Breezy RIDER

IN September last year I waxed poetic about the performance and handling of the 2.0 litre version of this car. It&rsquo;s a sublime drive, with oodles of torque and finesse and I was impressed. So much so that I thought that they would struggle to better it with the new Golf GTi. In my view, the Scirocco was a superior car. Admittedly, the GTi drive route was peppered with jammed traffic, roadworks et al but still.<br /><br />And now here I am in the 1.4 litre Scirocco, with the double-whammy of turbo and super charger on board. I heard it before I saw it and assumed there had been a mix up at the press garage. Unlikely, I thought, but it sounds so sonorous and deep that I suspected it to be the 2.0 litre back again. Wrong.<br /><br />Jump forward and I&rsquo;ve now had the car for a few days. It wasn&rsquo;t long before I found myself wondering why anybody would buy the 2.0 litre when the 1.4 offers almost the same performance. Well, that&rsquo;s how it feels.<br /><br /><strong>WILLING AND ABLE</strong><br />Obviously the figures say otherwise. There&rsquo;s a difference of 49bhp for a start but it&rsquo;s so willing and able you&rsquo;d have to question forking out the extra two grand for the bigger engine.<br /><br />The adaptive chassis control works just as well on this as the 2.0 litre, with the option of selecting Sport, Comfort or Normal. I spent most of my time in Normal mode but I didn&rsquo;t find it too stiff in Sport, firming up the damping as it does.<br /><br />There&rsquo;s something about the Scirocco that instills a certain driving passion in you. You wouldn&rsquo;t buy this car if you just wanted to get from A to B. Well you could, but there&rsquo;s plenty of choice about how to perform that task. You can&rsquo;t help but get involved, you want to use the slick gearshift and the tidy cornering that this car offers in spade-loads. It&rsquo;s dynamic and will bring the same out in anybody behind the wheel. It&rsquo;s also comfortable but not so much that the sportiness is lost. There&rsquo;s also an exceptional amount of grip across a range of surfaces.<br /><br />On the downside? Rear visibility isn&rsquo;t the best, given the small rear window but also the B pillars &ndash; those which separate the rear windows from the tailgate &ndash; block out nasty low-lying car park bollards, meaning that parking sensors are worth considering.<br /><br /><strong>OPTIONS LIST</strong><br />While on the subject of the options list, the touch-screen DVD navigation system known as RNS 510 is superb but will lighten the pocket by &pound;1,200. Why bother, when you could hop on the web and purchase a mobile sat nav from Sirius, whose brilliant Snooper costs considerably less?<br /><br />I&rsquo;ve driven some very proficient cars this year and the Scirocco is right up there with the best of them. It&rsquo;s going to be cheap to maintain too, cheaper than the Golf GTi and considerably so in this form.<br /><br />The argument would be that there is more room for passengers in the Golf and the Scirocco is a two-door coupe, where four doors makes life much easier. This 1.4 makes so much sense though, not least financially.<br /><br /><strong>THE FACTS:</strong><br />VOLKSWAGEN SCIROCCO<br />1.4tsi 6-speed manual<br /><br /><strong>PRICE:</strong> &pound;19,110<br /><strong>0-62MPH:</strong> 8 secs<br /><strong>TOP SPEED:</strong> 135mph<br /><strong>CO2 G/KM:</strong> 154 g/km<br /><strong>MPG COMBINED:</strong> 42.8<br />