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FIRST THOUGHTS: Volkswagen unleashes its hairy-chested front-drive Scirocco R, four years after it went on-sale in Europe. It's been worth the wait.
The styling is aggressive and the stance purposeful. From 10 paces, the Scirocco R looks every bit the tuned and tweaked hot hatch it is. This, just the third iteration since its 1974 release, is the first model to land officially in Australia (we've been waiting for it for four years now). And if style has anything to do with substance, this model (starting at just over $47,000) gets off on the right foot immediately.
While the exterior is the most obvious feature demanding your attention, I find the interior most alluring. The gauges are beautiful, designed for form as much as function, the steering wheel meaty and widely adjustable.
The central sat-nav screen is easy to navigate – no pun intended – and is easy to see from any angle. The switchgear is smartly laid out and easy to understand too. Visibility is, on the whole, pretty good, but the rear three-quarter and the meaty A-pillars do restrict forward vision.
The sports seats are nice and supportive and, even after three hours behind the wheel at the national press launch, my body is suffering from no aches or pains. And you can't say that about many sports cars. Like a lot of sports cars, though, the back seat is really just for short haul journeys or people you don't much like. And there's not a lot of boot space, but you're not buying a Scirocco to lug mountains of gear around either.
In Australia, we will only see one variant of the Scirocco that has been available in Europe for four years now. It is however, the R version, which means it's the one you really want anyway.
Unfortunately for Volkswagen, and us, and you dear reader, the weather for the national launch was atrocious. So much so that the drive out near Falls Creek in Victoria, which should have been a good test of the chassis is little more than a dawdle through torrential rain and fog.
That said, we're able to discern that front and rear grip, body control and bump absorption is pretty impressive. The steering too feels nice and direct, and is well weighted. Even with the adaptive dampers set to Comfort mode, there is some road noise transmitted into the cabin, but that's the trade-off for running 19-inch alloys.
The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder makes 188kW and 330Nm from 2500rpm.
In manual mode, the cost-optional six-speed DSG is quite brilliant (and is free of the jerkiness we've found in some DSGs). It shifts quickly and precisely up or down through the gears accompanied by a slight flutter from the exhaust. The six-speed manual is just as impressive. Fuel consumption is a claimed 8.2L/100km for the DSG.
In terms of standard features, you get 19-inch alloys, LED daytime running lights, dual-zone climate control, bi-xenon headlights, rear parking sensors, rain sensing wipers, Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, multi-function trip computer and the aforementioned sports seats, which are heated, and there's no spare wheel (just an air compressor and a can of tyre sealant). Safety-wise the Scirocco R features ABS, EBD and hill-start assist, traction control, and adaptive chassis control.
VERDICT: Few manufacturers deliver a hot hatch with as much panache, performance and driving poise as Volkswagen. With Polo GTI and Golf GTI already in the stable, you might wonder about the position of Scirocco R. But it's more muscle car than hot hatch… The cheaper Renault Megane RS250 might be its natural combatant, but even at roughly $7k more, the Scirocco delivers a knockout blow.
|Priced from||$47,490 (manual)|
|Number of cylinders||4|
|Engine size||2.0 L|
|Claimed max power (kW)||188 kW @ 6000 rpm|
|Claimed max torque (Nm)||330 Nm @ 2500-5000 rpm|
|Claimed fuel consumption||8.2 L/100km|