Volkswagen Scirocco Hatchback (2014 - ) review
The revised Volkswagen Scirocco looks good, and drives just as well as before; but newer coupe rivals now outperform it in several of our key areas
Interested in buying Volkswagen Scirocco?
The Scirocco is a very familiar sight on British roads, and a large slice of its popularity is down to those rakish good looks. Volkswagen hasn’t spent too much time meddling with the design for this refresh, but the subtle tweaks do include new head- and taillights, a new set of bumpers, and some revised alloy wheel designs. How your own Scirocco will look depends a lot on which trim you choose, but the R-Line model we tried came with sporty 19-inch alloy wheels, a bespoke body kit and grille, and some subtle R-Line badges to add an extra bit of aggression to the design. It looks like a slimmed down hatch rather than a bespoke coupe.
Normally a strong point in any VW, the Scirocco has been on sale for a long time now, and its cabin is now feeling a little tired when compared to its rivals, especially the Audi TT . The refreshed model does feature a smart multi-function steering wheel, a redesigned instrument cluster, plus a set of analogue dials mounted on top of the dash. It also does a lot of things right, with a superb driving position, robust materials, and a simple dash layout that is easy to use – although the sluggish infotainment system feels especially out of date, despite the addition of DAB radio as standard. Visibility is decent, and the switchgear all feels substantial and precise – the VW does still feel like a high quality product though, especially compared with other coupes in the class, including the Peugeot RCZ .
Svelte coupes like the Scirocco need to look good above all, which usually means that roominess and practicality take a back seat. Yet despite its sleek looks, you’d be surprised at just how much stuff fits inside the VW. Officially the boot can take 312-litres of luggage, and the rear seats split and fold to increase stowage space. The load bay itself is deep but narrow, which makes loading bulkier items a little awkward, but otherwise the Scirocco is nearly as spacious as a regular hatch. To get into the back you’ll need to be fairly limber, and adults will feel hemmed in by the low roof and narrow footwells on longer journeys. The narrow rear window can also make reversing into narrow parking bays tricky, but that’s a minor niggle in what’s otherwise a really practical, useable three-door coupe
Ride and handling
The previous Scirocco was precise and grippy to drive, rather than out-and-out thrilling, and the same formula applies this time around. Drive it through a series of challenging corners and you’ll find plenty of grip from those wide front tyres, precise steering that weights up consistently as you apply steering lock, and tight body control. The ride on our R-line model did suffer on bumpy roads and when tackling sharp-edged crests though, with its large wheels sending a sharp thud up into the cabin every time you catch a tyre on a wayward bit of uneven tarmac. Before, top-spec versions of the Scirocco came with adaptive dampers but now they are only fitted as standard on the hot hatch ‘R’ version.
There is still a good range of engines to choose from, and every one of them now meets the stricter EU6 emissions regulations – but that just means is that they are cleaner and a bit more powerful across the board. The 2.0-litre 148bhp diesel we tried is set to be by far the biggest seller. There is a flat spot at low revs as it struggles to pull away, but its quick enough for A-road overtakes once you reach the punchier mid-range. Refinement could be better, particularly at higher revs, but the TSI petrol versions are considerably quieter, and a little more responsive. Most engines are available with either a six-speed manual or DSG double-clutch automatic gearbox – the latter is quite a pricey option, but both work very well. Performance enthusiasts should take a look at the range-topping ‘R’ model, with a 276bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine that propels it from 0-62mph in just 5.7 seconds.
Most Scirocco buyers opt for the frugal diesel model, and the reason is clear once you consider its impressively low CO2 figures. The 148bhp model now features start/stop as standard, helping to cut emissions to 109g/km – so its fairly cheap to tax. Volkswagen offers fixed-price service deals that are great value – and while some rivals are cheaper as company cars, the Scirocco comes pretty close. Insurance ranges from medium to high, depending which engine you choose, with the sportier petrols costing the most to cover, and the entry 1.4 TSI the least. All the DSG automatic versions now feature a ‘coasting’ function too – so when you’re running downhill or take your foot off the throttle, it will automatically dip the clutch to drop the revs and help save fuel.
Unlike some carmakers, Volkswagen only offers a standard three-year warranty with a mileage cap of 60,000 on mechanical failures. However the brand performed very well in the most recent JD Power customer satisfaction survey, with four models finishing within the top ten. The Scirocco finished in the top five of the 110 cars featured – which means that it’s probably one of the best coupes for durability. Over 50 owners have given us their reviews too, with most buyers very satisfied with very few faults or rattles reported. Still, one reviewer did flag up a problem with the fuel pumps on 2.0-litre diesels.
Modern coupes come with a raft of active safety gadgets, including collision departure warning, emergency braking at low speeds and radar guided cruise control. The VW has none of these systems – however its passive safety is still fairly impressive. Curtain airbags front and rear, traction and stability control, a tyre pressure monitoring system, and an interior alarm all mean you’ll be well looked after in a crash. Testing body Euro NCAP awarded the VW four stars back in 2008 – although the crash test is now tougher than it was before. In the back there are standard ISOFIX mounting points for a pair of child seats too.
Probably one of the biggest issues with the Scirocco is its fairly high price. On the plus side, that does mean it comes well equipped. The range has four trim levels; Scirocco, GT, R-line and R – but even the entry-level car comes with generous standard kit, with all the essentials including Bluetooth, DAB radio, 17-inch alloy wheels, air-con and a touchscreen display. Stepping up to GT adds climate control, bigger alloys, front and rear parking sensors and a basic sat-nav unit – while top-spec models get sportier styling and leather upholstery. However cruise control, keyless entry and power mirrors are optional on every single version, so you’ll have to fork out extra if you need them.
The Scirocco is a stylish coupe that manages to retain the useful practicality of a family hatchback - so it's a perfect everyday car for image-conscious buyers who need a single car to fulfil a wide range of needs. The latest model drives well, and is frugal enough to make an attractive company car as a 2.0-litre TDI, but it feels dated inside, and is missing some of the hi-tech kit of more modern rivals. It comes well equipped, but is on the expensive side, and the best coupes in this class also offer superior refinement from engine and road noise, and a softer, more cosseting ride too. A very decent all-rounder.