First Drive

2014 Volkswagen Scirocco review

The face-lifted Scirocco gets a new look and improved the efficiency to help it compete with coupe rivals such as the new Audi TT and already established Seat Leon SC.

Words ByRob Keenan

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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 Audi the all-new Audi TT - the Scirocco's main rival - which 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 was our pick of the range), but VW says that it's 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 182bhp. 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?

The entry-level 123bhp petrol pulls smoothly from around 1400rpm, so feels more than urgent enough in town. You'll find yourself reaching for the gear lever on steep hills or during fast overtaking, but generally it feels comfortable pulling in gear out of town, too.

As you'd expect, the 276bhp 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.

We also drove the 182bhp 2.0-litre diesel and the 148bhp diesel, again, both with a 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.

The lesser-powered diesel is, unsuprisingly, not as quick in terms of outright pace, but is capable of a smooth, fast getaway from traffic lights when required. This 148bhp engine is predicted to be the best-seller in the UK, due to its blend of decent performance, reasonable fuel economy and low CO2 emissions.

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 a pleasing sound, if rather artifical.

The diesel engine is also a pleasant thing to rev out 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.

Apart from the revised engines, the Scirocco's underpinnings are largely as before, which means good body control, accurate 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.

Our diesel and R Scirocco 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. Both provided a cosseting ride in Comfort and Normal modes, but Sport was a little too bumpy.

Ultimately, we'd reccomend adding DCC if possible, because our experience of the entry-level petrol and 2.0-litre diesel R line without it wasn't good. In its standard set-up the Scirocco struggles to settle over even moderately scrappy roads and imperfect motorway surfaces are a constant nuisance for those onboard.

What's the 2014 Volkswagen Scirocco like inside?

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 cheaper, faster, and cleaner than the VW both as a petrol or diesel.

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 desirable coupe, which is still in touch with the other cars in this class, but its 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...

BMW 2 Series
Seat Leon SC

Volkswagen Scirocco 1.4 TSI

Engine size 1.4-litre petrol

Price from £20,455

Power 123bhp

Torque 149lb ft

0-62mph 9.3sec

Top speed 126mph

Fuel economy 52.3mpg

CO2 125g/km

Volkswagen Scirocco 2.0 TSI

Engine size 2.0-litre petrol

Price from £22,495

Power 178bhp

Torque 207lb ft

0-62mph 7.4sec

Top speed 141mph

Fuel economy 47.1mpg

CO2 139g/km

Volkswagen Scirocco GT 2.0 TSI

Engine size 2.0-litre petrol

Price from £25,845

Power 217bhp

Torque 258lb ft

0-62mph 6.5sec

Top speed 153mph

Fuel economy 47.1mpg

CO2 139g/km

Volkswagen Scirocco R 2.0 TSI

Engine size 2.0-litre petrol

Price from £32,295

Power 276bhp

Torque 258lb ft

0-62mph 5.7sec

Top speed 155mph (limited)

Fuel economy 35.3mpg

CO2 187g/km

Volkswagen Scirocco 2.0 TDI

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

Price from £23,175

Power 148bhp

Torque 251lb ft

0-62mph 8.6sec

Top speed 134mph

Fuel economy 67.3mpg

CO2 109g/km

Volkswagen Scirocco GT 2.0 TDI

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

Price from £26,025

Power 182bhp

Torque 280lb ft

0-62mph 7.5sec

Top speed 143mph

Fuel economy 64.2mpg

CO2 115g/km