Future classics

Future Classic: Volkswagen Scirocco

by Andrew Frankel
4 April 2023 3 min read
Future Classic: Volkswagen Scirocco
Photos: Volkswagen

I’ve never quite understood what it is about sporting Volkswagen coupés that doesn’t quite sit right in the market. Or I assume that’s the case because VW has made just three in the last half century and not directly replaced any of them. Yet all were fine cars.

The first was the original Scirocco which, it must be said, did hang around from 1974 to 1992. Then there was the 1988 Corrado, and that went after just seven years, leaving VW so dubious about such cars it took over a dozen years more before, in 2008, it finally went back to basics and brought back the Scirocco name at a more affordable level and that seems not to have worked either. Sure, it hung around in the marketplace until 2017, but if it had been deemed a success, VW would not have hesitated to replace it. Instead it got canned. Six years later there is no sign of another and, personally, I’m not holding my breath.

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What is it? A certain lack if snob value? The kind of people who’d buy such a car would just rather turn up in an Audi than a VW? Or is it that these cars lacked the visual drama of their rivals, projecting a more homespun, less adventurous image? Whether we like it or not, it’s pretty clear that when it comes to such cars, these considerations matter far more than less immediately obvious but perhaps more enduring qualities. Like, it is any good to drive?

The original Scirocco was decent enough, the Corrado quite brilliant in an understated way, but here I want to focus on the most recent Scirocco, the one just sitting there quietly waiting to discover whether it is to be accorded future classic status. And I know no better than you whether that will happen. But I know this: it ought to.

For these purposes I’m going to park all the derivatives on one side – the 1.4-litre cars, the diesels, even the Scirocco R. They had their merits and their weaknesses but, having driven them all, I didn’t think any of them added much to the appeal of the first, what we might call standard car, though ultimately it would sit in the middle of the range with a 2-litre petrol engine from the Golf GTI upon whose platform it sat, the same choice of manual or double clutch gearboxes as the Golf and the same 197bhp-208bhp (depending on age) output too.

So perhaps that’s part of the problem too: was this car not just a Golf in party attire? In a word, no. The Scirocco was 40mm longer, a significant 51mm wider and a massive 97mm lower than the Golf. It had its track widened too for broader, more stable footprint, and by 35mm at the front and 59mm at the back. It had a lower centre of gravity than the Golf, was lighter than the Golf, had bespoke settings for its springs and anti-roll bars, adaptive damping and fat, 235/40 section tyres.

They were so good to drive. Not in a laugh you off the road way, and certainly not in a white-knuckling, sweat-breaking way, but something quieter, more cerebral, but no less satisfying. More Yes Minister than Only Fools. Without any histrionics, the Scirocco was just very good at what it did. The engine was smooth, the steering crisp, the balance delightful and the point to point poise clearly ahead of even what the sixth generation Golf GTI was able to manage. It was a slow burn perhaps, but all the more rewarding for that.

But it had something else too, something no Audi TT could ever claim, let alone a BMW Z4 or Merc SLK. They might have the posh badges, but the Scirocco was the one that actually fitted your life better. Why? Because it not only had rear seats, they were good for more than mere additional storage space. It was genuinely quite spacious in the back, unreasonably so for a coupé, and the boot was decent too, so it made sense for a young family in a way none of its more blue blooded rivals ever could.

Mk1 and mk3 Scirocco

When I think back and remember that when it went on sale it cost just £90 more than a Golf GTI, I find that fairly amazing. Ninety quid. Yet today their prices remain on a par. You can find diesels and 1.4-litre cars for a lot less, but £12,000 seems to be about the right kind of money to spend on a nice, low mileage, 2-litre Scirocco. I can’t guarantee it’ll blow your mind on first acquaintance but it is not only a fine car to drive, crucially, it is a very easy one to live with too.

Read more

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Comments

  • Karl Tabbinor says:

    My wife and I recently looked at a 2010 Scirocco 2.0L TSI purely on looks alone. Once we had a test drive, we were blown away by its performance and “point and go”attitude. The steering is precise, the suspension is to die for, a bullet proof engine and a GT with four seats. What’s not to like? We love our Scirocco but the only drawback we have is that we didn’t get in on this earlier, our bad.

  • Pierre Noir says:

    While part of the iconic status of the original Scirocco and Corrado is their boxiness, I absolutely love the curviness of the modern iteration. The design has (and will, I believe) aged very well.

    Definitely a future classic.

  • Moe El-Busaid says:

    I owned a 2016 2.0 TDi VW Scirocco and it was an absolute pleasure to own. The feedback/feel you get from the steering wheel, is something I’ve never come close to experiencing in any other car. I’ve driven the A3, C220, Golf GTI, Focus ST, Prius and Corsa. None of these cars came close to the Scirocco. The only criticism I would give is the handling could of been better if I’m honest, the car did understeer when you really leathered it, but that may of been an issue more with the diesel’s than the petrols, cause of the heavier engine. The car was very stable to drive at high speed, and it had such a low centre of gravity it almost gave go kart vibes at times through corners. It really would stay planted to the ground with no body roll whatsoever. It was fun to drive, it looked beautiful too, and was fairly rare of a car when compared to the A Class, Golf, A3 or 1 series.

    The 2.0 TDI variant was extremely economical too, I live in London, in a borough that’s a massive 20mph zone, and even then I used to usually get 38-43mpg in my short trips. On days I hit the motorways and A roads, I would easily get 45-55mpg, depending on how much I throttled the car. I bought my Scirocco on 6k miles, for £15700, I then sold it on 64k miles for £9100. Apart from tyres, wipers, the odd bulb, and 2 services a year. I didn’t need to spend a penny on replacing any parts. The cost of ownership over 5 years, literally worked out around £140 a month (factoring services, mot, and 2 full sets of tyres). I really miss my Scirocco, if I had a drive or garage I woulda never sold the car. I would of kept it for years to come. For old time sake, when I’m a bit older and I have some spare cash, I will definitely buy a Scirocco to keep as heritage. A truly beautiful machine.

  • Gary mckenna says:

    I’ve a 1.4tsi, it’s a 66 plate had 1 previous owner, it’s sorned at the moment as I’m using another car, it’s a comfy car to drive and looks good. If it becomes a future classic then future values look rosey.

  • Sam says:

    We got a 2010 1.4 tsi in wht with 56.000 miles on it . I love the look of the rear end. The way it drives is just the the dogs have fun. X

  • John cudden says:

    I bought a new scirocco in 017 still have it There nothing out there that I like so I will be keeping it 👌

  • Nick Daw says:

    Ive owned my 2.0 tdi dsg GT spec scirocco for 5 years now. It was a chance buy, I needed a car quick and wanted an automatic diesel. The only car they had was a 16 plate scirocco with 28k on the clock. I got it for a steal of a price. But i think back and I hadnt really given the Scirocco a thought, but when I stopped to notice, stopped to really look at it, I loved it! Then I drove it and fell even more in love. It has the ability to drive like a solid comfortable family car, but drop it into sport mode, find a windy road and boy does it bring the smiles! Its sad to think they have decided to can the Scirocco, because honestly its a brilliant car. Ive been asked a few times if I want to sell it, but my answer is always no, I just love it too much.

  • Doug Hammond says:

    Quote: “The first was the original Scirocco which, it must be said, did hang around from 1974 to 1992.”

    But it was the MkI then the MkII in that time, so ‘original’ Scirocco isn’t quite correct.

  • Andrew says:

    I purchased a Scirocco 2.0L back in March last year, it is the r line version with leather seats. I purely purchased the car as it had beautiful curvaceous lines in a stunning pearl black. Its the best car I’ve ever owned with prices going up it’s a win win situation.

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