There are perks in this business of testing cars. Oh sure, I may complain about the long airplane flights to Detroit o the overnighter that entails a one hour interview with an auto executive. And I might have words about the dumb driver that almost crashed into the new Corvette I’m driving. Oh wait, I am talking about the perks.
One of those really cool things is once in awhile I get invited to drive a vehicle no one has ever driven or at least very few folks have. That was the case recently when Volkswagen invited me to have a stint behind the wheel of the European version of their Scirocco.
We have had Siroccos in North America in the past (In fact, I have owned a few) but it has been many years. Auto enthusiasts, at least ones who cannot afford any of those high dollar sports cars, are encouraged that at least VW is thinking of bringing this sporty little coupe back to our shores. That is the reasoning behind VW asking a few lucky media types to drive the Scirocco and tell them what we think.
Not to ruin the conclusion of this report, but I was happy to tell the VW folks it is time to bring this car back across the pond. Although, I sure would like to see the styling become more unlike the Golf. In past versions the Scirocco was much more sports coupe looking. Though it was a two door hatchback it was svelter than its siblings. And even though the present Scirocco is based on the Golf platform I am one who would like to see a more graceful design.
However, having said that, the present Scirocco I had my posterior planted in has its own presence. To the untrained eye it may go unnoticed in the flow of traffic as it seemed during my time with the car. However, to those who have just a tad more desire about automobiles than the average driver you notice the subtle differences.
The lower stance created by the longer and lower roof line. The flowing bulge to the rear fenders and the small spoiler at the rear hatch gives the Scirocco more substance on the road. All lend to the Sirocco’s subtle differentiation from the Golf.
Along with that lower roof line comes far less head room in the cabin. However, my 6-foot-2-inch frame had plenty of room thanks to a lower profile of the front seats. I certainly would not be wearing my Stetson or any other head covering for that matter. Though there is a rear seat just as there was in those previous versions, just like those I would leave it to youngsters. Though I could venture into the rear seat I would not want to occupy that space for long.
But, who cares it is the driver’s seat I like because the Scirocco is a blast to drive anywhere but especially fun out on twisting back country roads. This car was a vehicle set up for European desires. In fact, the US government only gave VW a short timed permit to have this in our country, at the end of which it must be sent back to the fatherland. What that meant is the underpinnings where set up for European driving.
Sitting under this Scirocco is VW’s adaptive suspension, which translates to an adjustable shock system that can be controlled from the cockpit. Three settings, Comfort – Sport – Normal give the driver latitude to change from soft to stiff suspension settings. I noticed little between Comfort and Normal but the Sport mode was noticeably more firm and tightened the car. Each imperfection and angle of the roadbed was noticed along with the abilities to take corners faster and with more security.
Stiffer springs that react quicker providing tighter handling yet more abrupt ride quality. Bushings and suspension components that are more resilient to movement equating to more road feedback to driver. All of this translates to a more firm ride one that most Americans spurn yet is the Holy Grail for motoring enthusiasts.
The Scirocco I had was equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that had the power of 261 horses under the hood. Transferring this power to the front two wheels is a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission that was spot on with every shift. This combination is good yet the thing that kept creeping up in my mind was this car deserves, yes this driver, deserves the all-wheel drive system the Golf R has. Launching the Scirocco from a start is a bit of a challenge in that two front wheels just can’t get that power down the way four wheels could.
Upon my return of the Scirocco to the VW representatives anxiously waiting for me, I complemented them on giving me the opportunity to drive another example of their expertise. I quickly followed up with sticking up for my fellow enthusiasts and asking them to get this car to the USA, now! We deserve it