Volkswagen Scirocco R driven

* Storming performance * Pricey and understated * On sale now from £26,945...

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What Car? Staff
4 Nov 2009 0:1 | Last updated: 14 Jun 2018 0:3

Despite the Scirocco's 'hot' R badge, Volkswagen has created one of the most understated performance coupes you're likely to come across.

Okay, so it's not all standard-car niceties there are the bespoke alloys, swollen bumpers, subtle sill extensions, black gloss grille, and smoked rear light lenses to whet the appetite.

Inside, the mesh cloth and alcantara-trimmed sports seats, and 'electric blue' dials also underscore the R's understated demeanour.

Under-bonnet excess

Thankfully, there's a whole world of excess under the bonnet.

An uprated four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine with an industrial-sized turbocharger boosts power to 261bhp.

That's a whopping 54bhp more than the newly introduced 2.0-litre engine, and enough power to slash the magic 0-62mph dash to a mere 6.5 seconds and push up the top speed to a limited 155mph.

Acceleration is nothing short of brutal, although the power is delivered extremely smoothly.

Also, because the engine revs so rapidly, it's just as well that the pronounced whoosh of the turbo and the crisp rasp of the twin exhaust pipes remind you to shift up a gear before the rev counter rams into the limiter.

On the road

Considering the ballistic progress you'll be making by now, it's just as well that the front wheels have the aid of some trick electronics.

There are none of the four-wheel-drive shenanigans that will form part of the upcoming Golf GTI R's armoury here, just a stability control programme with a higher threshold before it cuts in, and a limited-slip differential to help the hot Scirocco lay down its power mid-corner.

Electronics also play a part in the R's suspension, in the guise of adaptive chassis control. This allows the driver to select comfort, normal and sports settings that alter the suspension, steering weighting, and accelerator responses.

Not that there's ever any need to fret. Even under extreme provocation the R steers sweetly, while the grip from the front tyres is unremitting as the suspension hunkers down and clamps those big alloys to the road.

Dynamics for all

Dropping down from twisty Welsh mountain roads onto smoother dual carriageways, and a quick flick into comfort mode revealed the R to be almost as comfortable and as quiet a cruiser as the standard car.

Yes, you'll need to stop a bit sooner to fill up, but with an average of 34.4mpg the R is hardly a gas-guzzler.

Equally, you won't pay through the nose if you can persuade your fleet manager to let you have an R as your company car. With a CO2 output of 192g/km, you'll pay tax on 26% of the rather hefty £26,945 pricetag.

Our verdict

Blistering understated sports coupe