The GTS badge returns to the Volkswagen Scirocco range, offering plenty of performance and panache for your pound. Jonathan Crouch reports
Ten Second Review
Stop us if you've heard of this one before. Yes, the GTS badge is back on another Scirocco. It might be getting a bit long in the tooth, but 220PS in a solidly reliable Volkswagen coupe with an added dose of attitude is still a formula that looks set to prove popular with British buyers.
Although we more readily associate the GTI badge with quick Volkswagen hatches and the R badge with really rapid ones, there's a bit of history between the Scirocco and the GTS nameplate. It first appeared way back in 1982, effectively being a coupe version of a Golf GTI. That car got a GTS stripe which ran all round the silhouette of the car just above the sill, some racy sport seats and a gear knob in golf ball design. Fast forward to 2013 and Volkswagen reprised the GTS theme, delivering a limited edition Scirocco with 18-inch Thunder alloys, racing stripes, a bodykit and GTS badges.
Well, the GTS is back again and the third time might just be the charm. The wraps came off the car at the 2015 Shanghai Motor Show and it still looks as good as ever. Yes, the chassis beneath the car might be a bit old now, but do buyers particularly care?
The last Scirocco GTS made 210PS, but this version gets a shot in the arm, lifting peak power to 220PS at 4500rpm. Torque is rated at 350Nm at 1500rpm, so this is a very tractable engine. We've seen it before on both the Golf GTI and the Scirocco GT, so it's a known quantity, feeling flexible and without a lot of turbo lag. When mated to the standard six-speed manual gearbox, it'll get to 62mph in 6.5 seconds and run onto 153mph, with the DSG gearbox knocking 1mph off the top speed.
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% of outright handling ability for 50% better quality and it's one that many are willing to make. The car rides on eighteen-inch wheels and, if we're honest, that's quite enough from a ride perspective. In our experience, upgrading to 19-inch alloys deteriorates the ride quite markedly.
Design and Build
The GTS gets 18-inch "Norwich" alloy wheels as standard, with the 19- inch "Lugano" alloy wheels available as an option. Some red brake callipers are fitted, as is the R-Line exterior package. This includes R-style bumpers at the front with integrated fog lamps and gloss black radiator and air inlet grilles, custom side sill extensions, an R-look roof spoiler and a rear diffuser. The wing mirror caps are black and, just like its predecessor the '82 Scirocco GTS, the new model can be ordered with a GTS decal for the body that features a pair of red stripes that run centrally from the bonnet over the roof and the boot. If the car is painted in Flash Red, the stripes are black. There are also some 3D GTS logos in the radiator grille and on the tailgate. Six colours are offered, Deep Black, Iridium Grey, Urano Grey, Pure White, Onyx White and Flash Red.
It's an orgy of black and red inside the GTS, with a black headliner and piano black for the dash inserts, the steering wheel lower spoke, the air vents and the door handles. This is complemented by red seams on the steering wheel, seats, seat belts, the handbrake gaiter, the gear shifter boot, the armrest and the floor mats. As with all Sciroccos, the GTS gets 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.
Market and Model
You'll need to allow a budget of just over £28,000 for Scirocco GTS ownership, with the usual £1,500 premium over the manual model if you want DSG auto transmission. How does that compare with key competitors? Well, that would very much depend on how you framed them. If you want well built, stylish coupe rivals, BMW's 228i M Sport retails at around £28,500 and is quite a bit quicker than the Volkswagen. Peugeot's RCZ makes an even more extrovert visual statement, and the 200PS version retails at around £200 more than the BMW. Should you want the rocketship Peugeot RCZ R - all 270PS of it - you'd need just over £32,000.
The GTS gets a stainless steel pedal set, GTS-monogrammed sports seats and Volkswagen's Modular infotainment matrix (MIB) screen. This includes the Composition Colour infotainment system, available for the first time in the Scirocco. Options include black "Vienna" leather upholstery with red seams, a panoramic tilt sunroof, bi-xenon headlights, a multifunction steering wheel and satellite navigation.
Cost of Ownership
It's always good when you seem to get something for nothing and as well as adding around 5% more power to the 2.0-litre TSI engine, Volkswagen has also somehow made it 19% 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 stacks up well. Emissions are rated at 139g/km for the manual car and 148g/km for the DSG.
We're here to present what we think is an objective view and the fact is that the underpinnings of the Scirocco are getting a bit old. Yet Volkswagen still wants to charge what we think is fairly premium pricing. So where does that leave this GTS model? That depends. If you're looking for a car with cutting edge dynamics, look elsewhere. The Scirocco is bettered by quite a few rivals in that regard. On the other hand, when it comes to sheer feel-good factor, where you can relax and enjoy the reliability and build quality of a car where virtually every part has enjoyed a tried and tested production cycle, the Scirocco takes some beating.
So yes, we can see why quite a few people would be drawn to the confident and stylish Scirocco GTS. The basic shape was launched in 2008 but still looks great today and the GTS additions, while merely cosmetic, give it a welcome dose of attitude. State of the art it isn't, but there aren't too many coupes at around thirty grand that get close to the Scirocco's all-round ability.