Sharp handling diluted by the passage of time
Seven years after its launch, the Volkswagen Scirocco has finally received some revisions. While amounting to no more than the usual nip here and tuck there, after so long this alone would probably justify this review.
But that’s not why it’s here.
The minor modifications amount to the bare minimum VW could get away with while still being seen to be putting a fresh foot forward, and need not delay us here. The reason I recently spent a week in one is that I’ve not driven one in many years and those recollections I had of this smart yet spacious coupé were almost entirely positive.
Also, since its launch was so long ago that this regular slot did not exist, I’m fairly confident I’ve never reviewed any Scirocco for this title.
What I recall is a car that simply got on and did the job without fuss or drama. Unlike the previous-generation Audi TT it wasn’t a car more concerned with how it was perceived than how it drove, it was merely simple, honest and surprisingly effective. Not only was it quick – I can remember keeping up with all sorts of apparently far faster machines around the Bedford Autodrome because it was so accurate on the way into corners and so economical with the space it required at the exit – it made sense too. It might look cramped, but there’s actually room for four to sit in tolerable comfort, which is not something you’d ever feel inclined to say about the TT.
Driving the Scirocco today, it is clear that at least one of us has changed quite considerably in the intervening years, and not in a good way. The car delivered to me came with a 148bhp 2-litre diesel engine, which provided performance that was as accessible as it was unremarkable. While it provided predictably decent fuel consumption, the subtle flair and spark that so characterised this car all those years ago was notable only by its absence. And yes, it would have been better with a petrol engine, but its lack of outright power was not what bothered me: it was that the car was no longer fun to drive.
I took it out to mid-Wales to see where its character had been buried, but if it was lurking somewhere within, it was not possible to find it within the bounds of what can safely be achieved on a public road. It no longer felt that incisive as I turned into corners, the steering lacked feel and, while it would adjust its line if you were coarse with throttle inputs, the delicacy of old was missing. The ride was poor, too.
It is of course possible that time has played tricks on me and my memories of this car are rosier than they should be, but I don’t think so.
In fact I think the trick has been played on the Scirocco: time has marched on and, unwilling to move with those times, it has been left behind.
Engine: 2.0 litres, 4 cylinders, turbocharged
Power: [email protected]
Torque: 251lb [email protected] rpm
Transmission: six-speed double clutch, front-wheel drive
Top speed: 132mph