The Re­ju­ve­na­tor

BRIAN BAS­SETT loses 30 years while driv­ing the new Volk­swa­gen Scirocco R

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

LAST week, I had the most en­joy­able time I’ve had with a car in a long while. It all started when Kevin Pil­lay, dealer prin­ci­pal at Baron’s in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg, lent me his per­sonal ve­hi­cle, a Volk­swa­gen Scirocco R, for a few days.

STYLING

The Scirocco is now in its third gen­er­a­tion fol­low­ing its launch in 2009.

It is a sports coupé aimed at buy­ers who go for ag­gres­sive styling.

The Scirocco R pro­vides this in spades, start­ing with those slit-eyed bi-Xenon head­lamps and large air in­take open­ings up front and con­tin­u­ing to the rear, where LED lights wrap around that gor­geous der­rière. Even the num­ber plate has soft LED light­ing.

On the sides, stream­lined door han­dles and colour-coded mir­rors sup­port the chic sporti­ness of the de­sign, which is punc­tu­ated on the Scirocco by the huge, 19-inch Cadiz al­loy wheels.

IN­TE­RIOR

Dark grey stitch­ing adds taste to the al­ready el­e­gantly black in­te­rior which is good enough to pose for its own selfie. The leather-cov­ered mul­ti­func­tion steer­ing wheel and alu­minum, tip­tronic gearshift are a plea­sure to op­er­ate. The steer­ing also op­er­ates an im­pres­sive eight-speaker, 400-Watt au­dio sys­tem con­sist­ing of a six-disc changer/MP3/ aux and ra­dio. Hav­ing tested the car in the dark, I can vouch all the gauges are eas­ily read­able while look­ing ahead.

When start­ing up, the lu­mi­nous rev and speed nee­dles make a quick flip to their max­i­mum po­si­tions, an old trick that still man­ages to add per­son­al­ity to the car each time you turn the key. The on­board com­puter scrolls through a wealth of in­for­ma­tion at the flick of a but­ton on the steer­ing wheel.

In a hood above the dash­board are three di­als which re­mind me of a Tri­umph TR3 I owned in the 1960s. Should you wish to keep an eye on your oil pres­sure, lap times or charge pres­sure while on the way to work; th­ese will al­low you to do so. The well-placed touch screen in the cen­tre of the dash­board op­er­ates a num­ber of in­for­ma­tion-linked and ra­dio func­tions, as well as the Park As­sist Func­tion, while a built-in DVD drive and stan­dard Blue­tooth tech­nol­ogy are avail­able on the ve­hi­cle and the RNS 510 Ra­dio. The cli­mate con­trol sys­tem is so­phis­ti­cated and ef­fec­tive, as well as easy to op­er­ate.

The rear seat space is quite ad­e­quate for two adults, even for the two some­what large adults I used to mea­sure it. The boot will take lug­gage for two for a week­end away, but should you need to add a set of golf clubs the rear seats fold down in 50:50 fash­ion, vir­tu­ally dou­bling the space avail­able.

SAFETY AND SE­CU­RITY

The Scirocco R has a 5-star NCAP rat­ing and just about ev­ery safety and se­cu­rity de­vice avail­able. Be­side the usual ABS and EBD the car has Hill Hold As­sist, an Anti Spin Reg­u­la­tor, Trac­tion Con­trol, Elec­tronic Sta­bil­ity Pro­gram and Trans­verse Dif­fer­en­tial Lock to men­tion but a few.

For the pas­sen­gers there are safety belts, rain sen­sors, Driver Fa­tigue De­tec­tion, Isofix at­tach­ments for new mums, side im­pact bars and six front and side airbags. The ve­hi­cle is also alarmed and locks re­motely.

PER­FOR­MANCE AND HAN­DLING

In the ini­tial two days the Scirocco R sat un­der my car­port, I drove it around town and on the N3 so I can tell you what I al­ready knew; namely that the steer­ing is pre­cise, the park­ing easy, the envy amus­ing and the ac­cel­er­a­tion from a work­ing traf­fic light in­vig­o­rat­ing.

On the N3 you can sail past ev­ery­thing from 60 to 100 and — if you don’t mind the fines — you can leave many more ex­pen­sive Ger­man cars stand­ing when that softly whistling turbo kicks in. But the high­way will not al­low you to touch the heart of the Sirocco R, which is that of a thor­ough­bred sports car.

To re­ally ex­pe­ri­ence this four-cylin­der, tur­bocharged 188 kW mo­tor, which can give you a 350 Nm lum­bar mas­sage that will make the nee­dle hover over 100 about six sec­onds, you need a few hair­pins and a de­cent straight.

There are not many tracks that are long enough to al­low such fun in safety, but in­vest the gate fee, for if you take the Scirocco R there, it will take you to a top speed of 250 km/h, re­main­ing at all times taut, tight and to­gether.

I spent an hour al­low­ing the Scirocco to ex­press it­self in con­di­tions for which it was de­signed. This re­ally is a car for the con­nois­seur, some­one who loves driv­ing as much as they love life.

The power is de­light­ful, the ex­haust note sym­phonic, the flappy pad­dles on the steer­ing im­me­di­ately re­spon­sive. The steer­ing it­self is di­rect and the cor­ner­ing — given this is a front wheel drive — su­perb. Af­ter an hour I found my­self smil­ing broadly, feel­ing 30 years younger and long­ing to own this car while en­vy­ing those who have one.

GUAR­AN­TEES, COSTS AND THE COM­PE­TI­TION

The Scirocco has a three-year 120 000 km war­ranty, a 12-year anti-cor­ro­sion war­ranty and a five-year 90 000 km ser­vice plan. The Scirocco R will cost you about R 490 000. Also have a look at the Re­nault Me­gane Coupé, the Opel As­tra GTC the Peu­geot RCZ and the BMW 2 Se­ries.

PHOTO: JONATHAN BUR­TON

Ex­hil­a­rat­ing: The Scirocco R looks good even when parked, but around cor­ners this car at all times re­mains taut, tight and to­gether even at very high speeds.

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