Driven - Volkswagen Scirocco R

What's going on with the Scirocco? Why do you almost never see one on the road in Australia? With its little sibling the Golf repeatedly setting new sales records in this country, you'd think lots of people would like to upgrade to a Scirocco...

The latest generation is the first Scirocco marketed in Australia and it's good looking (from most angles), performs well, competitively priced, has the VW badge hat so many people like... I don't get why they're not flying out of dealer's doors.

With a week to review the high performance R version I got a pretty good idea of whet the Scirocco was like to live with. The engine is as so many people have enjoyed in the Golf R, it's a great unit, giving strong acceleration with a strong feeling or torque, giving excellent mid range performance too. There's a slick 6-speed gearbox.

Handling and roadholding are up to (high) expectations, with striking looking 19-inch wheels and low profile tyres doing their part. Oddly though, the front suspension was prone to bottoming out on joins in roadworks and similar bumps, even with the car in the Comfort setting. Wheelspin became wheel hop under strong acceleration from rest, especially in the wet - though this may be attributable in part to the press car having had a hard life, so perhaps there were worn bushes...

The Scirocco is fitted with XDL, which is VW-speak for an electronic differential lock system which is designed to limit torque steer.

Inside, the seats are excellent, supportive and well-suited to a sporty car. There's even room for adults in the back which few coupes can truly boast. The dashboard is flat and characterless, which is not in keeping with the stylish, sporty nature of the rest of the car, but all the controls and instruments are well laid out, easy to understand and use. Quality inside, as elsewhere on the car was clearly high.

There's little wanting in the equipment level of the Scirocco R, as you'd hope for $50,000+. Included in the spec are dual-zone climate control, cruise control, rear parking sensors, automatic wipers, trip computer, Bluetooth telephone connectivity with audio streaming and heated front seats. 6-speed manual (as tested) is standard fitment, but most customers go for the DSG, also a 6-speed unit.

The Scirocco R seems to be many things people love about modern Volkswagens, much of it amplified in a sporty coupe. So why so few sales?

 Volkswagen Scirocco R
 Engine: 2-litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol
 Transmission: 4-speed automatic, fwd (5-speed manual also available)
 Power: 188kW
 Torque: 330Nm
 Performance: 0-100km/h 6.2 seconds
 Price: $53,500 driveaway at time of review
 Text & main photo - Paul Blank (copyright)