Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/08/24/review_car_vw_scirocco_bluemotion_tdi_140/

VW Scirocco BlueMotion Technology TDI 140

A green GT for the working man

By Alun Taylor

Posted in Science, 24th August 2011 08:15 GMT

Review Style, practicality, economy and sporting performance - not necessarily aspects of the car makers’ art you would expect to find all combined in a single model. But that’s what you'll get with the arrival of a new generation of rather desirable but also extremely frugal diesel coupés from the likes of Renault and Volkswagen.

Its haunches give it a purposful stance

VW’s new planet-cuddling Scirocco is a "BlueMotion Technology" vechine rather than a true BlueMotion car. The latter is a distinction reserved for cars that have been environmentally fettled to within an inch of their lives with revised gear ratios and modified bodywork in a quest to improve fuel consumption and minimise noxious gas emissions.

Do that to a sports coupé and what you end up with won’t be much of a sports coupé any longer. Hence the 'BlueMotion lite' makeover.

VW has given the 2.0 litre turbo-diesel engine a quick once-over in the name of economy and fitted a start-stop system. The BlueMotion Technology pack also adds regenerative braking to help keep the battery charged for all that extra engine cranking.

The multifunction computer is another part of the package that has been eco-tuned. Now it suggests when to change up a gear in the interest of saving fuel.

Thankfully, what you don’t get are wind-cheating but ugly-as-sin wheel trims, low rolling-resistance tyres or bodywork changes that make your car look like something that was used in Children of Men so the Scirocco BM has the same coefficient of drag as the rest of the range: 0.34.

Volkswagen Scirocco BlueMotion Technology TDI 140

A bit globular from the rear?

The start/stop mechanics work a treat even with the six-speed manual gearbox my review car came fitted with. Once the ‘box is in neutral and the clutch out, the engine switches off. As soon as you depress the clutch, it fires back up.

Range extender

That said, the system flashed up an "unavailable" sign rather more often than I would have expected, perhaps a sign the battery was struggling to meet demand.

All those changes improve fuel consumption from 55.4mpg to 62.8mpg on the combined cycle, and lower CO2 emissions from 134g/km to 118g/km over the outgoing model. They also drop the BlueMotion Technology Scirocco down two tax brackets, into band C.

Volkswagen Scirocco BlueMotion Technology TDI 140

18in Interlagos alloys as standard

Get the Scirocco out on the motorway and even at a fair bit over the legal limit you will see mid-50s miles per gallon. Combine that with the 12-and-a-bit gallon fuel tank and a cruising range of 650 miles is on the cards, key to getting between points A and B quickly rather than wasting time queuing behind dunderheads buying their groceries at the petrol station.

The diesel four-pot is a little on the noisy side at start-up but soon settles down to a more smoother and more pleasant hum once it gets up to temperature. While it lacks the immediate thump-in-the-back of the 2.0 litre turbo petrol engines in the Scirocco range, it’s still a sufficiently solid performer.

With 138bhp on tap the 0-60 sprint takes a somewhat leisurely 9.3 seconds but the top speed is an autobahn-friendly 129mph. Once rolling, the Scirocco makes more of a sporting case for itself because the engine’s 236lb-ft (320Nm) of torque is spread evenly across the rev range and is available from 1750rpm.

Volkswagen Scirocco BlueMotion Technology TDI 140

VW family nose looks good on Scirocco

Pressing on in the Scirocco is all about surfing that wave of torque to surge past the inattentive and the timid. It’s something that’s made all the easier by the short throttle action and slick six-speed box. Why anyone would cough the up the extra £1300 for the semi-automatic DSG transmission is a mystery to me, especially as it actually reduces economy and increases CO2 emissions.

Underneath the Scirocco's curvaceous exterior - which I happen to like even though many folk think the back-end a bit bulbous – there is a fair bit of Golf GTi DNA and the odd bit of Passat - the rear axle, for instance - but there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of that.

Inside the VW Scirocco BlueMotion Technology TDI 140

Volkswagen Scirocco BlueMotion Technology TDI 140

The interior is nice, if a bit Golfy

Volkswagen Scirocco BlueMotion Technology TDI 140

Plenty of space for two six-footers in the back

Volkswagen Scirocco BlueMotion Technology TDI 140

Under the bonnet, an eco-tuned 2.0 litre diesel and stop.start

Volkswagen Scirocco BlueMotion Technology TDI 140

BlueMotion Tech = BlueMotion Lite

Hitting the sweet spot

The chassis is more than capable of dealing with the available power - after all, the Scirocco R has to cope with nearly 265bhp, though admittedly it has a more advanced electronic differential. Even without the trick diff there is still plenty of grip and the steering is very well balanced. In handling terms, it’s the best front-wheel drive diesel I’ve driven.

Volkswagen Scirocco BlueMotion Technology TDI 140

Frameless doors and a high boot sill

VW has also hit the sweet sport between handling and ride comfort, vital in a car that is as much an everyman GT as a sports car. Activated by a button on the centre console - in just the wrong place for those of us sitting on the right-hand side - the Adaptive Chassis Control lets you alter the damper and steering settings between Comfort and Sport with a Normal setting in between.

You really need to be paying attention to spot the differences between the three settings in everyday use so I’d suggest reserving Sport for track days, Comfort for motorway driving but otherwise leaving it in Normal.

Surprisingly, the Scirocco doesn’t suffer too much in comparison to the three-door Golf when it comes to internal space. The rear seats are very heavily sculptured so I was able to get all five-foot 11 of me in the back, pull the drivers seat into the usual place and still have an inch clear in front of my knees.

Volkswagen Scirocco BlueMotion Technology TDI 140

A good looker in the right colour

The boot is also deep and capacious, though it’s usefulness is hampered by a very high loading lip. The only real disappointment is that Bluetooth phone integration isn’t standard even with the optional 6.5in touchscreen satnav and entertainment system packages. If you want it - and, let’s face it, these days most drivers do - it’s a £250 option. It should come as standard fit across the range.

Verdict

RH Recommended Medal

After a week with the Scirocco BlueMotion Technology, I'm finding it difficult to come up with anything in the way of serious criticism. Despite being configured with high economy and low emissions in mind rather than out-and-out performance, the Scirocco is still an enjoyable car to drive. Yes, driving a turbo-diesel in a spirited manner on B-roads involves a little more in the way of forethought but that just makes it different from a petrol car, not worse. ®

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