The Scirocco will be an important range ext-ension for Volkswagen. It’s the brand’s first coupé since it killed off the fabulous Corrado in 1996.
Timing the Scirocco’s launch to coincide with an economic downturn is a little unfortunate, but Volkswagen had 11,000 potential customers register for online updates pre-launch, and it still expects to achieve 9,000 UK registrations in a full year.
Just over a third of those will be in the fleet segment, so the emphasis will be on dealers winning retail sales.
Owners of rival coupés such as the Alfa Romeo Brera and Mazda RX-8 will be squarely in their sights, as Volkswagen promotes the performance and solidity of the Scirocco.
It is also expected to poach buyers from the three-door Golf.
Brera owners could well be tempted by the Scirocco’s better build quality, but its tame front-end styling will be a let-down.
Nevertheless, its squat stance, sitting almost 10cm lower than a current Golf GTI and 5cm wider, gives the Scirocco the sporty presence that Corrado owners of old have been pining for.
The broad line-up, which includes a 158bhp 1.4-litre TSI petrol and the 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel already in the Tiguan, will be on sale early next year.
Until then, customers can only get their hands on one variant – a 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine developing 197bhp which comes in high-specification GT trim, and is priced £20,940. Buyers get 18-inch alloy wheels, dual zone climate control, dash-mounted CD-changer and leather-trim on the steering wheel, gearknob and handbrake.
Dealers can up-sell from an options list that includes leather trim, touch-screen sat-nav, parking sensors and a panoramic sunroof. The latter two are certainly worth the £955 combined investment.
Rear visibility is poor due to the fixed rear headrests, fat C-pillars and small rear window.
But the extra light from the tilting sunroof gives a real lift to the dark interior, which deserves more illumination as features such as the door arm rests and flat-bottomed sports steering wheel are really rather stylish.
Occupants get supportive and comfortable sports seats, which even in the rear provide decent headroom for adults. Rear seats also fold to increase boot capacity from 292 to 755 litres.
The boot has a high-loading sill due to the rear hatch.
However, it’s unlikely that the Scirocco will develop the cult following that the Corrado achieved.
It’s a totally different proposition, as first full-year sales are hoped to almost eclipse the total 10,155 registrations in the Corrado’s six-year lifespan.
#AM_ART_SPLIT#Behind the wheel
On the rain-soaked back roads of Bedfordshire, the front-wheel drive Scirocco felt swift and quite composed, with its standard ESP interacting reassuringly whenever a wheel lost grip.
All Sciroccos sold in the UK get adaptive chassis control (ACC) as standard. This allows the driver to select between normal, comfort and sport settings, and modifies the damper, steering and accelerator response settings.
Switching the system from comfort to sport took the inch or so of slack out of its steering input for improved directness, although the extra-sensitive accelerator response means the DSG gearbox would down shift unnecessarily at the slightest prod of the right foot.
As ever, the DSG’s changes were wonderfully smooth, and each up shift from around 3,000rpm was accompanied by a gentle pop which emphasised the car’s sporty character.
But buyers will have to decide whether this, and the 0.1 second improvement in 0-62mph acceleration, will justify the DSG’s £1,330 premium.