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Thursday 12th November 2009

Driven: Volkswagen Scirocco R

Riggers takes Wolfsburg's hottest Scirocco for a blast down some British B-roads


R. It's a letter that Volkswagen has been attaching to the bodywork of its sportiest offerings for some time, but up until now has only offered in conjunction with a two-digit number numbers and a hefty six-cylinder lump up front (think Golf R32 or Passat R36).

No longer. For VW's latest R offerings, the numbers have been dropped, as have two cylinders for the engines, leaving us with simply the Golf R and Scirocco R.

10mph? Not bleedin' likely... let's find a better road
10mph? Not bleedin' likely... let's find a better road

Both models use the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder EA113 motor from the old Mk5 Golf GTi rather than the latest EA888 motor from the current Golf GTi, but the Golf R gets 266bhp and four-wheel drive, while the Scirocco R must 'make do' with 261bhp and front-wheel drive. As a result the Golf R is the fastest-accelerating production VW ever, with a 0-62mph time of 5.5sec in DSG guise.

Deep front spoiler and DLRs mark out 'R' version
Deep front spoiler and DLRs mark out 'R' version
But it's the Scirocco R that we're interested in today. For now, this is the only full-production Scirocco R in the world (although more will be beginning to trundle off the production line as I write this), but despite this it feels like a fully finished, series-production car. It looks the part, too. The smoked rear light lenses, subtly chunkier front and rear bumpers, 18-inch alloys, roof spoiler, gloss-black finish on the grille, wing mirrors and bottom of the rear bumper may not exactly amount to an outrageous performance bodykit, but the overall effect gives the car undeniable presence without making it shout too loudly about its performance intent.

Inside, there is very little to tell the Scirocco R apart from the regular car, aside from a smattering of blink-and-you'll-miss-'em 'R' logos and some gloss-black trim. It's still a very pleasant place in which to spend your time though, and the optional ribbed leather seats (which remind me of Mk1 Golf GTi chairs) are particularly comfortable and supportive. I'd still want a few more bespoke bits and bobs if I was spending £4500 more than the cost of a standard 2.0 TSI GT, mind...

Twin pipes and smoked rear lights distinguish the rear
Twin pipes and smoked rear lights distinguish the rear
Despite the slight power and driven-wheel disadvantage compared with its Golf sibling, the Scirocco R doesn't feel short-changed when it comes to performance. In fact, VW's excellent XDS traction control system - which does a passable electronic impression of a mechanical limited-slip differential - makes you wonder whether there's any real worth in all that heavy all-wheel-drive gubbins.

The 0-62mph time of 5.8secs in the DSG-equipped version we tested is also more than quick enough - it trails the Golf R by a scant 0.3secs, and gives you a tenth of a second's worth of pub bragging rights against the much more powerful Ford Focus RS.

Talking of the Focus RS, that car bears interesting comparison with the Scirocco in several other ways. Especially since it's only fifty quid dearer that the £26,945 manual version of the Scirocco R (although DSG will cost you an extra £1300). It might only have 261bhp and 258lb ft to play with versus the Focus's 300bhp 324lb ft but, crucially, it spreads its peak torque between 1700rpm and 5000rpm, while the Focus gets maximum twist only between 2400rpm and 4500rpm. The result is, of course, that you can use more of the Scirocco's power, for more of the time.

Absence of four-wheel drive is no hindrance to handling
Absence of four-wheel drive is no hindrance to handling
The Scirocco R is a very different animal from the Focus RS on the road, however. As we've come to expect of 21st-century VWs - even one as performance-focused as this - driving the Scirocco R is not a raw, visceral experience in the way the He-Man Focus can be. Instead, It is refined, measured and controlled.

Don't confuse that with being dull, however, because the Scirocco R is anything but. You see, where the Focus RS, with its heavy five-cylinder lump, can occasionally feel a teensy bit ponderous when it comes to turning in to a corner or a rapid direction change, the Scirocco always feels agile and light on its toes.

Get it on a really tough B-road - the kind with long, bumpy straights, off-camber corners and poorly patched potholes - and the Scirocco R genuinely relishes the challenge. Flick the ACC adaptive dampers to 'normal' ('sport' is fine for smooth roads, but the ride gets fidgety on bumpy B-roads) and the MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear suspension set-up keeps the body well controlled over the harshest lumps and bumps. The combination of that super-flat torque curve and the quick-shifting twin-clutch gearbox (which, just as in most VW-group applications, makes a satisfying soft popping noise out of the exhaust during fast upchanges) allows you to cover ground between corners pretty much as rapidly as you could want, while the brakes do a decent job of hauling you back from the brink when you arrive at the next corner much faster than you were expecting.

Sleek looks save you £2k on equivalent Golf
Sleek looks save you £2k on equivalent Golf
As with almost every car on sale today bar a Lotus Elise or Exige, the steering isn't the most feelsome of things, though it is accurate and reasonably well weighted - but every other aspect of the Scirocco's dynamic performance genuinely borders on superb.

Of course, the real trick to the Scirocco R's performance is that, once you've had your fun and arrived at a motorway, you can put the DSG into 'auto' mode, switch the adaptive damping to 'comfort' and cruise home in a car that's almost hilariously undemanding to drive. Sure, lots of cars have adaptive damping settings, but few that I can think of (and certainly no hot hatches) can play the often mutually exclusive roles of back-road terrier and relaxing commuter-mobile quite so well. That really is quite a party trick.





 

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Author Discussion

MrTappets

Original Poster:

786 posts

71 months

[news] 
Thursday 12th November 2009 quote quote all
Very nice. I think i prefer it to the Golf and the Focus. But what colour is best?

Chr1sch

1,727 posts

73 months

[news] 
Thursday 12th November 2009 quote quote all
I read Autocar yesterday and Sutcliffe has put this ahead of the RS - a real suprise IMO

Well done VW, a properly fun, good looking and potent hot hatch!

Looking forward to the Golf now!

Fuzzy Wuzzy

606 posts

70 months

[news] 
Thursday 12th November 2009 quote quote all
I can't see the appeal in this bloated car, give me a South African Citi Golf 1.8iR instead.

Have to add, I am talking about the looks and not driving dynamics!

Edited by Fuzzy Wuzzy on Thursday 12th November 13:28

peterattheboro

850 posts

63 months

[news] 
Thursday 12th November 2009 quote quote all
Not keen on VW for dropping the V6.

However, they've obviously made one of the best hot hatches around. Can't fault them at all.

I think if you tally up all the optional extras then the Golf R and Scirocco R will be hitting around £34,000?

And I thought the Focus RS was expensive!

jamoor

7,274 posts

95 months

[news] 
Thursday 12th November 2009 quote quote all
Predictably Dull.
Advertisement

hornetrider

45,897 posts

85 months

[news] 
Thursday 12th November 2009 quote quote all
+ Nice car, more presence than Golf R (imo), quick

- Ridiculous price, chav wheels

Next!

Speedy300

76 posts

66 months

[news] 
Thursday 12th November 2009 quote quote all
Lovely looking car

Shame about those wheels...

hornetrider

45,897 posts

85 months

[news] 
Thursday 12th November 2009 quote quote all
Oh, has it also caught Daytime Chav Strip disease? Or are they normal LED sidelights?

Gridl0k

1,058 posts

63 months

[news] 
Thursday 12th November 2009 quote quote all
The wheels are like those on a Cupra R - not a Saxo "VTR".

I like them - like the old Hockenheims (iirc).

Still, prefer the though of cleaning my AMG Monos to these..

Edited by Gridl0k on Thursday 12th November 13:52

kambites

38,197 posts

101 months

[news] 
Thursday 12th November 2009 quote quote all
Interesting to see this compared so favourably to the RS given how much of a step up everyone said the RS was over the next best hot hatch when it was released.

It has to be a good thing from a looks point of view when all that most people can find to complain about is the design of the wheels (although they are pretty awful).


If I was after a modern hot hatch, this would definitely be at the top of my list of things to test.

Edited by kambites on Thursday 12th November 13:57

vz-r_dave

2,605 posts

98 months

[news] 
Thursday 12th November 2009 quote quote all
I cant afford one but if I had the choice i'd want a car with an engine note. For the price it would be the RS everytime.

The Sirocco, no matter what guise is always going to be a rep mobil imo, likewise with the golf.

kambites

38,197 posts

101 months

[news] 
Thursday 12th November 2009 quote quote all
vz-r_dave said:
The Sirocco, no matter what guise is always going to be a rep mobil imo, likewise with the golf.
rofl A Scirocco is a rep mobile and a Focus isn't?

jamoor

7,274 posts

95 months

[news] 
Thursday 12th November 2009 quote quote all
kambites said:
vz-r_dave said:
The Sirocco, no matter what guise is always going to be a rep mobil imo, likewise with the golf.
rofl A Scirocco is a rep mobile and a Focus isn't?
Did he say it wasn't?

OnTheOverrun

3,965 posts

57 months

[news] 
Thursday 12th November 2009 quote quote all
£4500 for a remap and wheels?

Is this an advertorial?

vz-r_dave

2,605 posts

98 months

[news] 
Thursday 12th November 2009 quote quote all
kambites said:
vz-r_dave said:
The Sirocco, no matter what guise is always going to be a rep mobil imo, likewise with the golf.
rofl A Scirocco is a rep mobile and a Focus isn't?
The difference between the RS and an TDCI is quite distinctive. Cant same the same for the Sirroco really.



kambites

38,197 posts

101 months

[news] 
Thursday 12th November 2009 quote quote all
jamoor said:
kambites said:
vz-r_dave said:
The Sirocco, no matter what guise is always going to be a rep mobil imo, likewise with the golf.
rofl A Scirocco is a rep mobile and a Focus isn't?
Did he say it wasn't?
Fair point. I guess it's fair to say they're both dull rep mobiles. wink

kambites

38,197 posts

101 months

[news] 
Thursday 12th November 2009 quote quote all
vz-r_dave said:
kambites said:
vz-r_dave said:
The Sirocco, no matter what guise is always going to be a rep mobil imo, likewise with the golf.
rofl A Scirocco is a rep mobile and a Focus isn't?
The difference between the RS and an TDCI is quite distinctive. Cant same the same for the Sirroco really.
And yet road tests are starting to say the R is a better car than the RS... that must mean that a Scirocco diesel is a hell of a lot better than a Focus diesel, surely. hehe

vz-r_dave

2,605 posts

98 months

[news] 
Thursday 12th November 2009 quote quote all
kambites said:
vz-r_dave said:
kambites said:
vz-r_dave said:
The Sirocco, no matter what guise is always going to be a rep mobil imo, likewise with the golf.
rofl A Scirocco is a rep mobile and a Focus isn't?
The difference between the RS and an TDCI is quite distinctive. Cant same the same for the Sirroco really.
And yet road tests are starting to say the R is a better car than the RS... that must mean that a Scirocco diesel is a hell of a lot better than a Focus diesel, surely. hehe
I am sorry but I am not sure what you are getting at? I am not debating what car is best here. The R may be much better but for me it is far to Dull for the R badge. Now if it where a V6 and AWD then that would be a different matter.

briSk

14,158 posts

106 months

[news] 
Thursday 12th November 2009 quote quote all
vz-r_dave said:
kambites said:
vz-r_dave said:
The Sirocco, no matter what guise is always going to be a rep mobil imo, likewise with the golf.
rofl A Scirocco is a rep mobile and a Focus isn't?
The difference between the RS and an TDCI is quite distinctive. Cant same the same for the Sirroco really.
get off with you.

fair enough there's not that much difference between a scirocco and a scirocco r but the scirocco itself is way different to a golf (although i question why the 3dr golf still exists in 20T guise..but that's an aside).

i am not an FRSmk2 hater - far from it but it only looks distinctive due to the sheer volume of stuff glued on to it. sontrast this with the mk1 RS which managed to be different yet without being so overtly ASBO (in looks).


kambites

38,197 posts

101 months

[news] 
Thursday 12th November 2009 quote quote all
vz-r_dave said:
I am sorry but I am not sure what you are getting at? I am not debating what car is best here. The R may be much better but for me it is far to Dull for the R badge. Now if it where a V6 and AWD then that would be a different matter.
Fair enough. To my mind if it was a 4wd V6 it would be a worse car in just about every way (noise being the one exception).
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