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Volkswagen Scirocco GT 2.0l TSi review



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When the VW Scirocco first broke cover last year, I was far from enamoured with it. I really couldn't understand why motoring journalists were all cooing over it, and was equally stumped as to why it was being called a coupe, when it looked (to me at least) like a hatchback. Personally I preferred the Golf GTi on which the Scirocco was based, feeling that the latter was more contrived than stylish.

Now, anyone who knows me will be aware that I'm not the type to easily admit that I was wrong, but in the case of the Scirocco, I was! Having spent a while driving a Scirocco GT every day, my opinion hasn't so much changed, as turned on its head. To cut a long story short, I absolutely love this car, and I will be very, very sad to see it go back to VW.

The Scirocco is definitely a car that you need to see first hand because the photos simply don't do it justice. Even in the somewhat garish green of the test car (although I kind of like the colour), the Scirocco looks sleek and stylish. And yes, the rear end still shouts hatchback to me, but the front three quarters are every inch a coupe. The rake of the windscreen, the long stretch of glass as the front windows melt into the rears and of course the frameless nature of the front windows all make this car feel more coupe than hatch. It's also pretty low compared to any current hatchback, giving it a far sportier look than most.

The test car that VW sent me is the range topping 2.0l TSi model which sports the same turbocharged engine as the MkV Golf GTi and pumps out just under 200bhp. But don't let that fool you into thinking that the Scirocco is some kind of performance hooligan, because it isn't. In fact this is an incredibly refined vehicle that just oozes build quality - yes my Clio 197 F1 produces the same amount of power and is a fair bit quicker, but when it comes to day to day comfort, the Scirocco is in another league. Even more impressive is that VW has managed to keep CO2 emissions down to 179g/km, meaning that the Scirocco falls into the £170 per annum Road Tax bracket!

Other engine options include a 1.4l TSi petrol lump which still produces an impressive 160bhp and raises combined fuel economy from 37.2mpg to 42.8mpg. Of course if fuel economy is paramount to you, but you still like the looks of the Scirocco, you could go for the 2.0l diesel option. This will put out around 140bhp while returning a wallet friendly 55.4mpg.

If there's a downside to the Scirocco's undeniable refinement, it's that it isn't as sporty to drive as its looks suggest. That's not to suggest that getting behind the wheel of this car isn't fun, because it is, but if you're looking for a hardcore driver's machine, there are better options out there. But that's not really what the Scirocco is all about, and despite the fact that I always buy my cars based on dynamic ability and performance, I could happily live with this car as my daily drive.

Of course what we're really here to talk about is the technology that VW has endowed the Scirocco with, and in this department it's no less impressive. This test car isn't quite stuffed to the gills with options, but what's there is very good indeed. So, if you've been won over by VW's baby coupe (as I have) and are wondering which option boxes to tick, read on…

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April 2, 2009, 5:28 pm

The typeface on the entertainment system looks awfully like Comic Sans... I shudder at the thought.


April 2, 2009, 5:43 pm

I'd also say that I would use the 3.5 aux in, due to the limited format support and small hard drive.

It should really support ogg and flac, as they are licence free, and would it hurt to support aac files, as mp3 is an antiquated standard with poor sonic abilities?

Finally, a 30GB hard drive in a 㿀,000 car seems cheap. I would imagine it's a 1.8" drive, but still, Toshiba now do 1.8"ers up to 250GB, and I would imagine the OEM price difference between a 30GB and 80GB would be easily less than 㿊.

Having the DynAudio system but no space/support for lossless music strikes me as an oversight, and not supporting a decent lossy codec is also iffy.

Simon J

April 2, 2009, 5:44 pm

Nice review of the Scirocco tech and I will be definitely spec'ing this unit in mine....although it would be nice if they sort out their SDHC cards.

FYI all Ford, Jag & Landrover touchscreen satnav systems (both Denso / Blaupunkt sourced) offer full 6digit postcode searches and are much better for it. I am surprised and disappointed that the German manufacturers shy away from this basic of function for their really expensive built in units. I wonder what the reason for this is? Is it because this is a UK specific need and as such not worth factoring in?

Out of interest, did this car come with the bluetooth phone connectivity and if so what was this like?

James Morris

April 2, 2009, 5:50 pm

Pioneer does a head unit with SDHC card slot now - the DEH-P4100SD.


April 2, 2009, 5:52 pm


Second to last paragraph:

"You've probably noticed that I haven't talked about communication systems, and that's because my test car didn't come equipped with Bluetooth or voice control. That's not to say that you can't get Bluetooth support on the Scirocco, just that this particular car didn't have it. I'll make sure that the next VW I look at has this feature so I can put the system through its paces. "


April 2, 2009, 6:45 pm

@Stephen Allred - Yes ogg and flac would be nice, but come on, the majority of music players don’t support them. It’s a shame, but that’s just the way it is. I certainly wouldn’t criticise the system in the Scirocco for not supporting more codecs, when so few devices do.

“Finally, a 30GB hard drive in a 㿀,000 car seems cheap.” - Not sure I agree with that. I spent a lot more than that on one of my cars and it didn’t have a hard disk based system in it at all, so I wouldn’t say that 30GB of storage is “cheap”.

I also wouldn’t say that the DynAudio system is wasted with only MP3 and WMA support, because if you really want ultimate fidelity you can load seven CDs up and listen to uncompressed music.

Finally, I think that if you don’t have the six disc CD changer, you get proper USB/iPod connectivity, which I’m guessing would be just right for you.

@Simon Johns - You’ve got a Scirocco on order? You won’t be disappointed. Thanks for the info on the other sat-nav systems. I’ll be getting a Jaguar in shortly so I’ll be able to try it out for myself. And yes, the issue is that postcodes are only this accurate in the UK (and I think Holland), so many manufacturers will skimp on the support.


April 2, 2009, 6:50 pm

Well, I have to say that compared to the old Scirocco, the new one is awful in terms of design. I really liked the old one, but this one looks very much like some Honda models... :(


April 2, 2009, 6:56 pm

I have a fully specced GTI and would take it over the Scirocco every day of the week. I really like the Scirocco, but it just doesn't tick as many boxes as the GTI in my opinion :)


April 2, 2009, 7:15 pm

Hmm... mixed up the models it was the Corrado that was nice, not the old Scirocco :D


April 2, 2009, 7:44 pm


"Yes ogg and flac would be nice, but come on, the majority of music players don’t support them. It’s a shame, but that’s just the way it is. I certainly wouldn’t criticise the system in the Scirocco for not supporting more codecs, when so few devices do."

I suppose so, but I would lean towards criticising the majority of devices' codec support.

"Not sure I agree with that. I spent a lot more than that on one of my cars and it didn’t have a hard disk based system in it at all, so I wouldn’t say that 30GB of storage is “cheap”. "

Again, true, but as they have gone to the effort of including hard drive based storage why include such a small drive? They have already spent the money on R&D, so the only extra cost incurred the difference in the OEM price for the differing size drives. Frankly, I'd be happy if the passed on the extra cost to the customer, even as an option. Who's going to notice 㾶-㿞 in a 㿀,000 car? But I would suggest you would notice the difference between 30GB and 80GB.

"I also wouldn’t say that the DynAudio system is wasted with only MP3 and WMA support, because if you really want ultimate fidelity you can load seven CDs up and listen to uncompressed music." Very true, but it sort of defeats the point of a hard drive based system.

"Finally, I think that if you don’t have the six disc CD changer, you get proper USB/iPod connectivity, which I’m guessing would be just right for you." Ah, excellent, but again defeats the point of the hard drive.

I know I'm just nitpicking, but it's one of those typical close but not quite a cigar, but maybe a fancy cigarette situations that seem to crop up in the tech industry a lot. Like the Denon DVD-3800BD should really have BD Live.

John Houghton

April 2, 2009, 7:47 pm

I'm using a Lacie 250 self-powered USB drive through the USB/Media port on my Scirocco so no worries about the limitations on the SD card slot...


April 2, 2009, 8:03 pm

@Stephen Allred - You're right, the cost of a more capacious drive would be negligible when worked into the cost of a car. Usually these situations arise because the lead time for factory fitted tech in cars is far greater than with after market stuff. That said, most car manufacturers I've spoken to are trying to address this, as well as create systems that are more upgradable.


April 2, 2009, 10:09 pm

Good car, but it looks like a copy of the Volvo C30. Shame it's not available with a sweet sounding 5 pot motor though ;-)

Martin Daler

April 3, 2009, 12:25 am

Riyad, oddly enough, if you don't have the satnav then it will read SDHC cards - perhaps you could tackle VW on why having satnav downgrades the system to SD only. As mentioned before, lose the CD changer and you get the usb/iPod interface which seems a far more useful option. The factory supplies the car with just the USB cable - your dealer is supposed to supply the iPod cable but you may have to remind them. Incidentally, I would challenge anyone to actually tell the difference beween a lossless format and a decent MP3 bit rate with any sort of ambient road noise going on - we are not talking listening-room auditions here.

As to the comparison with Volvo C30 ChrisC, words fail me. The C30 looks kind of OK, but close up, its got a slightly Tonka-Toy clunky aspect to it, and the rear/tailgate is horrible. The Scirocco looks fabulous, from all angles and is much better put together. Just my opinion...


April 3, 2009, 12:47 am

what all car manufacturers need to do is an inbuilt satnav with full tomtom software IQ routes ect.

but it is a very good looking car

Martin Daler

April 3, 2009, 1:10 am

PS. Riyad, the VW factory fit bluetooth systems requires rSAP (remote SIM Access Profile - you knew that of course :) ), which so far as I can see is mainly supported by some Nokia phones and not a lot else? Certainly the list of compatible phones from VW is woefully short. Maybe that is why the demo car was conveniently short on this feature? Will be interested to know when you do test it.


April 3, 2009, 2:31 am

That was good to read, I normally get my car addiction fix from Evo magazine but that hit the spot. I wasn't sure about the Car Tech category but I am starting to warm to it. To be fair I haven't read the other car reviews yet (to qualify that statement). Riyad seems we have similar car selection criteria, the structural rigidity comment and owning a 197 - I get that! I miss my 182 and would love to switch back to something of the same calibre. For now I would like to see how premium brand Audi stacks up against this car since you rate the audio kit in it so highly.

One more comment if I may, If this is a review why is there no rating? I know you are not reviewing the car out-right but it would seem appropriate for some type of value/design/feature rating structure for the tech.


April 3, 2009, 5:21 pm

@Martin Daler - Thanks for the SDHC info. Just to make it clear, I wasn’t going by spec sheet or anything, I actually tried using an SDHC card and the system wouldn’t read it, and there was nothing wrong with the card.

I also have to agree that telling the difference between a high bit rate lossy encode and a lossless encode in a car that’s driving would be difficult.

The info on the Bluetooth option is also very useful, and hopefully I’ll be able to test that out for myself soon. I simply don’t understand why car manufacturers don’t just go with a standard Bluetooth hands-free profile so that any phone will work!

@DEB - Comparison with Evo? That’s quite promising to hear this early on. I’ll bet you miss your 182, I felt the same way when I let my Focus RS go a few years back, which is why the new one is looking so tempting!

By sheer coincidence, Audi dropped off a car to me today, but unfortunately it’s not fitted with the B&O stereo system. I’ll be looking at a car with that as soon as I can though. Likewise, I’m looking forward to testing the Bowers & Wilkins system that Jaguar uses.

As for the lack of ratings, I’m surprised that no one has mentioned this before. Basically, I decided that it would be very difficult to score the cars, since the specification and level of equipment can be so vastly different between models. You can’t break the scores up into categories, since sometimes you won’t get a loan vehicle with all the tech in it - as was the case with the Scirocco, which had no Bluetooth support.

In the end I decided that we would write each review as an evaluative assessment for the reader to get a better understanding of all the technology inside a car, and whether it’s what they’re looking for. Of course I’d love to be reviewing the car as a whole, with the tech being just part of the equation, but we felt it best to keep the focus in line with the rest of the site, for now at least :)


April 3, 2009, 9:18 pm

Hmmm, I can foresee a tyre technology test in the not too distant future...which which will just so happen to necessitate ragging the t*ts off a Focus RS around Brands Hatch all day on lots of different rubber :-)

In all seriousness, I like the car tech section - I think it's a good addition to the site. The other stuff, like how the car drives, handles etc is already well covered by experts in that area, and it's good to see the tech getting the same treatment from the experts in this area. The sheer 'usefulness' & implementation of the technology between makes & models varies hugely, and in some cases could be the decider on a purchase.


April 3, 2009, 10:44 pm

@ChrisC - now that sounds like a great idea - I do love Brands as a circuit too :) I was actually throwing the new Cayman around Porsche’s new facility at Silverstone last week, but unfortunately it had nothing to do with TR, so I won’t be writing it up.

You’re right about the technology and options being the deciding factor for some buyers, which is one of the reasons we decided to kick the section off. What’s interesting is that some manufacturers have said that their customers are more interested in the tech and options than how the car drives.

Steve 15

April 11, 2009, 12:42 am

I think the car tech section is a great idea, as it is often difficult to decide on the merits of many of the expensive options available.

I recently ordered a new Scirocco 2.0 TSi in candy white as a replacement for my Nissan 350Z 313bhp coupe (temper orange tends to attract the wrong kind of attention, and my first baby just arrived, but still you can imagine the amount of nagging it took from the other half to get rid of my orange baby). I really don't like hatchbacks in terms of style, so the Scirocco came around at just the right time.

I didn't go with the sat nav-enabled stereo on this review car - I went with the standard one, which apart from no sat nav or hard drive is otherwise identical and features a 6-CD changer in-dash and iPod and USB connections. My Garmin sat nav has 7 digit post code support. Upgrading to the sat nav version loses the CD changer, while adding the optional changer then loses the iPod and USB connectors. All for about �. Sticking with the standard one seemed like the best decision. I will just stick a small self-powered USB hard drive in the aux compartment laden with MP3s.

You may be interested to know that the iPod connector seems to work with the iPod Touch, but not the iPhone. I plugged it in on my test drive and a message came up on the screen telling me the device was incompatible. A major shame, as I'm told the touch screen in the console can be used to navigate the iPod library.

I did specify the Bluetooth option as well as the parking sensors. I wonder how well that will integrate with the iPhone. The 350Z's Bluetooth features voice dialling but no contacts sharing.


April 16, 2009, 10:36 pm

@Steve - pretty much anything that you plug the iPhone into comes up with that message, but it doesn't stop it from working. There are very few peripherals that actually carry “made for iPhone” branding, but that’s changing slowly.

The Scirocco must feel a bit soft to you after the 350Z, but then it's not an out and out driver's car. My wife is just about to give birth to our second, which means I’ll have trouble getting the family into at least one of my cars. I still won’t be getting rid of it though :)

Steve 15

April 20, 2009, 4:25 pm

@Riyad - great to know that the iPhone should work with the stereo in that case!

I have done some research and apparently the factory-fit Bluetooth option only supports phones with the RSAP Bluetooth protocol, i.e. not very many and certainly not the iPhone!

To be honest I was looking for a softer ride. Got to keep the other half happy... I'd love to keep both and have the 350Z for my own weekend use, ah well. I think it should keep me happy once I have it remapped to 270bhp which is what the "R' version is rumoured to be tuned to.

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