The Volkswagen Scirocco R made its public debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show back in September 2009, so it’s been a long-time coming for local performance car enthusiasts, but finally VW’s range-topping coupe has swooped in. Since we first tested the Scirocco back in 2009, we’ve always looked forward to the day that a more powerful and aggressive rendition would be available. Last week our ed. headed off to the hills of Kwa-Zulu Natal for a taste of the sizzling new Scirocco R.
Like me, when it comes to performance cars, I know you want to hear the facts and figures first. So, at the heart of the Scirocco R is a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder EA113 engine (as opposed to the EA888 fitted to the conventional Scirocco) in heavily revised form. The engine block has been reinforced with an entirely new alloy head, uprated pistons, conrods and high pressure injectors. An uprated turbocharger, generating 1.2 bar of boost, is joined by a new intercooler to cope with the extra heat generated. The result is 188 kW and 350 N.m of torque, which incidentally, is down on power by some 11 kW compared to the European spec Scirocco R. Volkswagen South Africa say this has been done due to the warmer climate, a policy that Audi shares with its S3.
The latest R is available with either a 6-speed manual or DSG gearbox, directing drive to the front wheels via an XDS-equipped electronically controlled differential. The Scirocco R is capable of accelerating to 100 km/h in 6.0 seconds (DSG 5.8 seconds) before reaching a maximum speed of 250 km/h. When you’re not using all the power, Volkswagen claim the turbocharged 2.0-litre will return fuel economy of 8.0 L/100km (DSG transmission) and corresponding CO2 emissions of 187 g/km. A set of uprated brake discs, measuring 345 mm in diameter (310 mm at the rear), and new callipers finished in gloss black are fitted, along with specially tuned, pneumatically controlled, damper units. Finally, an all-new exhaust system exits via tailpipes set on either side of the rear bumper.
All this performance has been packaged in traditional VW fashion, that being a bold, but but not overly extrovert, styling kit. The front and rear bumpers are unique to the Scirocco R and have been designed by Volkswagen R GmbH, the manufacturer’s relatively new, specialist tuning division. The nose is dominated by a trio of deep front airdams set into the front bumper joined by a set of LED daytime running lights. The grille section, finished in gloss black, features a discreet ‘R’ badge and sits in between a set of standard Bi-Xenon headlight units. Further back a set of subtle sill extensions replace the rubbing strip fitted to the conventional Scirocco. At the rear, a new bumper featuring a diffuser is framed by the new chrome-tipped exhausts. A set of smoked rear light lenses sit below a larger rear wing to lend the Scirocco R greater presence. The gloss black look featured on the front grille extends to the wing mirrors and the rear diffuser, all of which remain black regardless of the body colour of the vehicle. Unique to the new R models are a set of 19-inch five-spoke ‘Talladega’ wheels, wrapped in 235/35 profile rubber.
Inside the range-topping Scirocco model you’ll find sculpted sports leather seats that offer great support, a new set of dials featuring electric blue needles – similar to those of the new Golf R – together with a flat-bottomed steering wheel that has gloss black inserts surrounding the multi-function controls. Interior highlights include more gloss black inserts around the airvents and contrast against aluminium trim that includes a set of ‘R’ kick plates found in the door frame. The R is well equipped as standard, with features such as dual-zone climate and rear park-distance control, as well as offering enough space for two rear passengers, together with 312-litres of boot space.
Lower and wider than its Golf counterpart, the Scirocco R has a McPherson strut type front suspension, while a multi-link suspension system does the work out back. The tuning of the springs, dampers and anti-roll bars has been modified to suit the lower ride height (103 mm) and the weight distribution of the Scirocco R. The launch cars were all fitted with Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC), which allows the level of suspension damping to be set between comfort, normal or sport modes, as well as adjusting the electro-mechanical power steering and accelerator response to suit.
Being a front-wheel drive car, the Scirocco R is fitted as standard with XDS, an electronic cross-axle traction control system for improved traction and handling. The XDS system is employed when driving quickly through a bend where sensors provide information on lateral G forces, while ABS sensors monitor levels of friction. Using this information a control unit can predict when an inside wheel is about to lift and apply a braking force automatically to increase traction on the opposite front wheel. XDS brakes the inner wheel before it loses traction rather than afterwards. The result is smoother, more sure-footed and safer progress with better traction through fast corners when on the limit of adhesion. While not entirely seemless, the system does work well, especially in wet conditions when you have plenty of power available beneath your right-foot.
On the road, the front-wheel drive Scirocco R feels lively, offers crisp turn-in and the low centre of gravity contributes to swift changes of direction. The slightly wider track over that of the Golf, allows the Scirocco to carry more corner speed mid-turn and, with 102 kg less weight to cart around, the Scirocco feels noticeably lighter on its feet. Acceleration from a standing start is brisk, but once on the move, the R’s spread of peak torque between 2 500 and 3 500 r/min gives it rapid in-gear acceleration. The DSG-equipped model offers precision gear changes and paddle shifters behind the steering wheel keep you involved. The six-speed manual transmission is easy to work with, by virtue of a linear clutch action and shortish throws between the gears. The pedals are well positioned and first impressions suggest the manual gearbox would offer more fun and still be easy to live with in traffic.
Priced from R403 355, the high-powered Scirocco offers a stylish and involving alternative to the more grown up Golf R.
|Prices (Incl. VAT and CO2 Tax)|
|Volkswagen Scirocco R||R403 355|
|Volkswagen Scirocco R DSG||R417 855|
Prices include a 5-year/90 000km service plan, 3-year/120 000km warranty and a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty.