Volkswagen Scirocco GTi

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WHEN we tried the Storm, the luxuriously upholstered top-of-the-range Scirocco GLi variant, back in 1980, we were taken with the superb engine, impeccable grip and handling allied to lino and taut suspension. the sleek lines and the hushed progress. The only obvious areas for improvement lay in the rather cramped accommodation for the rear scat passengers and the shortage of luggage space.

The new top Scirocco, some four inches longer than its predecessor, lacks the Stonn’s leather 9Pholstery, but costs no more now than the Storm did in 1980. Considerable improvement has been effected in the luggage carrying capacity, but the rear mat passengers are still rather cramped. despite an increase in head room: a trip to Heathrm with A.H.’s 6ft. plus frame occupying the front passenger seat had Motoring News. I.T. sitting across the back seat, leg room being so restricted. Even with the bent seats well fc.rward, rear passengers are th for an uncomkrtable time since the seats are placed low ‘Lc.’ 8s head room, and therefore lack under see suPpon. Discomfort would be alleviated if the footwell was angled slightly. The front seats are on the bud side, but are comfortable and ideal for the press-on driver, giving excellent lateral support.

The pleasing elegance of the original Scirocco has given was to the chunky shape of the new —car in the interests of aerodynamic efficiency; this has also led to the rather unfortunate spoiler across the rear hatch, dividing the rear window into two parts and obscuring rearward vision. Visibility forward is excellent and the clear instruments (speedometer on the left, tachometer incorporating fuel level gauge and coolant temperature gauge on the right with warning lights and ‘`econometer” in the centre) are neatly positioned in a well hooded binnacle and viewed through the upper segment of the four-horizontal-spoked steering wheel. The switches for lights, and other services, are arranged down each side of the binnacle, but are obscured somewhat by the wheel rim. They have a rather unsatisfactory feel to them, being rather “woolly” in action. The wipers and indicators are stalk controlled and the heating and ventilation controls are in the centre console. Interior stowages abound in the rather basically trimmed fascia and door panels.

Thus the Scirocco is a 2+2, with the interior appointments very definitely biased th favour of the front scat occupants, and this comes through in its wonderful driving character. The transverse mounted 1,600 c.c. engine always started and ran sweetly straight away, hot or cold. With its Bosch electronic ignition and K-jetronic fuel injection. it develops 110 b.h.p. at 6,100 r.p.m. and 103 lb. ft. of torque at the rather high figure of 5,000 r.p.m., and is a driver’s delight. It loves being pressed hard, and will easily reach the 1113XiMUM permitted 6.750 r.p.m.

A close ratio, live-speed gearbox adds to the driver’s pleasure although that on the test car required some getting used to. The lower ratios are good for 35, 55, 80 and over 100 while the overdrive top provides the claimed maximum 117 m.p.h. The change on our test car needed some getting used to, it being all too easy to find the no man’s land between thftd and fifth or between second and fourth, especially when changing down, but once acclimatised to the degree of precision required in placing the lever, the change is rapid. Rest refill m.p.h. occupies less than 10 sec. when one is trying hard, and the long third gear is invaluable for overtaking. The clutch is light in action but has long travel, all of which needs to be used for grate-free changes.

The roadholding and handling are every bit as good as the willing engine. The rack and pinion steering is direct, so there is none of the loss of feel often associated with power assisted systems, and the car is extremely responsive. Being front wheel drive, there is a tendency to understeer into corners which becomes more noticeable the harder the driver tries, but a slight decrease in throttle pressure soon brings the tail into line ready to power out of the corner. The fine handling and roadholding combine with excellent ride characteristics; it is only when traversing really poor quality roads that the taut suspension is caught out, transmitting significant shudders to the cabin. The test car was equipped with Michelin XVS tyres.

From the driver’s point of view, we have only two quibbles — first, the single blade wiper this clears a large arc, giving plenty of visibility in continuous rain, but, since it parks on the left, feathers of water keep rising into the area of clear screen immediately after the wiper has been parked. We found this extremely aggravating on a long motorway run in damp conditions, when the simple act of washing the screen took on rather more complicated proportions. In the end, it was easier to drive with a spattered screen than concentrate on choosing exactly the right time to turn off the wiper, before it dragged smears across the dry screen and after the water had been dispersed.

The other quibble is its range. The fuel consumption is very creditable, averaging better than 31 m.p.g. for our time with the car, but the tank holds less than nine gallons of fuel, making a comfortable range of only some 250 miles of normal going, and perhaps less than 200 miles of hard driving in difficult terrain.

Quibbles apart, the VW Scirocco GTi is a very fine car which will appeal to the man who needs economical motoring, but who nonetheless wants to enjoy it to the full. At £7,375 it represents much better driving value for money than the obvious opposition. — P.H.J.W.