James Cleary road tests and reviews the new VW Scirocco R Wolfsburg Edition with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
Wolfsburg. A diverse, industrious town in northern Germany, boasting assorted museums, the prerequisite number of Disneyesque castles, and a picture postcard town square.
It’s home to around 130,000 beer and pork knuckle enthusiasts, but one corporate citizen stands out from the crowd – Volkswagen.
The automotive giant’s HQ and largest plant are located there, and every now and then a rush of civic pride, patriotic sentimentality, or a combination of the two delivers special, ‘Wolfsburg’ editions of specific VW models.
In 2015, it was the Golf R Wolfsburg Edition hatch and wagon, followed late last year by Wolfie versions of the Touareg V6 TDI, Passat Alltrack, and this car, the Scirocco R, as it makes a graceful exit from VW showrooms around the globe.
Hats off Walter, the car’s subtle combination of broad, taut surfaces and restrained curves has aged incredibly well.
After five years on sale in Australia, the performance-focused three door is blasting off into retirement with a bang rather than a whimper thanks to the Wolfsburg’s extra flash and fruit.
Just 150 are available locally, and we jagged one to determine whether this will be an awkward or fond farewell.
Is there anything interesting about its design?
Australia was a late-comer to the Scirocco party. The model’s been around since 1974, and the first two generations, plus the first third of the current car’s life missed the cut here.
So, given this third-gen version launched globally in 2009, notwithstanding a freshen up in 2014, fundamentally we’re dealing with a decade old design, developed under the leadership of then head of Volkswagen Group design, Walter de Silva.
And all we can say is hats off Walter, because the car’s subtle combination of broad, taut surfaces and restrained curves has aged incredibly well.
It’s compact at 4.2m long, 1.8m wide and 1.4m high. Angry eyed, angular headlights and a lower shark mouth grille add a satisfying sense of menace, with a gently sloping turret, fat haunches, and a crouching wheel-at-each-corner stance confidently reinforcing the car’s sporting intent.
Speaking of wheels, a key element of the Wolfsburg Edition package is black 19-inch ‘Lugano’ alloy rims, which to our eyes look the business.
The interior conforms with Volkswagen’s corporate leaning towards simplicity and borderline austere functionality, but racy touches like extra instruments in a compact pod on the dashtop (a tip of the hat to the 1974 original), grippy flat-bottom wheel, and the Alcantara and leather trimmed ‘motorsport’ front seats add just the right amount of performance focus.
How practical is the space inside?
A 2+2 seating configuration is automotive code for plenty of room in the front, but squeezy in the back, and the Scirocco R follows that script to a tee.
The high-back front seats are comfortable and grippy once you’re in place, but jeez they’re a struggle to get in and out of. Pronounced side bolsters do the job dynamically, but all I could think of every time I scrambled over the door side ‘wing’ of the driver’s seat cushion was what its leather trim might look like in a couple of years’ time. Likely answer… stuffed.
And those Wolfsburg-exclusive seats remain an obstacle for those heading into the rear. Without a quick tilt-and-slide mechanism, it’s a matter of spending half a day twisting a knob to angle the backrest forward, then leaning in to access the under-seat handle and slide the whole thing forward.
Once you’re back there though the amount of legroom on offer is a pleasant surprise. I’m 183cm tall, and sitting behind the driver’s seat (set to my position) there’s was a decent gap in front of my knees, with more than adequate foot room to boot.
Sadly, things aren’t so great when it comes to rear headroom. Not a big surprise when you look at the roofline’s conspicuous taper, and I had to crank my noggin at least 45 degrees sideways to be able to sit properly upright.
That’s bearable for short journeys, and fine if you want to sling a couple of kids back there, but it’s worth noting rear air vents and cupholders are missing-in-action.
Up front, there’s a lidded centre storage box (with 12 volt power outlet and USB input), cooled glovebox, door bins (but no specific bottle holders), and plenty of oddments space, plus two cupholders in the console, defined by Volkswagen’s signature bottle opener divider.
It might look like a coupe, but technically the Scirocco’s a hatch, and the short rear door opens to reveal 312 litres of cargo space with the rear seats up, expanding to a claimed 1006 litres with the 50/50 split backrests folded forward.
But those numbers don’t tell the whole story, because with rear seats in place we stood a snowflake’s chance of slotting the CarsGuide pram into the back, although three medium to small hard suitcases fared better. Cargo area lighting, tie down hooks and a 12 volt socket are also a plus.
Be aware there’s no spare tyre, rather a ‘Tyre Repair Kit’ (better known as a can of goo).
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?
Before it drifted towards the sunset with the arrival of the Wolfsburg Edition, the ‘standard’ Scirocco R weighed in at $45,990 for the six speed manual, and $48,490 for a primo six-speed ‘DSG’ dual-clutch version.
That entry price delivered a lengthy list of standard features including dual zone climate control, VW’s ‘Optical Parking System’ (including front and rear parking sensors), bi-xenon headlights with LED DRLs, cruise control, remote central locking, a 6.5-inch multimedia interface with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink connectivity, eight-speaker audio, auto headlights and wipers, heated front seats, leather steering wheel and handbrake lever, rear privacy glass, metallic paint, and 19-inch ‘Cadiz’ alloy wheels.
Wolfsburg-specific additions to that list run to the ‘Lugano’ black 19-inch rims, black wing mirror housings, the sports front seats, and an upgraded ‘Discover Media’ audio and sat nav system incorporating an improved 6.5-inch colour screen as well as MP3 and WMA-style improvements too numerous to mention here. And in case you forget what type of car you’ve bought there’s special Wolfsburg badging and a numbered plaque.
In terms of Wolfsburg colours, it’s a choice of two; ‘Oryx White Pearl Effect’ or ‘Rising Blue Metallic’, with the manual price ticket reading $49,490 (there’s only 30 of them), and the dual-clutch version cracking the half ton at $51,990. For those of us who didn’t pay anywhere near enough attention in maths class, that’s a $3500 premium.
What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?
The current Scirocco R is fitted with a ‘TFSI’ (turbo) version of VW’s (EA113) 2.0-litre, double overhead cam, 16-valve, four cylinder petrol engine.
It produces a solid 188kW at a somewhat lofty 6000rpm, although approximately 80 per cent of that is on tap from around 4000rpm. Max torque arrives at just 2400rpm and remains at full strength all the way to 5200rpm.
That power and torque goes to the front wheels only via a six-speed manual gearbox or six-speed ‘DSG’ dual-clutch (auto) transmission.
How much fuel does it consume?
Claimed fuel consumption for the combined (urban/extra urban) cycle is 8.1L/100km (with 189g/km of CO2) for the manual and 8.0L/100km (with 187g/km) for the dual clutch.
According to the on-board trip computer, over approximately 250km on test our dual clutch Scirocco R consumed 9.4L/100km. It’s premium 98RON fuel only, and the tank capacity is 55 litres.
What's it like to drive?
According to impeccable online sources the ‘Sirocco’ is a Mediterranean wind originating in the Sahara, which often builds to hurricane speeds across North Africa and Southern Europe.
It’s also the name of a succession of Errol Flynn’s yachts, and I’ve occasionally thought about the handling and performance numbers they may have racked up.
But, notwithstanding the inclusion of a rogue third c, this Scirocco also has the magical ability to take over your consciousness from the moment you get on board.
Urgent throttle response, crisp gear changes (via steering wheel paddles), top-shelf 235/35 Continental ContiSportContact rubber, and superb steering deliver fantastic point-to-point ability and instant enjoyment.
The sports suspension (strut front, four-link rear) with ‘Adaptive Chassis Control’ (electrically controlled dampers) is adjustable through Normal, Comfort and Sport settings. It is, in a word, brilliant. The transition between settings is rapid and distinct, with Comfort a brilliant option for urban Australia’s typically buggered bitumen.
Not surprisingly, Sport mode tightens everything up and quickens the cars reflexes, but in the day-to-day sense it’s best left for track days.
The Electronic Differential Lock (EDL) seamlessly manages appropriate supply of drive to each front wheel, the sports front seats grip like a vice, and the tuned exhaust adds to the drama with a raucous blurt accompanying high-rev up-changes.
Power delivery from the 2.0-litre turbo four is potent and agreeably linear. Volkswagen claims 0-100km/h in 6.0sec for the dual-clutch (6.2 for the manual) and it feels every bit that fast.
Even under the pressure of a cheeky backroad blast, the Scirocco remains balanced, composed and seriously quick, with ventilated front and rear discs also delivering progressive, competition-grade stopping power.
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?
Despite its advancing years, the Scirocco R is loaded with active safety tech including, ABS, Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution with Emergency (flashing) Brake Lights, traction control, a reversing camera, and a low pressure tyre indicator. No AEB, though.
And if things go beyond the point of no return, passive safety features include driver and front passenger as well as curtain airbags, but the ‘motorsport’ front seats delete the otherwise standard front side airbags.
Both rear seat positions feature ISOFIX child restraint anchor points.
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?
The Scirocco R Wolfsburg Edition is covered by Volkswagen’s three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.
Volkswagen’s ‘Assured Service’ program requires scheduled maintenance every 15,000km or 12 months.
Cost of the first service (as at the date of publication) is set at $441.00, the second (30,000km/24 months) $631, the third (45,000/36 months) $554, the fourth (60,000/48 months) $1369, and the fifth (75,000/60 months) $441. That makes an average of $687.20.