Check out this crazy mid-engine rear-wheel-drive wide body 350bhp Cinquecento
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More Sciroccos roll off the boats at the docks in the UK than in any other European market. Seems we like the Golf-based coupe-cum-hatchback, so news of some updates should be of interest. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll spot the changes.
VW’s stylists have been super cautious with the facelift: re-profiled headlights sit above a redesigned bumper and new LED lights sit atop another revised bumper at the back. Inside, there are deeper cowls on the instruments and a three-dial dash-top set-up that pays homage to those in the original Scirocco - the red digital clock perhaps too close to the Seventies car it’s honouring. Otherwise it’s all beautifully finished but tight for space in the back.
Revisions elsewhere in the range bring more economy and greater output, and that’s the case here with the range-topping R too. Like its Golf R relation, it’s powered by a 4cyl turbo petrol engine, though unlike its proper hatchback sibling it’s not packing 296bhp, the Scirocco R having to make do with a modest 276bhp. That’s still up, by 15bhp, but if you’re stood in a VW dealership with a pushy salesman and the R brochures in front of you, then you might feel a bit short-changed.
That’s compounded by the Golf R’s standard four-wheel-drive system, as the Scirocco makes do with drive heading just one way - to the front. The ESP can’t be fully disabled here, either. And the Golf is cheaper. Volkswagen counters with more equipment on the Scirocco, leather covering the seats and DCC (Dynamic Chassis Control) as standard. That said, we’ve yet to find a road smooth enough in the UK to bother messing with DCC, it’s best just left in Normal mode where it rides with decent composure.
The engine spec might not be very exotic, but it delivers a naughty-sounding burble that hoodwinks people into thinking it’s of bigger capacity and has a greater cylinder count. The performance it offers is impressive, the R’s midrange in particular is always grin-inducing. Nobody will go down this route, but the R is best enjoyed as a manual, as the DSG’s eagerness for high revs makes for frenetic progress rather than tapping into the engine’s greatest strength.
The chassis grips well, has mighty brakes and plenty of traction. It is never anything but quick, but the lifeless steering does little to engage the driver, meaning the R, despite its firepower, is not a particularly exciting drive. That’s always been true, but in the face of some far more interesting - and newer - competition that’s a problem. The spectre of the Golf R also hangs heavy, particularly given its more interesting spec and palatable price.