In launching the original version of its Scirocco coupe, Volkswagen was said to have 'democratised the sportscar'. When in 2014, it introduced the improved third generation version were going to look at here, the brand hoped to have redefined that original recipe.
The name refers to a hot wind that blows from the Sahara desert to the Mediterranean and designates a model line actually pre-dating that of the Golf, with a history stretching all the way back to 1974 when this car marked a new era for front-engined, front-wheel drive Volkswagens in Europe. It was certainly very different from the rear-driven boxer-engined Karmann Ghia model it replaced, though not much faster, early versions offered with as little as 60bhp. The iconically-wedgy Giugiaro styling looked good though, which was all most buyers cared about. Less memorable was the second generation version launched in 1981, though at least by now, more powerful engines were featuring beneath the bonnet.
The launch of the smaller Corrado coupe in 1989 spelt the end of the first phase of Scirocco history but loyal owners never forgot it and in 2008, the badge was back on the pretty tailgate of the third generation version we're looking at here. This time round, style really was mixed with substance, the shape based on an 'Iroc'-badged concept car that had wowed the crowds at the Paris Motor Show a couple of years before. Like its predecessors, this Scirocco was Golf-based - or more specifically, Golf GTI-based, given that early models could only be ordered with the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine from that car. In time though, the range gained more affordable petrol versions, a selection of diesels and, in 2009, a potent 265PS flagship 'R'-badged variant that at launch, was one of the fastest contenders in its class.
All of that was enough to keep Volkswagen well-placed in the affordable coupe segment for some time, but by 2014, this MK3 model was at last beginning to show its age. Not in terms of its looks - the shape still turns heads. When it came to technology and efficiency though, an update was clearly needed to keep the car current in the face of competition from rivals like Peugeot's RCZ, Vauxhall's Astra GTC and the Volkswagen Group's other contender in this sector, the SEAT Leon SC. Hence the higher trim levels and lower running costs of this updated version, a car also improved with a subtle restyle. It sold until late 2017 and wasn't replaced.