Many cars work better on paper than in the real world, and this is one. The Scirocco range is curious because you can’t just choose whichever best suits your budget or needs. The standard car, by which I mean the 2-litre, 200bhp machine the world first started raving about when it was launched last year, remains about the most satisfying affordable coupé on the market, but the 140bhp diesel-engined alternative doesn’t work at all, and I speak as a long-time diesel convert. Then again the entry-level 1.4-litre 160bhp petrol variant is a perfectly acceptable alternative for those who can’t quite stretch to the standard car.
And now I’ve been wrong-footed by the new top of the range Scirocco R. With 265bhp, more sporting suspension and an electronic differential, I fully expected it to be the best yet. Not so. Its extra speed (and it will do 0-60mph in 6.4sec and hit 155mph) has been achieved only by compromising the car’s hitherto fine refinement. And while some might consider that a fair price to pay for the extra pace, what’s less forgivable is that the car is actually less fun to drive along a British B-road. The suspension feels like it was set up on dead smooth German roads and lacks the suppleness to tackle our somewhat more challenging lanes. At £26,945, or £4500 more than the standard car, I struggle to see the value.