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.

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.

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 N├╝rburgring is a thrill, but not even it can stack up to the endless challenges the loopy Proven├žals 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.

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.

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.

Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!