Volkswagen Scirocco 1.4 TSI DSG EQP: One coin, two sides

For every matter that people judge or form perceptions, there’ll always be the good side of the coin, and inevitably, the bad. Facelifts often bear the brunt of such criticisms – after all, they look generally the same as their predecessors.

The facelifted Volkswagen Scirocco is a perfect example of this, and more. It’s actually quite amazing that the old Roc (as we affectionately term it) has been around for close to eight years since its launch back in 2008. When it was first unveiled, the Roc attracted so much attention it was spotted every other car on the road.

Now into the makeover of its third iteration, the Roc exemplifies why we stress that there’re two sides of every coin.

Exterior

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There’s been minor amendments to the aesthetics of the Scirocco. Up front, the new head light assembly housing appears to taper sleeker towards the center grille, and the aerodynamic blades you get on the GTIs are now offered to you by the side of the bumpers over the fog lamps. Our test car was based on an Equipment Package (EQP), and had the optional xenon headlamps with integrated daytime running lights – something sleeker than the predecessor’s DRL strip at the bumper.

While the side profile of the Roc looks exactly the same as before, the rear features a brand new tail lamp assembly. Volkswagen has since moved on from the rounded tail lamp designs of the Mk 5 Jetta and the old Scirocco to implement sharper, more angular LED strips that gives the car a lower stance feel.

And most importantly, you can now open the boot by flipping the Volkswagen badge upwards, something we felt was severely lacking on the old Scirocco.

Interior

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We must say that while facelifts tend to introduce minimal excitement over the predecessors, Volkswagen managed an almost exact replica of the Scirocco’s old interior into the new. To add on to the touch of sportiness, Volkswagen now incorporated instrument gauges onto the top of the center console, allowing you to keep track of your oil temperature, the time, as well as (well, if you ever used it), the turbo boost bar.

If you ever do a comparison with the old Scirocco (and mind you, we meant just the 1.4 instead of the higher-spec 2.0 litre), you’d realise that this facelift offers much lesser tidbits for the tech geek. Gone are convenience features such as the KESSY Locking and Starting System, electric seats at the front, as well as navigation on the RNS infotainment system.

This is where we bring back our analogy of the coin with two sides. It was emphasized to us that this facelifted Roc plays on a different field compared to its predecessor. On one side of the coin, the new Roc was adapted to suit our Category A COE, offering the ideal solution for buyers who aren’t willing to pay that exorbitant amount for a certificate to drive a car in Singapore. On the other side, you now get a downsized engine, a reasonably priced stylish coupe, but you lose out on the gadgets you would enjoy otherwise on its predecessor.

The Drive

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We felt that the reduction in power was an extremely unfortunate step Volkswagen had to take to combat our COE criteria. The Roc is a beautiful coupe, and the amount of power (or lack thereof) doesn’t really do justice to this German beauty. Volkswagen’s new 1.4 TSI plant now puts out 120 horses compared to the old 158, which was simply a marvel to drive.

Amidst our disappointment in the lower figures, we have to say that the ride felt comfortably good and snappy when handled well. On cruising, you barely feel the difference of 40 horses, much less the 50 Nm of torque unless you plant your foot to the ground. The Roc still manages a decent 9.7 seconds to the century mark despite being lowered on the playing field.

Volkswagen now offers the optional Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) feature, allowing you to select three different modes for your dampers – Normal, Sport, and Comfort. While we felt that Normal and Comfort didn’t feel much different from each other, Sport mode was a pleasure to meddle with, especially when your ride firms up in anticipation of the hard driving you’ll push it to.

And being a Volkswagen, it remains planted to the ground to deliver as much satisfaction as your wheels permit. Thumbs up.

Conclusion

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On one side of the coin, we now see how aspiring car owners can look out for the Roc, it having “downgraded” to a Category A vehicle instead of a Category B like its predecessor. It now stands as a more affordable option for the lifestyle chaser or the young executive couple.

On the other hand, car enthusiasts harping on performance will perhaps be a little dismayed by the new performance figures and the lack of features. It doesn’t really compare up to its predecessor, which ironically offered so much gadgets you actually wonder whether it’s a 1.4.

But then again, it wouldn’t be fair to make that comparison, would it?

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