The GT 2.0 TSI might well be the sweet spot in the latest Scirocco range. Jonathan Crouch reports
Ten Second Review
What more could you ask for? Volkswagen has given the Scirocco 2.0 TSI GT more power, lifting that peak figure to 220PS, and has improved fuel efficiency by 19 per cent. Prices remain the right side of reasonable and there have been subtle styling and equipment tweaks throughout.
We like to think of Volkswagen as a company that plays by some well-established rules, but every once in a while it does things that don't really go by the book. Take its Scirocco as an example. This has always been the more expressive, extreme coupe version of the Golf, but in recent years, the Golf has been the recipient of all the goodies, while the Scirocco has just had to rely on its looks to get it by. Look at the R models of both cars. The Golf is far more powerful and directs drive to all four wheels. The Scirocco has to make do with less power and it only goes to the front tyres. The product development script doesn't normally play out like that.
The latest Scirocco has been updated rather modestly because - let's be frank - it still looks brilliant. The 2.0-litre TSI engine is where you should begin your sampling of the range, because this engine is a peach. Drive one and you won't think the Scirocco's languishing in the shadow of the Golf.
Where the old 2.0-litre TSI engine was good for a punchy 210PS, this latest unit gets a modest boost up to 220PS. When fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox, it'll get to 62mph in 6.5 seconds and run onto 153mph which isn't hanging around. Go for the six-speed DSG transmission and the acceleration is quoted at the same figure but you lose a whole 1mph off the top end.
Otherwise things are much as before. The chassis remains unchanged and that'll be good news for those looking for a genuinely competent handler. No, the Scirocco has never been quite as entertaining as, say, a Renaultsport Megane at the absolute limit but the deal has always been that owners would sacrifice 10 per cent of outright handling ability for 50 per cent better quality and it's one that many are willing to make. It's quite a step in price up from this GT 220PS model to the full-on 280PS Scirocco R, so if you're looking for performance per pound in the Scirocco range, this isn't a bad place to start.
Design and Build
If it ain't broke, don't facelift it has seemed to be the mantra as far as the Scirocco goes and most onlookers wouldn't be able to spot the differences to the latest car unless they had two cars parked next to each other and a good amount of time. The revised front bumper features aerodynamic 'blades' in the outer section, like those of the Mk 7 Golf GTI. There are also integrated indicator lights, daytime running lights and fog lights. Splash out on the optional bi-xenon headlights, and you also get LED daytime running lights incorporated into the headlight pods. There's more lightwork at the back, where the Scirocco is updated to LED tail lights, while the bumper has been reshaped to appear lower and more purposeful. As on the Golf, the Volkswagen logo badge now acts as the tailgate release handle. The 'Talladega' alloy wheel, previously reserved for the Scirocco R, is now an option for the rest of the Scirocco line up.
Drop inside and you might well spot that the dashboard has been updated, with new-look dials and an auxiliary instrument cluster above the centre console, consisting of chronometer, charge pressure and oil temperature gauges - a tribute to the 1974 original. There's a reasonably wide boot aperture which opens up 292 litres of luggage space. Fold the split rear seats down and you've got 755 litres. The Scirocco features four, individual sculpted seats finished in a choice of either cloth or leather. The sports seats aren't just restricted to those up front - the contoured rear seats feature integrated headrests to offer plenty of support.
Market and Model
The choices here are fairly straightforward You either pay £26,135 for the Scirocco 2.0 TSI GT with a manual gearbox or you fork out £27,625 for a car with a DSG transmission. The twin-clutch DSG is a lovely thing but unless you're routinely using the car in stop/start traffic, it doesn't bring too many benefits. The added tactility of the manual transmission actually suits this car quite well.
Rivals? The Renaultsport Megane 265 starts at just under £26,000 and if you try the Scirocco and hanker after something that feels a bit more focused, this is the natural choice. The thing is, most Scirocco owners don't gravitate to the car for the keenest corner carver in the class. They want a coupe that looks good, feels well-built and is presentable. It's worth remembering that the very well-equipped and hugely powerful all-wheel drive Audi S3 is also on offer at around the £30,000 mark, and that is sure to be a tempter.
Cost of Ownership
It's always good when you seem to get something for nothing, and as well as adding around five per cent more power to the 2.0-litre TSI engine, Volkswagen has also somehow made it 19 per cent more fuel efficient. The 44.1mpg fuel economy figure from the DSG-equipped model is extremely good for a car of this type, helped by good aerodynamics, clever gearbox software and a standard stop/start system. The manual car does even better, returning 47.1mpg, which tots up to an almost £400 saving over a three-year ownership tenure.
The Scirocco's lookalike styling may well protect the residuals of existing owners, but will it put a dent in future resale values, given that 2016 model year cars will look so similar to 2008 examples? That remains to be seen, but on virtually every other measure the Scirocco GT stacks up well. Emissions are rated at 139g/km for the manual car and 148g/km for the DSG.
The truth is that even a 2008 model year Volkswagen Scirocco still looks agreeably contemporary and not a lot really needed doing. Some of the details have been tidied up and modernised, the 2.0-litre engine is both more economical and more powerful and the materials quality inside has been given a revision for the better. The Scirocco is still a really strong all-rounder.
This 2.0-litre car still isn't the sharpest drive in its class, but it's still a very entertaining steer and feels extremely solid. Such is the excellence of modern twin-clutch and automatic gearboxes, it's getting increasingly rare that we'll make a definitive choice for a car with a manual shift, but that's definitely where the smart money goes here. The manual car is cheaper, faster, more economical, more fun to drive and delivers lower emissions. Unless you can't stomach changing gear yourself, it's a bit of a no-brainer.