£32,895 - £34,390 Price range
With the regular Scirocco attracting praise and positive remarks for its performance and handling largely across the board, an even faster and better-handling variant should be even better received, surely? Certainly the Scirocco R is a very accomplished sports coupe. It’s seriously quick, great to drive and can be used every day without any complaints.
However, only someone with an eagle eye could tell the difference between the R and the normal Scirocco. Indeed those flushed with cash but no desire for speed can specify their regular Scirocco to look even more like the R – it’s not one for the extroverts. It’s also markedly more expensive than the rest of its range, so is it still worth it?
One of the leading criticisms of the Scirocco is that the interior is distinctly Golf-like – in fact it’s shared with the Golf-based Eos convertible – and nowhere near as imaginative and stylish as the exterior. The bad news for the R is that this is carried right over and it’s marginally less forgivable. There’s a smattering of R badging, a few more trim options and some sports seats, but there’s very little to tell you that you’re not in some mid-range diesel Golf.
Of course it still touts all of the usual Volkswagen plus points – it’s well-made, the material quality can’t be questioned and everything is where you expect it to be. The driving position is good but, as with the standard Scirocco, visibility is patchy and there’s not a whole load of space in the pair of back seats for adults.
There’s no complaints about the Scirocco’s driving experience at all and the R just improves on it. Every R gets Volkswagen’s Dynamic Chassis Control as standard, which lets you alter the suspension, throttle response and steering. Put it in ‘Sport’ mode and you get sharp steering and loads of grip but put it in ‘Comfort’ mode and you get a relaxing motorway cruiser, nearly as comfy as the standard Scirocco.
You’ll need to get the setting right for the right moment though, as in Comfort mode the sheer power of the R can overwhelm.
It’s worth noting that the Scirocco R is the only Volkswagen R car to ever use front-wheel drive exclusively and this makes it a different driving experience than the 4WD Golf R. Don’t expect the Scirocco to burn all of its power away in the bends though – the standard XDS electronic locking differential keeps things neat and tidy.
Rather than sharing the Golf R‘s unit, the Scirocco R is fitted with the same turbocharged 2 litre engine you could find in the old Mk5 Volkswagen Golf GTI from 2005 (dubbed ‘EA113′, for VW engine code fans). Don’t let that put you off – it’s been well fettled and now makes 276hp. It doesn’t arrive in one huge lump either and, though markedly more potent than the top engine in the regular Scirocco, it delivers a constant surge towards the horizon.
The 0-60mph time is 5.7s on paper, dropping to 5.5s if you specify the more highly-rated DSG automatic. This also improves fuel economy by the same infinitessimal margin – 35.8mpg to 35.3mpg – but this tiny change moves the car an entire VED (road tax) band. The DSG car sits in band I at £220 a year, with the manual in band J at £260 a year, but first year road tax costs are a whopping £140 more. Still, the manual is £1,500 cheaper.
There’s no difference between the Scirocco and Scirocco R as far as Euro NCAP is concerned, and this means that the scores and relevant comments can be carried over. Luckily the Scirocco managed a good five-star rating with no concerns regarding occupant safety or available driver aids. The pedestrian safety score is middling though – the leading edges of the bonnet are quite friendly, but the bonnet itself is somewhat harsher for pedestrians unlucky enough to end up on it.
There are plenty of airbags, stability control and active head restraints. Unlike more basic Scirocco models, the R comes with dynamic chassis control and electronic differential lock as standard, which not only help the car make best use of its power but offer improved stability at the sort of handling limits one often encounters when avoiding a crash.
The spicy Scirocco comes with more equipment as standard, as befitting a range topping model, such as dual-zone climate control, heated leather seats, LED running lights and a leather steering wheel. It’s quite a jump in price from the normal car though – nearly £4,500 – so it’s a little tougher to justify over the rest of the range.
It also doesn’t have the benefit of being particularly cheaper than rivals and, blurring the line between a hot hatch and a sporty coupe, there’s a lot more of them. The effortlessly stylish Peugeot RCZ undercuts it, as does the record-setting Megane Renaultsport 275. Most importantly though, the Golf R is cheaper and this eliminates one of the Scirocco’s biggest strengths.
Residual values are good though, and servicing and parts costs should be broadly the same as the Golf. It’s in a higher insurance group though and the older engine is not as efficient as the newer Golf TSI option.
The more basic Scirocco is better to drive than the Golf, better looking, better value and only a hair less practical. The Scirocco R though loses a lot of ground to its stablemate and, though it retains the more original looks and is still as much fun to drive, it’s harder to recommend over the cheaper, faster and grippier Golf R.
If you want a well made, useable coupe that can be a comfortable cruiser or a rapid sports car with a touch of a button then the Scirocco R is very tough to beat. The Golf R does beat it but, of the two, the Scirocco is always going to be the car that you look back to as you walk away from it…