VW might just be getting out of control. Not content with world domination in terms of sales, it seems to be abusing its power. How the hell can it make a stunning car like the Scirocco and then tell the U.S. en masse we'll never get it? Especially when the likes of Oettinger can turn it into this front-drive supercar.
I wasn't even born when the original hit the shelves in 1974, the time of swinging bell bottoms and sexual boundaries, but while the clothes have gone, come again and hopefully now gone forever, the Scirocco remained throughout an ice-cool car and the name retained such power that VW brought it back with a huge fanfare through the IROC concept that morphed into the new Scirocco in 2008.
Once again this is the Golf that gets you laid. Even in R trim it is a good-looking coupe with a turn of speed rather than a real force to be reckoned with. But that's what tuners are for and Oettinger's simple addition of a new turbo, intercooler, and software remap it perfected on the Golf has resulted in a 300-hp front-driver that once again lets the Scirocco punch well above its weight.
Small cars have gotten steadily bigger and more expensive. The Scirocco is the smart executive's car now, rather than the rebellious teenager's, and it wouldn't be caught dead sharing a bong at a music festival. I could kind of see that happening with the bottle green MkII we bought along for the ride.
It's not as cool as the MkI, but at least it shows how far the Scirocco has come. Just look at the older car and you're conjured back to a blocky, square, straight-edged world of Pacman, Casio digital watches, and Brat Pack films. Duran Duran and glam rock topped the charts and long hair and neon seemed reasonable attire for both sexes.
There are some lasting travesties of the '80s. But even with its '80s angles and straight edges, though, the Karmann-produced Scirocco still looks well proportioned and more than a touch stronger than it really is. Inside, it's a mass of square plastic instrument panels and tartan seats that betray its age, and with a turn of the flat key the rasping, coarse, 140-hp powerplant rattles the single-pipe exhaust.
The pedals feel loose and there's an inch or two of dead play in the throttle before the cable takes the strain. Around town it's tough, the steering is heavy, and it doesn't feel quite as sporting as its image suggests. Chasing after the car in front takes a changedown, screaming revs and ramming the loud pedal through the bulkhead.
The brakes, meanwhile, are wooden, unhelpful, and a reminder of how far technology has come. But despite all of this, it's fun, and it takes me back to my teenage years thrashing the guts out of random cheap econobox hatches.
Crash protection, sound insulation and refinement weren't so big in the '80s. The older Scirocco weighs 2,160 pounds, 700 less than the modern car, so you can throw it into bends and feel for the grip transmitted through the skinny tires. It's a return to actual driving.
If it's a car, not a tank, it shouldn't need massive power, and this intimacy, this closeness to the road, just can't happen in today's cars outside of the Caterham class. Old VWs have a massive following for a reason and though the car isn't fast by any credible yardstick, it puts a smile on your face. And it's only the starter; the ice white main course is waiting and warm.
First you just have to drink in the new Scirocco's smooth curves, aided and abetted by Oettinger's stylists. This is modern-day car porn, a stunning basic shape that screams feelgood factor and sporting intent, as well as looking just a little like a Stormtrooper's helmet. It's Gran Turismo 5 next to the MkII's Outrun.
It's a tight, compact shape, yet muscular, and the Oettinger skirts, front and rear lips, together with the 19-inch matte black wheels, add just a finishing touch of muscular definition.