The Contemporary Scirocco
“Sick. It looks like a missile!” So emoted my youngest child when the Scirocco pulled up for the first time outside our house. I was, I admit, a little surprised. Because it seems to me that many aficionados of Volks world cast a somewhat condescending gaze on the new Scirocco. It’s as if the cognoscenti think that the only contemporary car from the Wolfsberg crew worth celebrating bears the badge GTi and has five seats.
But we think such talk is nonsense. We think, having spent a good amount of time with this beautifully styled, brilliantly priced four seater, that it is a great car. And in fact, we’d rather have one than a Golf GTi.
As anyone reading this will probably know, we here at Influx towers are fools for good automotive design. We think that if a car doesn’t turn you on just sitting there on the kerb, if it doesn’t suggest to you the sweep and camber of movement while it’s parked, then the designers of the car have failed you, and the car itself is actually a failure.
That is why, based on looks alone, sitting there an raked, hunkered and, even, slightly menacing, can be judged a success straight away. The windscreen really is rakish and curved; so that sitting in the cabin you are treated to a lovely panorama and a bonnet that fans out low and wide to your fore and flank.
The glass all round, with its long, long door windows flowing through to pinched rear three quarter planes, whisper of the exotic.. You’re swept quite low in the driving position, with ergonomically exact elbow supports on a functional little centre console box and perfectly placed door sills. You feel connected in the cockpit straight away; a factor which, in our experience, usually compensates for any fall-short in performance a car might have.
Look closely at the exterior design and there’s a lot to notice. There’s that long, low, flat roof; there are the aerodynamic bulges that smooth the line of the hinges of the hatch. The heavily louvered grill, the raked lamps and the thinly jutting scoop of the chin lend a distinctly contemporary aspect to the car. There’s something rakish about the whole package which for us makes the Golf look a little old-worldy. On this press car there’s the tight turbine style alloys, an attractive coffee-coloured leather interior and a great ICE and Nav system. This is a desireable car and a pleasure to have around you.
This was a 2.0 Litre TSI GT version. This means it come with a little under 210 horsepower and will cost less than a basic Golf GTi. This fact has been mulled over time and again by the motoring press since it launched in 2008, but it’s still amazing. We suppose the even crisper dynamics would be a factor in any decision to go with a Golf GTi but so of course, would be the kudos of the brand-within-the-brand.
The marketing department of VW has made a big deal about the Golf’s benchmark status within popular car culture, that a heavy value has been put on it. But, we have to admit, that having recently driven a version of both cars the Scirocco wins on almost every count.
We’re not sure whether the Scirocco is longer than the Golf, but in hard cornering there’s a positive, manageable feel to the former that suggests as much. The Scirocco’s chassis feels stiff enough to handle the brio of a spirited drive, yet allows you to pootle economically and adjust the ride mode to suit rural lanes and urban potholes and speed bumps very nicely.
The mid range womp of the Turbo is pleasing, and despite the slight bog at lower revs, we think that the torqueyness through the centre of the gearbox compensates. That ergonomic simplicity we mentioned earlier also makes it feel like a great place to shimmy and dive and duck through the twists, and in a cursory hack over the Mendips and into the Eppynt range, we had a blast. For us there’s something about the design that is so much more pleasingly contemporary than the Golf GTi: it feels as if there is no compromise at all, and the Scirocco’s lower, sleeker feel makes it feel as if it slices through the air much better than the Golf too. That said, the drag coefficient of the GTi is slightly better, for some reason.
For us, the Scirocco is better fun than the Golf. Comparisons within a single manufacturers’ range may be particularly odious, but it’s a comparison that’s difficult to avoid. The Scirocco may have only four seats and it might be difficult to fit a bike in the back, but it’s a blast to drive, the fuel economy is great and the dynamic styling puts it out in front of most other cars in its bracket. Including its noble cousin.
It might not be truly missile-like, but we’d rather ride in this than on an Exocet…
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