2014 Volkswagen Scirocco review

Volkswagen has given the Scirocco a fresher face, and improved the efficiency of its diesel and petrol engines to help it compete with coupe rivals such as the imminent new Audi TT

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The Volkswagen Scirocco has been crying out for some attention for quite a while. It was launched in 2009 and has largely been left to its own devices in the intervening five years, while BMW has launched the 2 Series, Seat the Leon SC and the all-new Audi TT - the Scirocco's main rival - goes on sale this autumn.

A quick glance at the exterior is enough to tell you that the visual changes are fairly minor, consisting of new headlights and LED tail lights, fresh bumpers, plus several new paint colours and different alloy wheel designs. Of more interest is the newly updated range of engines and a revised interior.

There are six engines to choose from – four petrols and two diesels - but they all come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. The entry-level model gets a revised version of the 1.4-litre TSI engine, which gets a slight power boost to 123bhp. 

A 178bhp 2.0-litre petrol replaces the more powerful 1.4-litre engine (which used to be our pick of the range), although VW says that it is more efficient than the old engine, with emissions as low as 139g/km and economy of up to 47.1mpg.

The excellent 217bhp 2.0-litre unit from the Golf GTI replaces the outgoing 207bhp unit, and brings with it a big jump in fuel efficiency, with a new combined figure of 47.1mpg. Emissions are also 139g/km. 

The range-topping R version has also been revised, getting a power boost from 261bhp up to 276bhp and a quicker 0-62mph time of 5.7sec (down from 6.5sec).

There are also two diesels. Both are 2.0-litre units, one with 148bhp and the other with 181bhp. Perhaps not surprisingly, they are the most efficient in the range, with CO2 emissions as low as 109g/km.

A DSG automatic gearbox is also offered on all models except the 1.4 TSI; when specified, the auto 'box increases emissions by around 10g/km, depending on which version you go for.

What's the 2014 Volkswagen Scirocco like to drive?

We drove the 182bhp 2.0-litre diesel and the 276bhp R, both with the six-speed manual gearbox. There's a hint of diesel dirge on start-up and at lower revs in town, but refinement is generally good, with no hints the Scirocco is showing its age.

Any engine drone at middling revs is masked by a pleasant rortiness that VW's boffins say is generated by an actuator in the firewall between the engine bay and the cabin - it's hard to believe that a four-cylinder diesel can emit such a thrilling sound without some assistance from the audio system.

The diesel engine is also a pleasant thing to rev to the 5250rpm redline - it pulls hard all the way round the dial, while the slick gearchange adds to the enjoyment. There's plenty of noise at maximum revs, mind, but we can just about forgive it that.

As you'd expect, the R's engine is smoother, and acceleration is nothing short of brutal, although the power is delivered in a progressive linear fashion. Floor the pedal and there's a pronounced turbo whoosh, while the crisp rasp of the twin exhausts remind you to shift up a gear before the rev counter hits the limiter.

Apart from the revised engines, the Scirocco's underpinnings are largely as before, which means good body control, direct, well-weighted steering, plenty of grip and predictable handling on twisty B-roads.

The R has an electronic differential and lower suspension (as before), which gives it supreme abilities when you're pressing on; the electronic stability system allows just enough playfulness before it applies its steadying hand, although it's perhaps not quite as planted or grippy as the latest Golf R - which gets the new chassis platform and four-wheel drive.

Both test cars were fitted with Dynamic Chassis Control, which comes as standard on the R but costs £810 on all other models, and allows the driver to choose the stiffness of the suspension. Our TDI, which wore 18-inch alloys, provided a cosseting ride in Comfort and Normal modes, but Sport was a little too bumpy, even on smooth German motorways.

The R, which comes with 19-inch wheels, dealt with broken road surfaces remarkably well in Comfort, but we imagine the other settings will be too firm for UK roads, and are best left for trackdays, still, it's nice to have the choice of settings.

What's the 2014 Volkswagen Scirocco like inside?

Much neater than before. The dashboard has been updated, with new-look recessed dials and a cluster of instruments above the centre console, consisting of stopwatch, turbo pressure and oil temperature gauges. The flat-bottomed steering wheel comes from the new Golf GTI.

There are four trim levels - Scirocco, GT, R-Line and R. The base model comes with a touch-screen infotainment system with DAB digital radio and iPod and USB connections, automatic lights and wipers, 17-inch alloy wheels, height-adjustable sports seats and a leather-covered steering wheel.

GT trim adds satellite-navigation, tinted windows, 18-inch alloys, front and rear parking sensors and front foglights. It also gets visual upgrades, including aluminium-look pedals and Alcantara upholstery.

R-Line adds 19-inch alloys restyled bumpers and side skirts, R-Line scuff plates, carbon-look dash inserts and heated, leather and electronically adjustable seats.

On top of all that, the R version gets a bespoke body kit, chrome-look door mirrors, bi-xenon headlights, 19-inch alloys, sports seats, lowered suspension and Dynamic Chassis Control.

Interior space remains the same, which means there's plenty of space up front, but getting into one of the two rear seats requires a degree of flexibility. Once there, though, there's a good kneeroom and plenty of space under the front seats to slide your feet. Rear headroom is quite tight, though.

There's enough room in the boot for half a dozen carrier bags, although the lip you need to heave them over is pretty high, and you'll need to flip down at least one of the 50:50 split/fold rear seats if you want to fit in your golf bag, or a buggy.

Should I buy one?

The lower-powered diesel will account for half of all Sciroccos sold in the UK, but it doesn't stack up too well against its newer coupe rivals. In particular the Seat Leon SC, which in FR trim is £1645 cheaper, faster, and cleaner than the VW.

The Scirocco R has always been a convincing package, it comes with plenty of kit, and is still thrilling to drive. However the Golf R is cheaper, faster still, and more practical, so unless you prefer the design of the Scirocco, it's hard to recommend over its more powerful hatchback sibling.

From what we've seen so far, the updated Scirocco is still a talented, desirable coupe, which is still in touch with the other cars in this class, but high prices make it hard to recommend over its VW siblings, let alone rivals such as the BMW 2 Series and Leon SC.

 

What Car? says...

 

Rivals:
BMW 2 Series
Seat Leon SC



Specifications

Engine size 1.4 TSI
Price from £20,455
Power 123bhp
Torque 149lb ft
0-62mph 9.3sec
Top speed 126mph
Fuel economy 52.3mpg
CO2 125g/km

Engine size 2.0 TSI
Price from £22,495
Power 178bhp
Torque 207lb ft
0-62mph 7.4sec
Top speed 141mph
Fuel economy 47.1mpg
CO2 139g/km

Engine size 2.0 TSI GT
Price from £25,845
Power 217bhp
Torque 258lb ft
0-62mph 6.5sec
Top speed 153mph
Fuel economy 47.1mpg
CO2 139g/km

Engine size 2.0 TSI R
Price from £32,295
Power 276bhp
Torque 258lb ft
0-62mph 5.7sec
Top speed 155mph (limited)
Fuel economy 35.3mpg
CO2 187g/km

Engine size 2.0 TDI
Price from £23,175
Power 148bhp
Torque 251lb ft
0-62mph 8.6sec
Top speed 134mph
Fuel economy 67.3mpg
CO2 109g/km

Engine size 2.0 TDI GT
Price from £26,025
Power 182bhp
Torque 251lb ft
0-62mph 7.5sec
Top speed 143mph
Fuel economy 64.2mpg
CO2 115g/km

 

 

 
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