The cars we loved.
In the aftermath of the 70’s oil crisis, Volkswagen answered a question that no one had thought to ask: who makes a sporty, fun and economical GT car? The original Scirocco was just that. Styled by Giugiaro, the Scirocco was a step above competitors like the Monza and Maverick. The formula worked well and inspired updates that sold well until 1988, when the last Scirocco’s rolled out of dealer showrooms.
Fast forward 20 or so years and the VW line has been devoid of a Scirocco type car for decades. The Golf GTi has filled the void as best as it could, but it’s clunky shape reminded a sporty car buyer of it’s up right sedan roots. VW teased the market in 2006 when it showed a concept it called “IROC” at the Paris Motor Salon. Only in Paris could the term IROC recall anything besides the American Camaro and Daytonas of the 80’s and 90’s. The name, a play on the middle letters of the word Scirocco, was a clever way of hiding
VW’s intent on testing the waters for a racing inspired Scirocco’s return.
After showing up as a production prototype in Geneva in 2008, it was later available for sale by the summer in Europe. Built in Portugal, the new car was based on the same platform as the Golf V. Styled similar to the Golf, the new Scirocco had a sloping roofline reminiscent of shooting brake cars, but with two doors. In many ways it resembled the profile of the Volvo C30 coupe. The overall appearance was sleek, yet functional in the way that the Scirocco had been known for. The new car has more in common with the Scirocco’s replacement the Corrado than its first and second generation namesake.
Like the Corrado, the new Scirocco’s interior suggested a more upscale car VW GT product of the past. In most markets there are three trim lines available, standard, GT and R. Engine choices were many, all four-cylinder units ranging from 1.4L turbodiesels to the S models 2.0 direct injected turbo. The engine range also included VW’s high efficiency BlueMotion direct injection turbo diesels (available in all model lines). A six speed manual transmission was standard but, more buyers were opting for the 6-speed DSG option. Considered one of the best dual clutch gearboxes in the world (outside of Porsche), little if anything is lost with the choice of the automatic.
Much of what endeared the world to the original Scirocco remains in the new car. A well-controlled ride was made possible by a balanced chassis complimented by an electronically controlled damper system. Drivers could choose from three settings ranging from soft/comfort to a stiffer performance setting. Wheels ranged from 17 to
The inside, while sportier than most VW, was not much different from the Golf GTi. Gone was the low slung feel of the previous Scirocco in favor of a more upright stance inherited from the Golf. The thick C pillars restricted view, making the optional parking assist system a smart option choice. The Scirocco was well received by the European press, citing it’s comfort, capable road manners and unique style. The 256 hp S model in particular with its Audi S3 derived power plant offers the best driving experience for the performance oriented. As a S model, it is VW’s least expensive due to it retaining front wheel drive while other models are often all-wheel varieties. For all the Scirocco merit’s there are still no plans to bring it to the United States. VW America has insisted that it would cannibalize Golf GTi sales as the two cars are similar. VW also stated that the current exchange rate was unfavorable, siting yet another reason to hold off on bring the Scirocco here in any reasonable volume.
Very likely, now that GTi sales are not quite what VW would like, there is a chance than that the next generation of Scirocco due around 2014 may end up here after all. There is enough difference between the more practical Golf and the less roomy, more expensive Scirocco to make room in VW’s US model range. Now that auto makers have been answering the question of who makes a sporty, fun and economical GT car, Volkswagen might get to answer it again in America.