The styling is a big part of the Scirocco's attraction. The car is poised, shapely, modern and suitably far removed from the Golf it shares its platform with. The powerful rear haunches and the dramatic roofline that drops to meet them still stand out while the thin grille serves to visually widen the car. Volkswagen isn't known for its stylistic innovation but this is one model where the marque hit the nail on the head.
The Scirocco cabin cocoons its occupants in familiar Volkswagen design cues and build quality. The cocoon will be on the tight side for adults in the rear seats but the two front berths provide comfort, space and a well judged driving position for the person behind the three-spoke sports steering wheel. The interior is airy and light, and the optional panoramic sunroof further emphasises the feeling of spaciousness.
The Scirocco is quite practical for a sports coupe but a good few notches less so than a three-door Golf. There's a reasonably wide boot aperture which opens up 292 litres of luggage space. Fold the split rear seats down and you've got 755 litres. The Scirocco features four, individual sculpted seats finished in either cloth or leather. The sports seats aren't just restricted to those up front - the contoured rear seats feature integrated headrests to offer plenty of support. Proportions for this car are classically short, low and wide although the dimensions betray its reliance on Golf mechanicals. The vehicle measures 4,256mm long, 1,404mm high and 1,810mm in width.
Keep a look out for cars that have been flogged by overenthusiastic owners and ensure that servicing has been attended to diligently. Otherwise the Scirocco has a strong reputation for reliability. If the car has been equipped with the optional DSG paddle-shift gearchange, check that all ratios engage smoothly and cleanly, especially reverse. DSG problems are a very costly fix.
(approx based on a 2008 Scirocco 2.0TSI GT ex Vat) A clutch assembly will be around £150 and an alternator should be close to £200. Brake pads front and rear are about £65 and £55 respectively.
With a zingy turbocharged petrol engine installed, the Scirocco is nothing short of infectious. The underpinnings, as we've said, are purloined from the mk5 Golf but VW's engineering trickery has succeeding in making the little coupe feel more than the sum of its parts - and the Golf itself is no slouch in the driving enjoyment stakes. In many cases, drivers will be predisposed to bond with the Scirocco, having been seduced by its pert and beautifully detailed exterior prior to lowering themselves inside.
The TDI diesel definitely removes a little of this sheen. It isn't as sweet-sounding with a power delivery less linear than the petrol options and a less than thrilling 0-60mph acceleration time of 9.3s in 140bhp form but the essential vitality of the Scirocco remains. The 2.0-litre TDI might lag behind in a straight foot race to 60mph but with 320Nm of torque output even in 140PS guise, it has a mid-range surge of power that puts even the 2.0-litre TFSI petrol unit in the shade and it makes a surprisingly capable long-distance car. There's also the little matter of 55mpg economy to factor in.
The 2.0-litre turbo is the engine to have with its smooth power delivery and involving engine note. 0-60mph takes 7.2s in the 200bhp version and economy will still come close to 40mpg. The 160bhp 1.4-litre TSI unit, if anything, is even more effervescent with an 8s 0-60mph time and 42mpg making it a decent substitute for the range-topper.
The key to the advances made by the Scirocco's handling over the equivalent Golf centre around its dynamic aids. Most models feature advanced Adaptive Chassis Control offering three driver-selected settings - comfort, normal and sport. The system's influence extends to the steering system: should 'sport' be selected, the steering firms up to provide more feel while 'comfort' mode makes the steering lighter and easier to operate at low speeds or around town. The standard six-speed manual gearbox is light and slick but Volkswagen's excellent 6-speed DSG twin-clutch gearbox is well worth seeking out. It lets you select automatic mode or flick between ratios with the paddle shifters.
A thoroughly well-executed small coupe, the Volkswagen Scirocco is tailor made for buyers who find a three-door Golf a little dull. Based on the excellent Golf mk5 chassis with some of that car's best engines, the Scirocco looks and feels special while turning in a highly polished performance on the road. Practicality is down on what you'd expect in a three-door hatchback but a reasonable boot and usable rear seats put the car well ahead of most compact sportscars you care to mention.