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Car reviews - Volkswagen - Scirocco - R coupe

Launch Story

Volkswagen logo1 Feb 2012

By MIKE COSTELLO

VOLKSWAGEN'S sought-after Scirocco has finally arrived in Australia, five months after order books opened here and nearly four years after the slinky coupe first appeared in Europe.

Now available exclusively in flagship R guise, the Wolfsburg marque’s low-slung hero car hits Australian tarmac priced from $47,490, with the DSG semi-automatic version (which the brand expects to account for 90 per cent of sales) costing an extra $2500 at $49,990 plus on-road costs.

That makes the Portuguese-built three-door four-seater $2500 cheaper than the equivalently specified Golf R five-door hatch, with which it shares its turbocharged four-cylinder powertrain but not the Golf R’s all-wheel-drive configuration.

The three-door variant of the Golf R has been quietly discontinued Down Under to help make room for the Scirocco R and to reduce range complexity.

While the Scirocco hit European roads in 2008, managing director of the brand's Australian operations, Anke Koeckler, told GoAuto at the car's local launch that it had taken some time to convince Volkswagen’s German head office that two compact performance models could co-exist in a relatively small market like Australia, where the Golf GTI and R hot-hatches are unusually popular.



“We had to convince headquarters that there was still room for another performance car,” she said, “because we are very strong in the Golf GTI and the Golf R, and we didn't want to demonstrate just (sales) substitutions.



“The business case to convince them took a little while – at the end of 2009 we started negotiations to get the Scirocco into the country.”

Currently, GTI and R variants comprise 25 per cent and 10 per cent of total Golf sales respectively – far higher than the global average. Ms Koeckler said she did not expect the Scirocco R to attract as many sales as the more practical five-door Golf R.



“We are not seeking to have those figures for the Scirocco R, because Scirocco is really a car for two people, probably less for four people, so this limits already the people you are talking to,” she said.

Ms Koeckler also stated that supply issues from the factory were a factor in delaying the car's local debut. The brand has previously struggled with the supply of GTI versions of the Golf and Polo, with waiting lists blowing out to 12 months at the time of the latter's local release in late 2010.



“We wanted to have it (Scirocco) last year, but then there was a bit of limitation in the production so we said okay, that doesn't make any sense,” she said.



“We have to make sure we have enough production for what we are looking for, not having the same challenge as we did for the Polo GTI, and that was a reason why we postponed it a bit and did it right for 2012.”

Ms Koeckler said there were around 400 examples of the Scirocco R now in Australia, but conceded that orders for certain specifications – cars with specific colour and option combinations – could take up to six months to arrive.

The Scirocco R's 2.0-litre TSI turbocharged direct-injection four-cylinder petrol engine delivers the familiar outputs (from the Golf R) of 188kW at 6000rpm and 330Nm of torque between 2500 and 5000rpm.

This engine can be matched to either six-speed manual or six-speed DSG dual-clutch automated manual transmissions, the latter with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.

Claimed combined fuel consumption is a relatively frugal 8.1 litres per 100km, corresponding to CO2 emissions of 189 grams per kilometre (8.2L/100km and 192g/km for the DSG).

As mentioned, the Scirocco has a front-drive configuration, rather than the heavier Haldex part-time all-wheel drive system from the Golf R, helping the coupe weigh 120kg lighter than its hatchback cousin at 1351kg (20kg heavier for the DSG).

Despite this, the Scirocco’s zero to 100km/h acceleration time of six seconds dead when fitted with the DSG (6.2 for the manual) is actually three-tenths slower than the grippier Golf.

Standard fare includes the XDL extended electronic front differential lock system found in the Golf GTI, which applies braking pressure on individual wheels to counter understeer.

Volkswagen Australia's newcomer also includes a specially tuned sports chassis comprising Adaptive Chassis Control suspension damping and 19-inch alloy wheels shod with 235/35 R19 Pirelli tyres.

Behind the front wheels sit 345mm ventilated brake discs (310mm at the rear) gripped by glossy black callipers.

Rear luggage space with the pair of rear seats upright is 312 litres – 37 litres more than in the Golf R, thanks largely to the lack of AWD architecture under the loading floor – expanding to 1006 litres with the rear pews folded.

The Scirocco shares its 2575mm wheelbase with the Golf R but is slightly longer at 4255mm (versus 4212mm for the Golf), wider (1820mm compared to 1785mm) and lower (1410mm v 1461mm). The Scirocco’s 1559mm rear wheel track is also 45mm wider than its hatchback cousin.

Standard safety gear includes six airbags, electronic stability and traction control, ABS brakes, electronic brake-force redistribution, hill start assist, optimised front head restraints and front seatbelt pretensioners and force-limiters.

The car’s low and wide front-end reflects the design motto “form follows function” (Volkswagen’s words, not ours), with three large air inlets containing large bumper louvres to help with brake and engine cooling.

Integrated into this nose are standard LED daytime running lights and bi-Xenon headlights with integrated indicators, static curve lighting and automatic levelling control.

The rear of the car is dominated by a subtle rooftop spoiler and a glossy black diffuser in the lower bumper surrounding chrome-tipped twin exhausts.

Other standard equipment includes rear parking sensors, automatic climate-control air conditioning, a touch-screen sound system with 3.5mm and USB auxiliary inputs, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, auto-dimming mirrors and a tyre pressure monitor.

Optional extras include an RNS510 satellite-navigation system ($2500), a high-end Dynaudio Excite sound system ($1100) and a panoramic glass sunroof ($1800).

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