We're yet to drive the most basic Scirocco, but although the next engine up, a 158bhp 1.4 petrol engine with both a turbocharger and a supercharger, gives the Scirocco real spice. The 197bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine is quicker still, and although the 2.0-litre diesel engines aren’t as smooth as either, they can't be faulted for outright pace. The R is super-quick.
The Scirocco's handling is safe, grippy and predictable, complemented by plenty of steering feel and an electronic stability system that allows just enough playfulness before it applies its steadying hand. The ride is comfortable, too. Adaptive Chassis Control comes as standard on GT trim and upwards, and it allows the driver to choose the stiffness of the suspension, the weighting of the steering and the speed of the throttle responses.
Flat-out blasts only serve to confirm the Scirocco's excellent high-speed stability and negligible wind noise. The six-speed manual gearbox has a positive, precise action and the DSG semi-auto is smooth, too. The petrol engines are silky-smooth, but the diesel is rougher and noisier.
The Scirocco is well-priced, and it will hold its value very well. Fuel consumption will suffer if you use its performance to the maximum, but take it easy and the 1.4 TSI 160’s 42.8mpg looks reasonable. Even the 2.0 TSI will return 38.2mpg, while the Bluemotion model gives the best economy, averaging more than 60mpg.
The Scirocco’s attention to detail is excellent: plip the remote central-locking and the frameless windows drop a couple of centimetres to prevent them snagging when you open the doors. Solid fixtures and fittings dominate the interior, and according to owners in the 2012 JD Power survey, the car's quality and reliability are very good.
The Scirocco certainly doesn't skimp on safety equipment. Front-, side- and curtain airbags, large-diameter brakes and electronic stability control are standard. There are also active front head restraints to minimise whiplash injuries. Deadlocks and an alarm are fitted to deter thieves.
Triangular door handles are a neat stylistic touch, and a touch-screen control panel for the infotainment system is complemented by simple rotary dials for the heating and ventilation systems. The door panel inserts and sports seats are finished in a classy, meshed weave, and there's a generous range of adjustment for the chunky, leather-covered, flat-bottomed steering wheel.
Up front, there's plenty of space, but getting into the back requires a degree of flexibility and caution to avoid banging your head. Once seated, there's a good kneeroom and plenty of space under the front seats to slide your feet. That plunging roofline, though, means headroom is tight. There's enough room in the boot for half-a-dozen carrier bags, but 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.
The entry-level Scirocco comes with mightily impressive standard kit, including alloys, air-con, automatic lights and wipers, electric windows and an infotainment system that incorporates Bluetooth, DAB radio and sat-nav. GT trim adds heated leather seats and climate control, while R-Line trim adds sportier styling. The R does, too, along with a sportier suspension.
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The VW Scirocco 1.4 TSI 160 is almost the cheapest Scirocco, but it's a great option – well specced and still offering the engaging dynamics that makes the car so good to drive. All it lacks is the outright pace and residuals of the bigger models.