As the cost of motorings grows, here's how to cut your cars' bills
What - Volkswagen Scirocco R
Where - Hertfordshire, UK
Date - June 2010
Price - £28,505
Available - Now
Key rivals -BMW 135i Coupé, Audi TT S, Alfa Romeo Brera S, Renaultsport Megane 250 Cup, SEAT Leon Cupra R
Pretty Scirocco coupe gains a serious performance edge for the more potent 265hp R version
We like - Looks the business, rorty exhaust note, punchy engine, well-judged damping, blisteringly fast, usefully practical for a coupé, sub-200g/km emissions
We don't like - DSG robs involvement, flimsy shifter paddles, Golf has a much better interior, pricey, stereo's mushy sound quality, competent rather than fun
Gallery: Volkswagen Scirocco R
Read more Volkswagen reviews
From Renaultsport to BMW M, the instant cred of an in-house performance department is an essential selling point for any self respecting performance car. Hence the growing status of VW's R division.
Past highlights include hot V6 Golf R32s and the mad 340hp V10 diesel Touareg R50. And on the back of the latest Golf R comes this, the Scirocco R - a 265hp flagship for VW's slick-looking Audi TT alternative.
Using a version of the turbocharged four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine found in the Golf R, SEAT Leon Cupra R, Audi TT S and Audi S3, unlike the Golf R the Scirocco is front-wheel drive, not four-wheel drive.
It's a bit slower off the line as a result but, at £28,505, is nearly two grand less than a three-door Golf R and pretty much £6K cheaper than the TT S. The R spec brings a much more aggressive look too.
A Scirocco with the old 3.2 V6 from the Golf R32 would have been pretty special but in the current downsizing climate means dropping two cylinders and adding a turbo instead. It's a compromise we can live with!
Like the 210hp engine on the standard Scirocco GT but more so, this 265hp motor consistently impresses with its raspy exhaust note and muscular power delivery, 0-62mph coming up in just 5.8 seconds on the DSG version.
It's got a distinctively turbocharged feel too. There's no real lag like you'd have had on old-school turbos, just a thrilling rush of power that builds and builds, each gearshift punctuated with a cheeky thwap from the R-spec twin exhausts.
As ever, DSG means totally seamless acceleration and the option of automatic shifting or manual override via the stick or small paddles on the wheel. That 55hp gain over the standard Scirocco GT is noticeable too.
Ride and handling
As the Focus RS has proved, huge power in a front-wheel drive chassis is no longer a recipe for uncontrollable torque steer, the Scirocco R fitted as standard with the XDS traction control system found on various hot VWs and SEATs.
Simulating the effect of the the limited-slip differential on the Focus and Megane 250, it means you can confidently use all that power safe in the knowledge the computers will direct it to where it's needed.
Which means the harder you drive the Scirocco the better it gets, the huge grip levels and XDS-metered power delivery rewarding a seriously aggressive approach with blistering progress.
A £765 option on the Golf R, the Scirocco gets the Adaptive Chassis Control (ACC) adjustable dampers as standard, comfort mode offsetting the generally firm ride. It's super composed though, the wider track, lower centre of gravity and 102kg weight saving making it more agile than the Golf.
On the ragged edge there's real adjustability in the chassis too. It's a shame you don't get much sense of this through the steering though, the DSG gearbox removing another layer of involvement and making going fast videogame easy rather than genuinely thrilling.
There's none of the fluidity you get in a Megane 250 either, the throttle and brakes snatchy and over-eager like the car is wired on Red Bull and trying too hard to impress. Indeed, the standard GT feels more at ease with itself.
VW interiors are usually second to none but the Scirocco isn't quite up there with the Golf in terms of either quality or design. Indeed, some areas feel very cheap indeed for a VW.
Alcantara highlights aren't enough to lift the ambience of the fabric upholstered seats either, especially given how good the Scirocco interior can look when specced with leather and other upgrades.
And though there's plenty of R branding everywhere the cabin just doesn't feel special enough. Get in a TT S and you'll immediately see where some of that extra six grand is going, though the Scirocco does at least have usable rear seats.
Leather would cost you another £1,685, our test car lacking this but getting the £1,295 touchscreen nav system. Despite buttons on the multi-function steering wheel Bluetooth connectivity is an extra £380 too.
Economy and safety
Sub-200g/km CO2 and official mpg in the mid 30s (DSG improves both measures slightly) are impressive for a car with this much power but if you drive it hard don't expect much better than mid 20s mpg.
It's better than the four-wheel drive Golf R though. And in terms of safety you get all the usual airbags and electronic stability aids, anti-whiplash headrests for the front seats and ISOFIX seat mounts in the rear also standard.
MSN Cars verdict
The Scirocco R looks great, goes like stink, has four usable seats with a decent boot and is much more glamorous than a Golf. So why does it feel a tad underwhelming?
It's frustratingly close to being fabulous and does all you could wish for. But unless you push it to the limit all you're left with is a sense of competence rather than engagement. And that's a missed opportunity.
Gallery: Volkswagen Scirocco R
Read more Volkswagen reviews
|Need to know|
|Engine - petrol||2.0-litre four-cyl, turbocharged|
|Engine - diesel||N/A|
|Torque (lb ft)||258|
|Top speed (mph)||155|
|Ride and handling||****|
|MSN Cars verdict||****|
related stories on msn
Latest Cars videos
Engineers are using robots to test Ford vehicles through some of the most strenuous obstacles in the industry.
Date 9 hrs ago, Duration 2:20, Views 0