco R and, while the latter is only 2% of fleet sales, the R-Line trim means its styling is available with tax-friendly engines.
Diesel options are taken from the Golf. The 2.0 TDI will be fitted to 82% of fleet Sciroccos, with most taking the 148bhp version, and around 20% opting up to the Golf GTD’ s 184bhp engine for £1,000 extra. The latter was offered on the launch – responsive across the rev range, light enough not to blunt agility, quiet except for the petrol-like exhaust note piped into the cabin and yet promising 64.2mpg and 115g/km.
The Scirocco might not be the unique choice it once was, but still looked sharp after five years. A more competitive set of engines and subtle upgrades to its styling should continue to make this a class benchmark.
Stylish, efficient and great to drive, this remains a desirable user-chooser option. But the cheaper and mechanically more modern Leon SC is also worth a look.