Volkswagen Scirocco: driven

* Sexy and sporty diesel? * Sharp looks and handling to match * On sale now from £19,815...

Volkswagen Scirocco: driven

It's a tough one. You need a new car and know you should really buy something sensible and cheap to run. A diesel hatchback should do the trick. Thing is, you can't help wanting something sexy and sporty. Hmmm.

Before you start pondering, VW's new diesel Scirocco might be the answer. You'll get all the curves and the superb driving manners of one of the best coupes around, without the hefty fuel and tax bills of a thirsty petrol engine.

Everyone's happy?

Problem solved? Maybe not. Yes, it has the looks and should help keep running costs in check but didn't you want something sporty? Unlike the diesel Audi TT, the Scirocco only gets the lower-powered version of VW's 2.0-litre diesel engine, which means performance is more family hatchback than sporty coupe.

The same goes for the engine note. Imagine Keira Knightley with the voice like that bloke who does the film trailers. There's nothing wrong with either, but together? No.

On the bright side?

Okay, so isn't all that bad. Once warmed up, the engine is pretty refined for a diesel and 138bhp is more than enough poke for everyday driving, but the fact remains that the 1.4 TSI offers more oomph and better refinement for less money.

Automatic buyers have another reason to shun the diesel. It gets VW's old six-speed DSG gearbox (£1300), so it's thirstier and pollutes more than the manual car. The 1.4 TSI, on the other hand, has the new seven-speed version (still £1300), which actually improves fuel economy and cuts CO2 output.

The diesel will probably work out cheaper in the long run, though either way. Yes, it costs a £700 more to buy, but you'll save that (and more) on costs like fuel, car tax and depreciation if you keep the car for several years.

The sensible choice, then? Probably, but then if you were Mr or Mrs Prudent you'd have already bought a Golf.

Our verdict:

The sensible choice, but lacks the punch many coupe buyers will want.

Volkswagen SciroccoPrice: From £19,815
On sale: Now
You'll like: Sharp looks; fine handling; strong residuals
You won't: Un-coupe like performance; tight rear seats