Even the entry-level 1.4-litre petrol Scirocco is pretty brisk; it pulls smoothly from low revs and doesn't feel out of its depth on faster roads. It does its best work between 2000 and 4000rpm, however, so it’s best to keep it within this range. The 217bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine comes from the Golf GTI, so it's not short of punch, while the 276bhp R's acceleration is nothing short of brutal. The R’s engine isn’t the most responsive at low revs, though, because the turbocharger can take some time to wake up.
The lower-powered diesel is capable of smooth and fast acceleration, while the higher-powered one feels more urgent still, especially at medium revs.
Volkswagen Scirocco ride comfort
A generally comfortable ride
Most versions come with non-adjustable suspension that provides a pretty comfortable ride on all but the scrappiest surfaces; even the R-line editions with their large wheels are firm yet perfectly acceptable. Consequently it’s no major chore to drive a Scirocco every day over long distances.
Dynamic Chassis Control, which allows you to alter the stiffness of the suspension (and the accelerator responsiveness and the weight of the steering), is standard on the Scirocco R and a pricey optional extra on the rest of the range. Comfort is good in Comfort and Normal modes, but Sport is a little too bumpy, although the GTS model that you have to opt for if you want that pokey 217bhp GTI engine feels quite firm.
Volkswagen Scirocco handling
Grippy and predictable, but some rivals are more agile
The Scirocco's handling is grippy and predictable, complemented by accurate steering and an electronic stability system that allows just enough playfulness before it applies its steadying hand. A Seat Leon SC feels more agile, but the Scirocco still handles pretty well.
The high-performance R version isn’t quite as compelling, partly because it is priced against tougher competition. It is safe and controllable, but feels cumbersome and heavy compared with an Audi TT. You can adjust the weight of the steering via the R’s standard Dynamic Chassis Control, but we’d avoid the Sport setting because it makes the steering too heavy.
Volkswagen Scirocco refinement
Smooth petrol engines; too much road noise
Coarse surfaces kick up some road noise, and there's a bit of wind noise at motorway speeds, but the Scirocco is far from wearing on a long journey.
The petrol engines are silky smooth, although the R version’s drones intrusively at motorway speeds, which can become tiring on longer drives. Despite the diesels being rougher and noisier than the petrols, they sound pleasingly rorty and settle down when you’re cruising.
The six-speed manual gearbox has a positive, precise action, and the optional six-speed DSG automatic ’box also changes gear smoothly.
The entry-level petrol engine performs well, delivering a tidy blend of decent performance and good economy. It runs out of puff past 4000rpm, however, so you’ll have to change gear a lot to keep up a decent pace. It’s available only with a six-speed manual gearbox, too.
2.0 TSI 180 BMT
This petrol engine is the prime choice if you’re not interested in one of the Scirocco’s sportier trim levels. It’s much faster than the 1.4 TSI and you don’t have to pay a huge efficiency premium for it. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, but a six-speed automatic ’box is also available.
2.0 TSI 220 BMT
If you want a hot Scirocco but don’t want to stretch to the R, this is the engine to pick. It comes from the Golf GTI and has plenty of power, yet it’s as economical as the TSI 180 version. The problem is that it’s only offered on GTS trim, which makes it more expensive than a Golf GTI three-door, or even a Seat Leon Cupra SC 290, so it’s very hard to justify. We’d save the money and go for the 2.0 TSI 180. It can be had with a manual or automatic gearbox.
2.0 TSI 280 BMT
You’ll find this engine only in the flagship Scirocco R. It’s very powerful and delivers impressive acceleration, but it can be a bit slow to respond at low revs. Go for the manual gearbox, because the automatic can be sluggish.
Our pick 2.0 TDI 150 BMT
This is the diesel engine we’d recommend. It offers decent punch, it’s economical and it has the lowest CO2 emissions in the range. You can have it with either a manual or automatic gearbox, but it’s worth noting that the automatic ’box does harm efficiency.
2.0 TDI 184 BMT
Opt for the more powerful diesel you’ll pay only a small efficiency penalty for a significant increase in performance. It’s a good choice if you want lots of punch and low fuel bills, but we don’t think it’s worth the extra it costs to buy over the TDI 150. Like that engine, though, it’s available with either a manual or automatic gearbox.