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2010 Volkswagen Scirocco R - Fast Forward

Not Coming To America- But We Can Dream

Matt Davis
Apr 15, 2010

First Drive
I can come up with no satisfying reasons for why Volkswagen of North America and its dealers don't want to bring the "VW364" third-generation Scirocco to these shores to duke it out with the lukish-hot Minis et al. But, you see, I think with my heart and penis-and frequently, to my shame, not in that order. I'd be a lousy keeper of the business-case ledger in Wolfsburg.

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Compounding my torture, the VW home office in "Golfsburg" just let me drive the on-fire 2010 Volkswagen Scirocco R. Mommy, hold me.

Would bringing over a 207-hp Scirocco 2.0 GT trim and this 261-hp Scirocco R really conflict with Golf/GTI sales when VW states plans to sell four times more cars here within a decade? Would this insanely sexy hot coupe not lend some significant image boosting to the still-weak North American customer awareness of the brand?

A 100-mile ripping dash over and around the rally-perfect mountains of southern France in the Scirocco R brought tears to the eyes and hushed all outcries of crappy dealer service; all things considered, it's most likely the best front-wheel-drive compact street racer of this size and configuration yet. And it's as useful, sexier, and gobs faster than any MINI John Cooper Works or your tinny and un-sexy Mazdaspeed3.

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The D-roads of the Alpes-Maritimes are where any performance car eventually needs to show up in order to make certain that it can live up to its own marketing. Not even the legendary G-roads of California's Monterey County come close, and the Nürburgring is a thrill, but not even it can stack up to the endless challenges the loopy Provençals French decided to pave all those decades ago. And there are regularly no gendarmes in sight and rarely anything resembling traffic.

A 208-hp JCW or 207-hp GTI is excellent fun and on separate occasions I've driven each like bats from hell over these exact roads. The Scirocco R simply beats both in dynamics, transitions, and speed while being even better put together and having honest room for four thrill seekers.

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Having 261 hp up between 5100 and 6000 rpm plus 258 lb-ft of torque on full between 2500 and 5000 rpm on a tightly engineered 2,963-pound car (with manual; 3,007 with DSG automatic) right away presages good things. Then with the heady combination of optional Dynamic Chassis Control dialing in the drive to meet wishes and conditions and the standard XDS electronic front differential program launched with the Golf VI GTI, gone are any understeer or torque-steer tendencies. Where I want to point and go, and with how much throttle, is rendered a piece of cake, the Scirocco R doing exactly what I have in mind through every hard-scrabble hairpin uphill or down.

For the Scirocco R, the "ESP Off" indicator actually means ESP Sport. In the most extreme setting, ESP never goes off, but thank goodness that in this slightly misrepresented Sport mode the ESP intervenes extremely late and with a smoothness that helps rather than hinders the driving action.

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There's the tailgate VW badge that doesn't act as an opening lever. You cannot open the hatch by reaching for the hatch, which is definitely dopey no matter the explanation. And looking at the 2.0-liter TSI engine, I go flaccid since VW chose not to glam up the view with at least red enameled "VW" and "TSI" lettering. Even wee old Seat does it in Spain with their Leon Cupra R using the exact same powertrain.

When buyers go for the optional six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic, everything is great, except that even in the Manual mode and with the DCC set for Sport excitement, at a flea's hair from the 7000-rpm redline the transmission will shift itself up to the next gear. It rarely happens, but it can squelch the festivities when it does. I longed in these moments for a six-speed manual.

Whatever- the Scirocco in R trim, inspired by the 2009 Scirocco GT 24 racers that dominated their class at the Nürburgring 24 Hours, just plain cranks. The R-specific exhaust makes a good enough sound, too, and optional handsome 8x19 "Talladega" design wheels (18-inch is standard) with Bridgestone Potenza treads never once blew their chance to hook up even at peak boost. The 13.6-inch front and 12.2-inch diameter rear brake discs with black enameled calipers did a great job all day long under sincere hammering.

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With the DCC option, which monitors steering assistance, damper firmness, and throttle response, it all works as advertised, and even better when in Sport mode where the R's electromechanical steering takes on the PQ35 chassis' tightest feel. The Scirocco's center of gravity is already low-overall height is three inches less than a GTI-but the R setup takes it a half inch lower still. Working with Porsche Engineering in Weissach (it's all in the family now), Wolfsburg added 30 percent stiffer springs than on base Sciroccos (still less stiff than on the new GTI though) and slightly softer sway bars, resulting in a brilliant balance between rigidity and comfort.

Indulging and staying in the higher revs, the R scoots to 60 mph in an estimated 5.9 seconds via the manual six and in 5.7 seconds with the DSG using 3200-rpm launch control. Conrods, the header and its bolts have all been beefed up accordingly to handle all this drama, too.

Cosmetically, the Scirocco R gets you larger front chin intakes and integrated front spoiler, a black rear diffuser and mirror housings, more pronounced rear spoiler and side sills in body color, smoked rear light lenses, bi-xenon headlamps, the chromed dual exhaust, black calipers, and Talladega wheels. Inside, the seats get sportier and wear a standard "Kyalami" cloth look, there are brushed-aluminum accents, the steering wheel is from the Golf VI GTI, and R logos are a-bloom. Besides the R tuned powertrain, the XDS front differential action is standard, as are the stiffer springs and third level of Sport steering should one opt for the DCC system. Broad-shouldered ultimate motorsport seats as offered on the R32 and GTI go on the options list come June.

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Though the EA113 2.0 TSI is not from the most recent four-cylinder family, it is, according to VW, the version best suited to sit in the pumped '10 Scirocco R. The newer-version EA888 2.0 TSI for now can be found in the 208-hp Scirocco and the Golf VI GTI, as well as the super-proto GT24 Nürburgring endurance cars. This EA113 can also be found in the upcoming 266-hp Golf R with latest-generation Haldex four-wheel drive. It's that Golf R that will most likely make its way over to North America to lay all R32 V6 sentimentality to rest.

In the first two weeks of taking orders for the Scirocco R, more than 1,500 units were reserved and paid for. The manual transmission take rate has been 30 percent.

But why should I care? We're not getting it. Lower Saxon tough love is what it is.

2010 VW Scirocco R

Transverse front engine, front-wheel drive

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2.0-liter I4, dohc, 16-valve, turbocharged

Six-speed manual; optional six-speed DSG automated manual

McPherson struts with Sachs dampers and 15% stiffer Mubea springs, lower wishbone control arms (f), Sachs/Mubea setup with four-link scheme (r); anti-roll bars (f/r)

Four-piston aluminum monoblock calipers front/rear; 13.6-inch inner ventilated steel discs (f), 12.2-inch ventilated rotors (r) MSRP: $30,000 (est.)

Peak Power: 261 hp @ 6000 rpm
Peak Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
0-62 mph: 5.7 sec. (w/DSG)
Top Speed: 155 mph

By Matt Davis
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