The second in the fun rides that don’t cost a million is the Scirocco R. However, a price point in the 160 K range instantly places it in contention with the Mercedes A250 or the Volvo V40 and way ahead of the sporty promise of the GTI.
For drivers who have lived with the cult status of the GTI for years, Scirocco is an existenial question that rears its handsome head in the Volkswagen range. Even though it is equally or even more powerful in the R version, and handles anything that you throw at it like a well-trained dolphin, the Volkswagen Scirocco explains its presence by design. It was born to please those who would look beyond the GTI’s ‘conventional’ interpretation of sporty design or the more gothic Golf R. Set low and somewhat feminine in its sculpted form, everything about the Scirocco is sultry as the name suggests.
For those familiar with the Volkswagen naming tradition, the Scirocco is named after a hot wind that blows across the Mediterranean into southern Europe, often accompanied by dust or rain. While taking the car out for its summer ride, I had to wait for the dust and the rain to subside, and then the Scirocco R blew with all its might.
UPSIDE: Designer styling, Powerful and sharp, Good boot space, Reasonable fuel consumption
FLIPSIDE: Compromised visibility, Meagre cabin storage, Phone connection needs to be refreshed every time, Little cabin gadgetry
The Price: AED 163,900 for the R and AED 144,900 for Scirocco ‘Sports’
The Specs: 2.0L TSI, 255 bhp, 350 Nm torque, 6-speed automatic DSG, 19” low profile wheels, Bi-Xenon headlamps, 0-100 in 6.3 sec during test, Top speed 250 kmph, Fuel economy 8.4 km per L (test) / Scirocco Sports: 2.0L 210 bhp
The Scirocco R shows an inordinate ability to impress, right from the grille or the air dams beneath, flanked by the bewitching wink of its headlamps and the low profile bumper spoilers. The enchatment continues in the rear with dual exhausts and an integrated red lamp, which is low perched yet high in relation to the overall body design.
A flap spoiler and a typically narrow windscreen makes the Scirocco R look tapering towards rear, but the vaulting roof line provides more headroom than you expect. The dark interiors are largely reminiscent of the GTI or the Golf R; what’s missing is the red lining of the GTI. The console controls, the steering wheel and the seat configuration too take after the sporty family of Volkswagen.
Cabin and controls
Instead of turning the 2-door into a 2-seater sport hatch, Volkswagen has yet again created a two plus two with sport-styled seats and ample leg room in the rear. From the outside, the side windows of the Scirocco R looks as though it is a seamless stretch, and visibility is the last issue you would expect in the Scirocco R. Ironically, it is perhaps the first you will encounter, thanks to the toxic combination of a highly stylized set of smallish side view mirrors and the narrow rear windscreen. Fairly enough, an attempt has been made to cover the immediate blind spot but a casual glance doesn’t reveal much farther, which is surprising for such a quick car. Make use of the wide windows through a prompt shoulder check, and you should be fine.
Engaging the Bluetooth phone connectivity was slightly layered but once connected, there were no glitches. An automatic connection would have been so much easier, with every entry demanding reconnection. Including the armrest, the cabin suffers from a slight overdose of hard plastic. The Dynaudio music system is well above average but nothing earth shattering.
If it is one of the most fun-looking cars in autodom, it is because the Scirocco R is fun to drive. The hot hatch hugs the ground so tight that you would almost think it is on rails, especially when drawing an arc across flyover ramps or negotiating curves. If you overlook an occasional tendency to steer off at sharp turns, the car doesn’t budge an inch. It wasn’t long before my naughty side got the better of me (this Scirocco can serenade you into it, believe me!) and I switched off the traction and sharply nudged the steering to reveal its playful side. It willingly complied!
Unsurprisingly, the Scirocco R comes with a Sport mode and a Manual tiptronic mode. Those paddle shifts are so well concealed that I wondered if the car had any at all. The Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) operates in all three modes – Normal, Comfort and Sport.
With 255 bhp and 350 Nm of torque (which is more than the 330 Nm of the Golf R!) efficiently distributed through its 6-speed DSG transmission, it’s a powerful car even on the Normal. Quickening its steps when in sport, it otherwise clearly marks a smooth transition from gear to gear, settling down quickly punctuated with subtle blowouts to boot. Even though there isn’t an obvious torque lag, the Sport mode helps with the flat plateau of power at the start. The 0 to 100 came up in 6.3 seconds with not so much a delayed start as in the case of the GTI. The Scirocco R is quick and agile.
Volkswagen is relentlessly squeezing miles out of every drop; they recently even came up with a ‘one litre car’ concept. Though nothing close to that, the Scirocco R returned a fuel efficiency of 8.4kms per litre, which is quite good considering what you can extract out of those 8.4 kms. Surprisingly for a car that is far from cheap, all the driver assistance you get is a coffee alert when you begin to nod! A blind spot monitor would have been a welcome addition to this car.
The Volkswagen Scirocco R has quick reaction times, a genial turning radius and a genuinely sporty feel about it. And thanks to its low profile, I’m sure the car would have stood up to the elements and the road even if I had attempted a top speed test of the claimed 250 kmph.
Despite what the mulkiya says, the Scirocco seats four people comfortably, not five. The mid-seat is merely a ridge in between and the console anyway ends far too close to place your leg. The seats are very firm behind but even in the Sport mode, this car is not bumpy enough to make it uncomfortable for the passengers.
In true sports car styling, the bootlid happens to open somewhere midway, to reveal one of the deepest trunks you will ever come across in a sport hatch. It surprised my guests during an airport run, swallowing all the luggage they had. Unfortunately, that’s where the storage advantage stops. Inside, the space under the armrest and on the doorsill is pretty meagre. The only consolation is a space for coins or your wallet towards the bottom left of the steering wheel.
The essential Volkswagen Scirocco R
The Scirocco R is a fun car to drive. All it takes is getting used to making the most of those wide window spaces and learning to get around the hurdle of a narrow rear windscreen. The Scirocco R has a gripping drive and frolicking antics with the right sport settings, but you wouldn’t dare to call in the Sport mode while on a family drive for fear of upsetting the passengers in the rear.
So if you are looking for something fanciful and quick with the option to stick two more adults back in the rear seats, wouldn’t stand you up in terms of luggage space, and demands a rightful premium for all the design hours spent on it – Scirocco R is your car.
Drive Courtesy: AVME
Pictures: Sudeep Kosh