VW Scirocco 2.0 TSI (2010) CAR long-term test

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Long-term test review – 10 May 2010

Had the editor’s VW Scirocco at the weekend and came away mightily impressed. It’s not a car I would buy – space is at a premium and that kiwi fruit green paint job and black wheels are too look-at-me – but if I were in the market for a two-door coupe, the Scirocco would certainly make it on to my shopping list.*

It’s just such an all-rounder. It carries off that Golf GTI-in-drag thing seamlessly. The 2.0-litre petrol four is cultured when you’re pootling yet serves up strong acceleration when you’re on it, almost to the point where you wonder who really needs the range-topping R version. And although it has its detractors, the DSG transmission is brilliant most of the time, those whipcrack gearchanges, wise auto mode and finger-prodding-good manual override all serving to remind us that the Volkswagen Group pioneered the road-car application of twin-clutch ’boxes. There’s very little shunt at low-speeds, the usual bugbear of such trannies. The brakes are over-servoed though, and very grabby until you adjust your right foot.

The richly talented drivetrain may dominate the driving experience, but the Scirocco is a fun device through your favourite sequence of corners too. The steering’s weighty and accurate, though as with most hatch-derived coupes hardly brimming with genuine feel, and the car corners flat and neutral. Keep the suspension in Comfort mode, though; Sport introduces a jarring ride that doesn’t seem worth the bother, with little tangible benefit to the handling which remains roll-free even at high speeds. The Scirocco is a car that can be driven absurdly fast even by average drivers and is great fun. About the only real gripe is poor traction in the wet, those 206lb ft from 1700-5200rpm troubling the front axle in the bottom two gears on damp roads.

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What of the Scirocco’s character? I know many CAR Onliners reckon it’s just a squashed Golf, and at the end of the day they’re right. But do we care? Not a jot. The Golf GTI is in Mk5 and Mk6 guise consistently one of our favourite hot hatchbacks on sale, and the lower-slung two-door ’Roc has a brilliant headstart in life with that hardware underskin. It’s all a bit corporate VWspeak – the cabin’s funereal and peppered with Golf spec – and I suspect that will be put some buyers off.

Those wanting genuine character (whatever that is), the sort of people who don’t follow the crowd, who put Alfa Romeo on their shopping list and deplore the Identikit platform sharing homogeneity that irons out differences in modern car ranges – may find the Scirocco a boring choice. The fact is though, that for 95% of buyers, it’s the best mainstream coupe on sale for £23k by a country mile. It’s borderline brilliant.

By Tim Pollard

* Then again, have you seen that secondhand Porsche Caymen now start at brand new Scirocco money?

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  28 April 2010

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First report – 28 April

Do not adjust your eyeballs: my new Volkswagen Scirocco GT is meant to look that vibrant. It’s ‘a nugget of purest green’, as Lord Percy optimistically described his alchemy experiment. Lord Blackadder’s response was sarcastic, and I’ve sensed the viper green metallic paint might not be to all my passenger’s tastes. Nor perhaps any of them.

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I reckon VW’s newish coupé is a bit of a sleeper (in fact, I’ve started Scirocco-watch, and in three weeks have only spotted four) and I want to give my all to promote it. That’s why I’ve opted for this £410 metallic shade, in honour of a 1978 Scirocco paintjob. You blend in with your surroundings much like a man dressed as a giant shrimp at a Southend United match. The first time I drove into Birchanger Green services, a shaven-headed bloke’s eyes tracked my path, which he concluded by mouthing ‘f**k me’. I don’t think it was a come-on.

Another cosmetic option ensures this Scirocco stands out – the matt black Monza II alloys. A dealer-fit option, they cost £800. How else have I embellished the three-door, which starts at £19,660 for a 138bhp 1.4-litre TSI? Upgrading to the 197bhp 2.0-litre TSI engine – shared with the old Golf GTI (now superseded; new Sciroccos come with the 207bhp version) – triggers the higher GT spec too. To serve you, my dear readers, I’ve also gambled £800 on the dual-clutch DSG transmission, with six speeds. Being a control freak, I’ve sacrificed the control and interactivity of the six-speed manual ’box with some trepidation. That drivetrain and trim combination means a £23,245 starting price.

GT spec has plenty of standard goodies: the key ones are dual-zone climate control, bigger alloys (subsequently ditched), tinted rear glass and a button-packed steering wheel. With that slit-like rearward view, I added a £340 rear parking sensor, then spent £70 on floormats and £885 on bi-xenon headlamps with washer function. The biggies? Touch-screen DVD nav with Dynaudio stereo upgrade for £1630, and black Vienna leather upholstery for £1605. All told, my Scirocco GT comes to a pricey £28,985.

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First impressions? That the pre-delivery inspection wasn’t up to much. The driver’s side window came with a slight chip, and the fascia had a small pockmark in the paint. Having done my time on a few VW group production lines, I’m surprised and disappointed that these blemishes slipped through the safety net.

It looks terrific though. Dissenters say the three-door Golf renders the Scirocco pointless, but I wouldn’t give that conservative hatch houseroom. The Scirocco looks more muscular, thanks to its lower roof, wedgy profile, chunky hips and mean face. It reeks of character, not conservatism like the Golf. VW boss Martin Winterkorn prides himself on the number of variants the group spins off a shared platform, and amen to that if it means customers keep benefiting from a choice of three-door hatches.

It’s a very prescient choice of long-termer. Like so many punters, I’m downsizing from a six-cylinder 3-series to a turbocharged four-cylinder hatch. We look forward to finding out if I’ve made a decision which will make me as green as the Scirocco itself.

By Phil McNamara



About Tim Pollard

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A tech enthusiast and content writer, has a knack for simplifying complex technical information. He enjoys researching and writing about the latest gadgets and technology trends. He has a degree in computer science and is experienced in creating content for tech blogs and websites.

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