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Volkswagen Scirocco


Volkswagen's Scirocco might be a toned-down version of the original concept car, but it's still a sexy-looking vehicle, and not just compared to the brand's usually safe tailoring

That's a deliberate ploy to attract younger buyers to a badge which long ago lost the funky flavouring the original Beetle briefly imparted.

Drive the car, and you realise Scirroco's got more going for it than just its good-looking three-door suit, with its fat haunches beneath that low, swooping cabin emphasized by the narrow windows and the broad, wolfish grin of the new grille.

The car's underpinnings are loosely based on Golf, but Scirroco is much bigger - 40mm longer and 50mm wider for starters. More significant is the 97mm drop in height combined with wider track - up by 59mm at the rear.

The result is not only a purposeful stance but better handling. Scirocco gets the same basic suspension set-up as Golf, but its low, wide stance helps her corner flat, and she's nimble enough for a sporting approach to bends without compromising everyday comfort on even our lumpier roads.

I haven't yet driven the 2.0-litre turbo - the car doesn't launch until April 15, after all. I do know it's not new, and neither is the 1.4-litre supercharged turbo of my test car, though its mating with this seven-speed DSG transmission is a first.

The little engine sounds innocuous enough while cruising, but by golly does it pick up and go. This tech uses the supercharger to deliver more power at low revs, with the turbo picking up as rpm rises so there's boost almost anywhere you want it. Peak torque arrives at 1500rpm and stays on song to 4500rpm. Forget the 118kW, 5800rpm power peak - the torque's the story, rocketing the Scirroco into and out of corners with the sort of verve few 1.4s can dream of, the transmission flicking through the gears to keep you in that sweet spot. You'll change manually only when tapping down for a tight corner - upchanges are briskly effected just as you're twitching to do it yourself.

That same transmission assists the car to decent fuel economy in relaxed mode too, my commutes not far off VW's 6.4l/100km claim.

And it's during those daily commutes that you appreciate the rest of the car; the comfy seats with their generous side bolsters; the triangular door handles that deliver a visual flourish to lift the otherwise restrained cabin; the pair of well-shaped rear pews.

There are compromises of course. Taller folk will take care when clambering in and out, though head-room's generous enough once you're in the front seats. The boot lip will prove awkward on those few occasions you do carry that heavy suitcase. And the rear seats aren't suited to children or long trips as the narrow windows compromise the view out.

Frankly, singles or couples won't care. They'll have a sweet-handling hottish hatch capable of frugal daily commutes and weekend fun; a car that looks sexy yet doesn't cost as much as those looks suggest, with VW estimating a $50,000 start price when it launches on April 1 alongside the new, Gen VI Golf which also gets that wide-mouthed face.

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