The new-look Volkswagen Scirocco R takes a good thing and makes it better.
We don’t yet know the price of the 2015 Volkswagen Scirocco R, but we do know that it won’t be out of place slotting between the excellent Golf GTI and Golf R models.
The new-look, upgraded Scirocco R initially looked unlikely to be sold as part of the German brand’s local line-up, but VW Australia has since changed its mind, confirming the new model for a quarter one 2015 debut.
With the updated version comes new styling – the front-end sees a redesigned grille, larger lower air intakes, bi-xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights; the profile is distinguished by matte chrome door mirrors and enormous looking 19x8-inch ‘Cadiz’ alloy wheels; and the rear has new LED tail-lights, a gloss black diffuser and new swivelling tailgate handle (the previous car had no boot release button on the hatch).
There are also changes inside, such as a new R leather multifunction steering wheel, a dash-top instrument binnacle with oil temperature, stopwatch and boost gauge dials, piano black highlights and black and grey cloth/alcantara interior trim.
For the first time on the Scirocco R, buyers can also choose a new leather trim pack, which includes Vienna cow-hide upholstery as well as heated front seats and chrome interior highlights on the doors and dash.
The latter pack was fitted to our test vehicle, and it certainly lifts the cabin ambience over the standard cloth trim – though the leather may be a little slippery for back seat occupants in the twin bucket rear chairs, which can accommodate adults quite comfortably so long as they aren't overly long-limbed.
There wasn’t much wrong with the presentation of the previous Scirocco’s interior, and the new model provides even less to complain about. The seats are comfortable and very well bolstered, and while there’s no electronic seat adjustment, everything is well sorted ergonomically.
Cabin storage is good, with decent door pockets up front, usable central storage (including an auxiliary and an MDI input with USB connection in the armrest console) and a neat 6.5-inch touchscreen media system.
We tested the Bluetooth phone connectivity and got along well with it, and the menu system is simple enough to get your head around after just a few minutes. For those who like to take their favourite tracks with them, there’s a newly added 20-gigabyte hard drive for music.
Volkswagen has also added satellite navigation as standard as part of the update, as well as a new reverse-view camera and front parking sensors (which complement the existing model’s rear parking sensors).
Under the bonnet remains the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine, with the same 188kW of power and 330Nm of torque.
Those numbers may seem slighter than you’d expect, particularly given the 2015 model saw a power bump in Europe (to 206kW and 350Nm), but the locally-delivered Scirocco hasn’t been given the extra punch due to the mill being tuned to suit hot climates.
However, while peak power is still hit at 6000rpm, the new version’s peak torque hits slightly lower and lasts slightly longer than the previous car, with 330Nm available between 2400-5200rpm (previously 2500-5000rpm).
As was the case in the previous model, two transmissions are offered – a six-speed manual and a six-speed dual-clutch (DSG) automatic. Volkswagen has confirmed that neither sees any change in terms of claimed performance – the manual sprints from 0-100km/h in 6.2 seconds; the DSG in 6.0sec – but the latter has seen a drop in its claimed fuel consumption to 8.0 litres per 100 kilometres (was 8.2L/100km). The manual’s fuel use remains steady at 8.1L/100km.
Our test car was the DSG version, and while we would have liked to have seen the sporty three-door model get a power bump, the Scirocco R never feels short of punch.
It revs freely and willingly from 1500rpm, with a lovely raspy engine note accompanying its swift progress right through to redline but without any harshness. There’s the trademark DSG exhaust ‘puff’ on upshifts under full throttle, and you’ll quickly find yourself exceeding the speed limit unless you keep an eye on the digital speedo.
The gearbox is a quick-thinking and sharp-shifting operator, proving more than adept at shuffling through the cogs and ensuring the driver is in the right gear at the right time. The transmission’s sport mode helps in that regard, holding on and allowing the powerplant to rev hard. In D it errs on the side of economy, but kicks down to lower gears intuitively.
After 40 minutes of hard driving in the Scirocco R, any extra power would have seemed a bit of a waste – and that’s mainly because it is so good at getting its grunt to the ground.
Through a string of twists and a number of switchbacks, the Scirocco R never felt out of its depth, and nor did we ever feel as though we were out of our own depth while behind the wheel. This is an easy car to drive fast, such is the cornering grip available and the planted nature of its chassis.
The previous model featured the same XDL electronic differential lock that aims to eliminate as much understeer as possible by applying light braking to the inside wheel when you’re pushing hard, and as such the car tucks in to the tighter bends with precision and a certain dartiness courtesy of its 235/35 cross section tyres.
A further compliment must be made to the car’s suspension – namely the level of ride comfort offered by the Scirocco R’s standard adaptive chassis control system.
With three modes to choose from – sport, comfort and normal – the adjustable dampers dealt with big and small bumps on some poorly surfaced C-roads outside Melbourne with a level of compliance and comfort that would shame some sports cars four times the price.
Should the updated Scirocco R is priced where we think it will be – between the five-door Golf GTI ($41,990) and five-door Golf R ($51,990); likely slightly lower than where it previously sat (manual $47,490; DSG $50,990) – and considering its increased standard equipment levels, it should be something of a hit with buyers.
Stay tuned for our full review in the first quarter of 2015.