back to article VW's Scirocco diesel: A sheep in Wolfsburg’s clothing

Car buffs of a certain age will remember how the great motoring writer L. J. K Setright loved the Scirocco Mk I Storm. To those who loved engineering prowess, the Scirocco was something special. Even if the brakes were a bit shoddy. But the Scirocco Diesel here is a very different beast; this is a car for my friend Michael. …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what.

  2. Dr_N


    The Golf's ugly sister.

    Who likes to wear very loud fluorescent colors like green or yellow.

    1. GitMeMyShootinIrons


      Scirocco's dull, practical, humdrum sister for those who's budget doesn't stretch to an Audi A3.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Golf:

        Wow, I might have heard it all, an Audi A3 as exciting. If I was buying German, I'd buy a BMW ... for an everyday car anyway.

        Problem with Volkswagens, even the hot ones, is they are too civilised. I test drove a Scirocco R a few years ago and found it to be extremely fast, but had absolutely no joy to it in terms of being a performance car, it was way too quiet, it made no noise at all. I know there is a culture of a bahnstormers but jebus, it was soulless.

        1. 0laf Silver badge

          Re: Golf:

          That's the story with most warmed over 'ordinary' cars. They're big and heavy so despite the big hp figures there really isn't much nimbleness or urge about them. They make 100mph feel like 50.

          Sticking on fat low profiles and rock hard suspension might make the car look nice but it can make them a miserable place to be on the crap roads we have now.

          The ads make out you'll be driving a Caterham when the reality is closer to a Iveco.

          But then most drivers only like the fantasy of driving properly, they don't really want a car that might bite them if they get it wrong.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Golf:

        What??? On a company car price list the Scirocco is directly in line with the A3. I'm on my second Scirocco and drive a GTS it's very capable and very quick. An A3 is for the dull middle aged guy who things they are driving a cool car. Been in both and the A3 is very plastic inside and creaks.

    2. teabag36

      Re: Scirocco:

      A tedious Golf coupe with as much charisma as an East German caravan site. Yawn.

    3. hopkinse

      Re: Scirocco: - once upon a time........

      things were different. the golf was an ugly wee box and the scirocco was much easier on the eye. Once they got the rust problems largely sorted in the late 70s, they were great cars. I had a MKII Storm ( metallic brown - ah the 80s! ) that I loved because it was so easy to work on, most of the parts were the same as a golf, i.e. cheap, and it had decent legroom in the front. Was just a pity they didn't do a turbo Quattro version :-) Had to switch badges for that pleasure

  3. jason 7

    Looks like...

    a Golf that's been put in the microwave for 30 seconds.

    1. NogginTheNog

      Re: Looks like...

      ...or stood on by the Jolly Green Giant!

  4. petur


    Still waiting for it to get banned....

    1. chekri

      Re: Diesel

      Well that would would do wonders for your economy, good luck with that.

    2. Piro Silver badge


      Ah yes, all those pesky lorries moving goods and quite literally making our modern lifestyle possible.

      Better instantly stop them being used on an ill conceived whim!

    3. Dr_N

      Re: Diesel

      The French government (a major DERV backer for many years through manufacturer incentives and lower taxation on cars & fuel) has finally realised what a blight private DERVs are.

      They'll be de-incentivizing them in the next 5 years. Hopefully it will spread from there.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Diesel

        In France Diesel is a lot cheaper than petrol. So can you really see the French government lowering the cost of petrol?

      2. HKmk23

        Re: Diesel

        When Hollande and his leftie cronies are history after the next election we shall all be back behind our cheap to run never go wrong oil burners......or we shall be lighting tyres on the autoroutes.......

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Diesel

      It's got the most energy of all fuels. Hence its efficiency and lower CO2 output.

      1. Dr_N

        Re: Diesel

        "It's got the most energy of all fuels. Hence its efficiency and lower CO2 output."

        You've missed the point, AC#1.

        DERV use may result in lower CO2 emissions, but all the other nasty pollutants have increased as a result and people are now realising that choking themselves may not be the best course of action.


        "In France Diesel is a lot cheaper than petrol. So can you really see the French government lowering the cost of petrol?"

        Why would you think they'd reduce tax on petrol use, AC#2 ?!

        DERV prices have been rising steadily over the last 5 years in France as has been been putting more on gazole, not decreasing tax on essence.

  5. Bloakey1

    Breaks, Grrrrrrr.

    I have a few cars and my favourite is a VW Passat. Brilliant car but the electronic brake is a festering pile of pooh. I recently spent 1000.00 Euros having it sorted by VW dealer over here. He insisted it was the caliper with me insisting it was not. Anyway I took it out of the garage in disgust and sorted the problem out myself. Ironically (bring it back on topic) it was the on board computer that needed rebooting, job done and for 0.00 Euros and 4 minutes of my time.

    Bloody computers!

  6. JBJB

    any article mentioning LJK Setright is a good thing but he should buy the classless Golf or something a lot more interesting. Whenever making engineering choices I ask myself "what would Setright do?" :-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      what would Setright do

      I decided Setright could do no wrong when he reviewed a moped, of all things, and remarked that 16 year olds should be at home doing their maths homework and violin practice, not tooling around on things like that.

  7. The Onymous Coward

    "The lines are important" - In that case, why buy one of the most awkward-looking cars on the road, in the least imaginative colour?

    Not sure why you're bothering with these car reviews, they read like spec-sheets. Surely you can think of something better to use as filler?

    1. david bates

      Agreed - that pretty much told us nothing. A complete waste of time.

    2. Mick Stranahan


      I didn't know the Reg was sending goons around to people's homes at the weekend to make them read these articles.

      1. The Onymous Coward

        Re: Crikey...

        No goons here. I'm a car guy. I read the reg. I see a car article on the reg, so I read it. It's rubbish; I comment. What's wrong with that?

  8. returnmyjedi

    Of all the cars I've "owned" (quite a few company cars over the years) I have never had as many issues as I had with the Sirocco. And I've owned a fair few Italian ones. If it wasn't the DSG pissing oil all over my drive it was electric window cradle seizing up. If it wasn't the power steering failing it was the xenons blowing when only a couple of months old. And as for the TDi engine: Reminded me of the Granada diesel my old man had in the 80s.

    Thankfully all work was covered by warranty and my local VW garage were excellent but the mechanics were very open about the innumerable issues affecting any VAG car based upon the Golf Mark V platform. And sure enough within a couple of months of me swapping the Sciricco Put me off quality German engineering for life.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      The DSG will be OK in a few years when VW have finished developing it. And lightened it a bit.

      Maybe if they give it to some Japanese auto-engineers it stands a chance of being finished inside this decade.

      BTW VAG ? Is this a pre 1992 car when the company still used VAG as its global name? VWs were actually pretty reliable back then (relative to their contemporary peers).

      1. returnmyjedi

        By VAG I was referring to any car made by the Volkswagen Audi Group, ie Seat, Skoda and the eponymous marques. Wouldn't say no to a Lambo oR Bugatti.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          There isn't a "Volkswagen Audi Group", only a Volkswagen Group. Back when they used "VAG", they studiously avoided explaining what it stood for...

          1. Hepie

            VAG = Volkwagen Aktien Gesellschaft, which is something like "Volkswagen Public Limited Company".

        2. werdsmith Silver badge

          "By VAG I was referring to any car made by the Volkswagen Audi Group, ie Seat, Skoda and the eponymous marques. Wouldn't say no to a Lambo oR Bugatti."

          Maybe you mean VW Aktiengesellschaft, but there's no Volkswagen Audi Group. Just Volkswagen Group. VAG as a global identifier was dropped in 1992, there was a rumour that an American woman complained it was an anatomical reference.

      2. Twilight Turtle


        Your gripe should probably be with Borg-Warner, as they build the various DSG boxen (apart from the Veyron one) for VW and a few other marques AFAIK. The six-speed wet-clutch one is supposed to fairly reliable when serviced properly but the mean failure rates for the earlier 7-speed dry-clutch ones seem to be a bit more worrying. Think there was a recall on over 1.5 million cars equipped with that box...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Psst...

          This. To quote a VW motor mechanic "I used to think they were bullet proof..."

          Toyota, it is worth noting, are extending the power range of their AISIN CVTs. The CVT has less to go wrong and the efficiency is getting pretty good.

  9. Mick Stranahan

    Wrong colour

    I preferred the red one you reviewed back in 2011...

  10. 8Ace

    So what...

    It's just a Skoda Octavia/Seat Leon/VW Golf/VW Beetle/Audi A3/Audi TT (arranged in increasing order of dullness).

    Styling is typically German .. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    And as for Diesel, commercial use should be left alone, personal use should be hammered financially. Breathable air seems more important to me than CO2 and anyway turbo petrol is getting better each year.

  11. joed

    forbidden fruit

    no Sirocco on this side of the pond but the new Golf does look decent (Sirocco looks better). I was recently looking at 3 door Golf (just about all other "boats" out here come in disgusting 4 door flavor;) and liked it but the manual gearbox let me down somewhat and brakes lacked modulation (all this could be just because I only took just a brief test drive). Anyway, I'll have a look again at CRZ that had much better manual feel (but in practicality it's nowhere near Golf).

    GTI? - not with the garish wheels it comes with (and appetite for premium gas). And then there's this legendary VW reliability (you can't get it all I guess). Any suggestions, opinions, alternatives (sporty looks, reliability and practicality, performance - not essential but driving feel definitely).

    1. Steven Raith

      Re: forbidden fruit

      Fiesta ST.

      Bit smaller, equally classless (even in the US I understand) and other than the engine, not too much silly whizzbang tech for the sake of it.

      I believe Ford still provide a proper brake pedal, too - you know, one that has some degree of feel rather than making you faceplant the windscreen at the slightest brush.

      I occasionally drive modern cars and find them all to be a bit hateful - my fifteen year old shonky shitter might have some bodywork rust and require it's bushes changing more often, but at least it has steering and brake feel - and a real handbrake for childishness in empty car parks.

      Fuck modern cars. They're all shit until I drive a good one, at which point they're awsume ;-)

      Steven R

  12. Skyraker

    Mitsubishi GTO

    1. Steven Raith

      Good Lord no.

      Doesn't handle, doesn't go, it's just a slow, splodgy exercise in how not to make a fast coupe.

      Unless you like to understeer everywhere while getting no better than 24mpg?

      An RX7 would be a far more elegant choice, although you do have to take a deep breath at the petrol pumps, but at least it looks good (bloody fantastic actually - shows what the japanese can do when they aren't aping europe as they used to back in the 90s) and handles terribly well to offset that terrifying fuel economy.

      Also mighty tunable.

      Friends don't let friends buy Mitsubishi GTOs. Bit like Corsas and Vectras.

      Steven R

  13. b 3


    a "0-62 time of 8.6 seconds" is "not quick"? grow up.

    1. Roadcrew

      Re: wot?

      Well, it's "not quick" for a 2+2 with that amount of horsepower (148bhp) and truly stonking torque (250 ft-lbs), not to mention the ridiculous price - but yes, 8.6 seconds is more than enough to keep up with the traffic!

      The reason for the missing performance is the serious obesity - a ton and a half.

      What? That's two 5-door 5-seat Maestros.

      I could not claim that Austin-Rover production quality was even... err... adequate?

      But our rusty, rattly, but beloved A-series Maestro HL was no porker, and this VW clearly is.

      What a pity.

      Nice to see a reference to the truly mighty Leonard Setright. Great chap.

      1. TheRealRoland

        Re: wot?

        You want safety? You then need to buy current cars; think about the reinforcement needed to pass all these pesky tests of driving into poles, pieces of concrete, lorries, bigger cars, etc.

        You want lightweight cars? Buy Chinese or 20 year old cars.

        I wonder what the Austin Maestro will look like, when hit by a current car, head on.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: wot?

        Maestro/Montego - some models had a gearbox sourced from VW. IIRC, the casing was similar to a 020 Golf gearbox

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Re: wot?

      It isn't.

      I have had quicker accelerating cars, one a sportyish hatch, the other a 4 door saloon.

      One of them was an Avenger based hatch back. 8 sec 0 - 60 (timed) from 1600cc

      The other was a German built luxobarge with an engine from Merseyside (under 8 sec timed)

      Lets just say that the 1970s car is still one of the best handling cars I have driven.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Scirocco was never pretty

    And it still isn't, which is one of the reasons why it's sales are so dismal. Not sure how VW maintenance and repair costs are across the pond but they kill U.S. sales after the initial new car ownership wears off. The VW Diesel (and petrol) engines are very good, reliable and fuel efficient engines. The DSG in my experience works very well and is the preferred choice for many. Build quality even of German produced models along with the unsavory dealership experience from most U.S. VW dealers continues to cost VW sales and repeat business..

    1. Gary Bickford

      Re: The Scirocco was never pretty

      Yes. Over here in US, VW runs a 'Sign and Drive' promotion roughly once per year - it's basically a zero down lease, to get you into a car with minimum hassle. But I have talked with numerous people, both mechanics and non-mechanics, and every one of them has said the maintenance and parts will kill you. Some have personal experience, others probably just heard it from someone else. But somehow VW and their US dealer network have successfully convinced everyone in the US that while they're nice cars, they're way too expensive to keep.

      Some marques have been successful having expensive parts and labor, but a reputation for "never" having to be repaired. VW doesn't balance the latter part of that equation.

      (A famous anecdote - back in the 1970s or thereabouts, a musician had a Rolls-Royce, whose transmission blew up while he was driving across Arizona. He called the Rolls people. They paid for his flight to LA and shipped the car when it was ready. Later he called them, asking what the bill for repairs was. They said, "There is no bill. Rolls-Royce automobiles don't break down."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Scirocco was never pretty

        That anecdote about Rolls-Royce is so famous it dates back pre-War. That's pre-WW1. The venue was supposedly in France. And the original punchline was "Sir, you must be mistaken. We have no record of any repairs. Rolls-Royce crankshafts never break."

  15. Gene Cash Silver badge


    What the hell is that? Dick's Sporting Goods? Dakota Supply Group?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: DSG?

      @Gene Cash

      IF U 404 DSG, RTFM.

      1. Grade%

        Re: DSG?

        Since I understood that, well, good deed, all that: DSG: Direct Shift Gearbox. I kept thinking, diesel? Diesel what? Pah!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: DSG?

      DSG = A sorry excuse of a gearbox for those who love a manual gearbox.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: DSG?

      Clutchless gear change system.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: DSG?

        No, not a clutchless gear change system. That would be the AISIN CVT, which has a CVT belt and a torque converter. DSG has two clutches, one for each side of the automated gearbox. Clever, complex, expensive to maintain and repair.

  16. LINCARD1000

    We had a 2.0 diesel Scirocco back in 2010 and it was actually a great car to bomb around in. Hell, we took it on a 5 week driving holiday all around Europe (got some strange looks having a Norwegian plated vehicle in southern and eastern parts though). Yeah, the ride was a little rough in its 'sport' (hah!)mode but it was comfortable enough on both long and short trips otherwise. Was well built also.

    Have to say that the stated top speed is about right... we got ours up to 211 kph on the German autobahn which isn't bad for a 2L automatic diesel :-) Probably could have got it a little faster given a bit more time in the fast lane but we kept getting aggressive and impatient Audi and Merc drivers crawling over our arses.

    Horses for courses... it's looks are divisive (people either like or hate it) and it's effectively a Golf, but I liked it and enjoyed driving it. Although not so much on Italian roads - it's quite wide and Italian roads/drivers aren't known for being courteous or forgiving.

  17. 45RPM Silver badge

    I loved my Scirocco. It was a 1982 GT in Mars red with Pirelli Alloys. It was fast for its day, but slow compared with this new version. Thing is, speed isn't everything - and I haven't found a modern car yet that isn't dull to drive. Too many safety gadgets have spoiled the fun. I don't deny that the gadgets are a good and worthy innovation, of course, responsible for saving many lives - but I rather enjoy the frisson of fear that comes with a car that has a tendency to seek out the nearest tree if one happens to over cook a corner.

    To that end I put the kids in a staid and boring modern estate, and myself in a 1959 GT car. That way the future is assured even if my sorry arse isn't.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Nice looking Sirocco

      Was a late 80s one a workmate used to own.

  18. VulcanV5

    One of the finest car reviews never written.

    It would be as well for us all if El Reg left motoring reviews to motoring reviewers: what on earth is this gibberish about? Citing wholly fictitious manufacturer-listed fuel consumption figures as though they're meaningful is absurd; clearly, the reviewer never drove this car and thus hasn't a clue what its real-world consumption actually is. Null points all round.

  19. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

    Doesn't stop Scirocco drivers...

    driving up my exhaust on the M6 (I'll admit to going near 80mph)

    Had a 5yr old Mark 2 Golf once. Was crap; front window [manual] winder mechanism broke on both windows; twice

    Clutch failed; twice in 2 years [I've not replaced clutch in any of my 180,000 plus cars]

    Steering rack boots needed replacing every year [split]

    Auto choke used to flood engine on motorway runs after 30miles and rev engine out of engine bay at startup. VAG dalers failed 6 attempts to fix (and >£700). Strange that my BMW 3.18 with the same base carburettor *with additional feature of fuel cutoff on throttle lift off* worked perfectly.

    Sold it fast as possible after 3 years of pain

    Anyway back to this paragon of German engineering and reliability. the only real question is does it require a trip to the dealer to change a [non-xenon] headlight bulb?

    If yes; it's not fit for road use

  20. davidp231

    The new Scirocco Diesel.

    Berlin to Warsaw in one tank.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: The new Scirocco Diesel.

      I see what you did there.

  21. fnj
    Thumb Up

    Love of my young life

    I'm going to "heartily" disagree with various goofballs here. The Mk I late-70s Giugiaro-designed Scirocco was a visual orgasm. It was heartbreakingly beautiful. I felt a little funny "down there" every time I glanced at it in the driveway. It also only weighed 900 kg, and 76 hp drove it with gusto.

    You could turn it into a supercar for peanuts. Throw in GTI springs, Bilsteins, and 205-60 Pirelli P7's on 13x6's in place of the stock 175-70 Contis on 13x5's and you had a Ferrari handler. But you could tell the difference between heads and tails when rolling over a dime. Fact.

    You can still play the same handling games with the Golf, even though you're battling far too much pork, like any of the current depleted-uranium slugs on wheels. For me it's a Mk IV TDI, and Bilstein PSS-9 adjustable coilovers are the secret sauce. It's quite possible I have the only PSS-9 TDI on the road; certainly in the US.

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