With VW's Scirocco, R is for real
The 18th letter of the alphabet has been shamefully misused by the marketing mavens who dream up model designations, who merrily tack on an R (or two!) on to the badging of any budgetmobile with a go-fast stripe and low-profile tyres.
But when the White Coats at Wolfsburg tack an R on to a Volkswagen model, they're not kidding - and the Scirocco R, released this week on the South African market, is a case in point.
At its heart is a heavily revised, two-litre TSI engine with a new cylinder head, uprated pistons and con rods, and high-pressure injectors. The turbo has been tweaked to deliver 1.2 bar of boost, necessitating a bigger intercooler to cope with the extra heat. A choice of six-speed manual or DSG gearboxes is available, each driving the front wheels via an electronically controlled differential.
The result: 188kW and 350Nm - now that, Cyril, is worth an R.
Volkswagen quotes a 0-100 sprint of six seconds flat (5.8 with DSG) and a top end of 250km/h, on a combined-cycle fuel consumption of 8.1 litres/100km (8.0 with DSG) and CO2 emissions of 189 g/km - or 187 with DSG.
Uprated brake discs (345mm in front, 310 at the rear) and new callipers finished in gloss black, together with specially tuned, pneumatically controlled dampers, keep it all on the straight and narrow, while a tuned (read authoritative) exhaust system breathes out through tailpipes at either side of the rear bumper.
Front and rear bumpers, indeed, are bespoke items by Volkswagen R; the nose is dominated by deep front airdams below LED daytime running lights and there's a discreet R badge on the blacked-out grille.
Sill extensions replace the normal Scirocco's side rubbing strip; a new diffuser/bumper below smoked tail-light lenses and a larger-than-standard rear spoiler lend the super-Scirocco extra presence, as do special, 19” five-spoked alloys shod with 235/35 rubber.
The Scirocco R has McPherson struts in front and a multilink rear suspension set-up, with special springs, dampers and anti-roll bars to suit the lower seating position and centre of gravity.
The Scirocco R also has a significantly wider track than the Golf R - 1561mm in front (28mm more than the Golf R) and 1553mm (38mm extra) at the rear, with light-alloy components to reduce unsprung weight.
Dynamic chassis control is an option, allowing the driver to select from normal, comfort and sport settings each with a different mapping for suspension, steering and accelerator response characteristics.
Standard, however, is an XDS electronic differential lock - actually an extension of the ABS and eletronic stability programmes. ESP sensors provide information on lateral G forces in a corner, while ABS sensors monitor levels of friction.
Using this information the control unit can predict when an inside wheel is about to lift and apply a braking force automatically to increase traction on the opposite front wheel - before it loses traction rather than afterwards. The result is smoother, more sure-footed tracking through fast corners.
The XDS system, we are told, also compensates for the understeer that afflicts all front-wheel drive cars. We'll take that under advisement until we've driven one.
The interior looks nothing like the stock Scirocco: deep sports seats are trimmed in leather and a new set of dials with electric blue “R” logos (similar to the new Golf R) sits behind a flat-bottomed steering wheel with contrasting inserts and fingertip controls. All the cabin highlights have been replaced with gloss black and the aluminium trim extends to “R”-embossed sill plates.
Standard features include:
Anti-lock braking with hydraulic brake assist.
Electronic Stability programme with traction control and XDS electronically controlled differential.
Driver and front passenger airbags with passenger's airbag deactivation switch, front side airbags and curtain airbags.
Driver and front passenger's whiplash-optimised head restraints.
Isofix child seat preparation for rear seats.
Bi-Xenon headlights including static curve lighting
LED Taillights in dark red.
Dual-zone auto aircon.
50:50 split fold rear seat backs.
Front centre armrest with storage compartment and cup holders.
Rain sensor and automatic dimming interior rear-view mirror.
Dusk sensor with automatic driving lights.
Automatic see-you-home lighting function.
Electrically heatable and adjustable door mirrors.
Front electric windows.
Passenger side mirror with kerb view.
Space-saver spare wheel.
RCD 310 radio/CD MP3 with eight speakers and auxiliary socket.
12V socket in luggage compartment.
Body-coloured bumpers and door handles.
Tyre Pressure Monitor
Factory-fitted options include an electric tilting panoramic sunroof, touchscreen DVD navigation and 300 watt premium entertainment system from Danish hi-fi specialist Dynaudio.
The touchscreen system can also store favourite tracks on the internal, 30GB hard-drive via an SD slot - and play DVDs when the car is stationary.
2.0 TSI Manual - R403 355
2.0 TSI DSG - R417 855
Included are a three-year or 120 000km warranty, a five-year or 90 000km service plan and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty. Service intervals are 15 000km.