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Volkswagen Iroc (2008)

Published: 13 October 2006

The lowdown

Yes, it’s arriving in early 2008, yes it will look just like this and yes, prices will kick off at £17,500. It’s billed as a concept car but Volkswagen’s Iroc is the real thing – a replacement for the iconic Scirocco that made its debut in 1974. Running on the Eos platform, and borrowing power and drive trains from the Golf GT and GTI, the Scirocco delivers a brilliant combination of jaw-slackening looks and honed driver focused dynamics. The news gets even better - there’s a stripped out hardcore R20 version with 230bhp on tap waiting in the wings… Want to know what this Iroc is like to drive? We’re the only magazine to get behind the Iroc’s dished wheel and take it out for a spin, so check out our exclusive drive story in the November 2006 issue of CAR.

How it looks

Fabulous, in a word. It’s been a long time since a VW looked so lean and aggressive. Designed by Robert Lesnik, the man behind the Eos, the Scirocco is a successful cross between hatch and shooting break and the subtle mix of concave and convex sheetmetal over the wheelarches, bonnet and flanks imbue the Scirocco with a sculpted three-dimensionality. See it in the metal and you’ll see what we mean. And that like-it-or-loathe-it lozenge shaped front grille – first seen on the odd but entertaining Ecoracer - will make it through to production, as will those bulging haunches, squinty Xenon-filled headlamps and hefty body kit. But the touch-sensors that unlock the doors, polished 20inch alloys and full-length glass sunroof will probably be deleted on costs grounds.

The inside story

The interior may look motorshow-flash, but its basic architecture is good to go – those two bold circular dials will house a rev-counter and a multi-media/satnav screen, topped by a small digital speed readout. They’re complemented by smaller turbo boost and oil pressure gauges housed on the centre console, while the air-vents mimic that hexagon front grille. And the round dial at the base of the stubby floating centre console is VW’s first stab at a iDrive-style multi-media controller for the stereo and satnav functions. The neoprene-covered seats and their five-point harnesses will go, but that neat centre console and dished three-spoke steering wheel will stay as will the simple bank of toggle switches lined up on either side of it. It’s arguably the neatest and driver-focused interior from VW we’ve seen in a long time.

Under the skin

The Scirocco sits on the running gear of the Eos coupe-cabriolet, which explains its long wheelbase and bigger-than-golf proportions. The transversely-mounted engines makes for a short stubby nose, creating a roomy cabin, despite the impression given by the narrow glasshouse, high shoulders and low roofline. The engineers at Wolfsburg have gone to great lengths to take any slop out of the steering and chassis, promising ride and handling to be even sharper than that of the excellent Golf GTI. All engine variants will come with the option of a six-speed manual or DSG paddle-shift transmission, and those that tick the double-clutch box will be rewarded with a stubby gearlever that pops up from its flush-mounted position on the centre console when the ignition key twists to fire up the engine. Rear passengers won’t be shortchanged, either. Although the rising swage and sloping roof lines create the impression of a tapered tail, it’s all a clever illusion – rear head and leg room is more than adequate

The engine room

The Scirocco will come with a four-engine line-up: a 1.4-litre twincharge TSI (turbo and supercharged) unit pushing out 140bhp or 170bhp, a 200bhp 2.0-litre TFSI and a 170bhp 2.0-litre TDI diesel unit. VW’s engineers have ruled out shoehorning the Golf R32’s V6 engine into the Scirocco’s nose, claiming its cost and thirst, not to mention the weight of its all-wheel-drive layout, wouldn’t suit the Scirocco’s character. Instead expect a stripped out lightweight Scirocco R20 version, powered by the same tweaked 2.0-litre Turbo FSI engine found in the Audi S3. It won’t run the S3’s full 265bhp – the Scirocco is front wheel drive, remember - but expect at least 230bhp and plenty of torque to go with it.

By Ben Whitworth

Contributing editor, sartorial over-achiever, HANS device shirt collars