With UK new car sales 30% down in the prime selling month of March and the year to date, the industry is in desperate need of help otherwise only the strong brands will survive.
Good news for Volkswagen is that demand for their relatively new Scirocco three door sports coupe is 39% over their 6,600 sales target for the year. However even that target is down on the original estimate of 11,000 Scirocco UK sales in a full year.
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Introduced in September 2008, and followed by praise from virtually all of the motoring media, the latest Scirocco is the third generation of this famous model range. The first generation appeared in 1974 and the second generation in 1985 and now over 80,000 Sciroccos have been sold in the UK.
Currently the range has the choice of three engines with a fourth to follow this Summer. There is the 1.4-litre TSI 160PS supercharger/turbocharger petrol unit, a real gem of an engine and to my mind the best choice for retail customers who so far are accounting for 60% of Scirocco UK sales.
The next engine in the line-up is the 2.0-litre TSI 200PS turbocharged petrol unit followed by the 2.0-litre TDI 140PS turbodiesel engine which accounts for 60% of registrations to date. A 2.0-litre TDI 170PS engine becomes available in the Summer.
The 1.4 TSI also has the £1,300 option of a 7-speed quick changing DSG twin-clutch automatic gearbox whilst the 2.0-litre 200PS petrol and 140 TDI diesel have 6-speed DSG auto box options. All manual gearboxes are slick and precise 6-speed units.
There are two levels of trim and equipment levels, Scirocco the best seller, and Scirocco GT. Prices range from £19,105 to £22,150.
All Sciroccos sold in the UK benefit from Adaptive Chassis Control which allows the driver to select from comfort, sport and normal modes to define the desired suspension, steering and accelerator response settings.
Other standard equipment includes anti-lock braking, electronic stabilisation programme, six airbags, alloy wheels and air conditioning. As usual there is a host of extra cost options including satellite navigation, telephone connectivity, panoramic sunroof and believe it or not a front and rear carpet mat set is an £70 extra cost item.
Just to put further icing on the cake the standard Scirocco comes, front, side and curtain airbags, whiplash optimised heads restraints, automatic hazard lights activated by heavy braking, remote central locking, automatic wipers and lights, electrically operated front windows and heated door mirrors, a steel space saver spare wheel - none of these awful inflation kits, multi-function computer, body coloured bumpers and rear roof spoiler.
The design and positioning of the instruments and controls are first class, the sports seats are comfortable and supportive and the overall quality and design of the interior can only be applauded.
Size and practicality
The Scirocco three-door sports coupe uses a modified version of the latest Golf hatchback's floorpan but it is marginally longer at 4,256mm although it has the same length wheelbase of 2,578mm.
It is lower than the Golf but only by 75mm (approximately 3-inches) and the headroom is still good for 6-feet tall front and rear passengers. The Scirocco's width of 1,810mm against the Golf's 1,786mm is a main feature because this makes the coupe feel really very roomy with loads of elbow space for the four occupants.
The deep boot with the rear seats in place is 292-litres but this increases to an impressive 755-litres with the rear seats folded. Visibility through the tailgate and rear quarter windows is not brilliant but it is a coupe after all, the driver just needs to be aware that other cars and two wheeled transport can get lost in the rear blind spots.
However in all other respects the coupe is a stunner. The interior design is smart and the quality impeccable and it makes you really want to own one of these cars if you are in the market for a compact sporty coupe.
I can see it appealing to all ages, young and older singles and couples. The new Scirocco really has broad appeal and will be a strong competitor for sales against the new Golf and even the latest GTi version.
The Scirocco also has performance to match the looks whatever choice of engine is made. But for me there is only one choice. The brilliant 1.4-litre supercharger/turbocharger petrol unit. The engine offers the performance that a coupe needs but without paying an unreasonable purchase price, using more expensive fuel and incurring more taxes.
Downsizing of engines without losing performance is one area the car industry is becoming increasingly skilful at - they have to because of future penal CO2 emission regulations. The 1.4-litre, four-cylinder petrol unit uses supercharging and turbocharging to produce an amazing 160PS of power for outright performance and a supercharger for low speed torque, 240Nm from 1,500rpm.
This gives this relatively small unit huge flexibility at low speeds, just like a larger diesel but without the noise. And it is frugal on fuel as well. Officially it will return 42.8mpg on average and my test car weighed in with 43mpg. CO2 emissions are 154g/km so it fits into the new VED Band G which costs £150 a year.
Top speed is a rapid 135mph and 0-62mph takes 8.0 seconds. Can I remind you again this is a 1.4-litre unit? Why buy any other because in real life driving conditions it excels by being responsive at low speeds and fast whenever you want.
As for the ride and handling? Brilliance continues. The ride is comfortable, exceptional for a sporty coupe providing the standard Scirocco specification is chosen. I think the GT versions will give a much firmer ride. The wide front and rear track and the low height means the coupe rides flat on the road with huge amounts of grip at the front wheels.
When I tried the first 2.0-litre Scirocco model last year at the media launch I was mightily impressed - I'm even more so now following an extended period with the 1.4-litre TSI version.
If buying a new Scirocco is on your agenda then Volkswagen Finance offers a personal credit plan. For the 1.4 TSI test model it requires a deposit of £4,861, a first monthly repayment of £169 and then 35 months at £229 per month.
After three years/30,000 miles the keys can then be handed back or the optional final payment of £9,415 can be made.
Volkswagen Scirocco MILESTONES
Volkswagen Scirocco 1.4-litre TSI 160PS 6-Speed manual
Engine: 1.4-litre, four cylinder, petrol with supercharger and turbocharger, 160PS and 240Nm from 1,500rpm
Performance: 135mph, 0-62mph 8.0-seconds, 42.8mpg (43mpg actual), CO2 154g/km, new VED Band G £150, BIK tax 18% Insurance group: 14
For: Best coupe for the price, potent small engine, great handling, really comfortable, frugal on fuel, image, residual values
Against: Rear visibility, options push up the price considerably.