This is the home of automobile road tests in South Africa. We drive South African cars, SUVs and LCVs under South African conditions. It also just happens that most of the vehicles we drive are world cars as well, so what you read here probably applies to the models you can get at home.
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*Please remember too, that prices quoted were those ruling on the days I wrote the reports.
This is a launch report. In other words, it's simply a new model announcement. The driving experience was limited to a short drive over a prepared course chosen to make the product look good. We can therefore not tell you what it will be like to live with over an extended period, how economical it is, or how reliable it will be. A very brief first impression is all we can give you until such time as we get an actual test unit for trial. Thank you for your patience.
Published in Weekend Witness Motoring on Saturday June 18, 2011
Scirocco R - just the 2.0 litre version of the car we already know, with the wick turned up a bit, right? Wrong. The Force on this one comes from a reworked version of the old EA113 motor with its belt-driven camshafts, rather than the EA888 power plant used in the 'tame' 147-kW version. The block has been reinforced, there's an entirely new alloy head and it has uprated pistons and conrods and high-pressure injectors. The familiar Borg-Warner E03 turbocharger generates 1,2 bar of boost and is joined by a new intercooler to cope with the extra heat generated. The result is 188kW, 350Nm of torque and zero to 100 in 5,8 seconds if you choose the six-speed DSG 'box. The manual six-ratio shifter takes a whole two tenths longer to get there but to compensate, the built-in sonic exhaust-tuned sound effects are easier to induce.
Just so you don't get confused in the car park, bespoke items designed by Volkswagen R GmbH replace the front and rear bumpers of the conventional Scirocco. The nose is dominated by a trio of deep air dams set into the front bumper with its set of LED daytime running lights. The glossy black grille with discreet ‘R’ badge is framed by a set of standard Bi- Xenon headlight units. Further back, subtle sill extensions replace the rubbing strips fitted to the shopping car. At the rear, chrome-tipped exhausts flank the new bumper and diffuser unit, while smoked light lenses and a larger wing lend the 'R' even greater presence. The gloss black grille finish extends to wing mirrors and rear diffuser, regardless of the body colour of the vehicle. Unique to 'R' models are five-spoke ‘Talladega’ wheels fitted with 235/35 19" tyres.
So the Scirocco R is simply a Golf R in a coupé body, you ask? Wrong again. While the engine and many electronic parts are the same, there are vital differences. The Golf has 4Motion awd, the Scirocco doesn't. It uses XDS, an electronic cross-axle control system for improved traction and handling, to compensate for the under- and torque steer typical of powerful front-wheel drive cars. It is also lower, wider and lighter than its four-door sister, with suspension lowered even further. This in turn necessitated revised settings to accommodate the coupé's more sporting character and dynamics. There is a trade off. The ultra low roofline and ground-hugging build mean that rearward vision is somewhat restricted, making reversing a bit of a trial. To make life easier, VW has added rear parking assistance as a standard item.
Other standard fittings include ABS with Hydraulic Brake Assist, ESP with EDL (Electronic Differential Lock), ASR traction control and XDS electronically controlled differential, six airbags, driver and front passenger’s whiplash-optimised head restraints, Isofix child seat preparation for rear seats, Bi-Xenon headlights with static curve lighting, Climatronic dual zone air conditioner, 50:50 split fold rear seat backs, rain sensing wipers, automatic driving lights, ‘R’ design sports leather seats, RCD 310 Radio/CD MP3 with eight speakers, and a tyre pressure monitor. Options include a choice of two other sound systems (one with satnav and hard drive music storage), a panoramic sunroof, racing bucket seats and DCC dynamic chassis, steering and accelerator control.
From King Shaka International the familiarisation drive took in a twisty and scenic route, tumbling in for a late-morning tea break at a cosy little B & B-cum restaurant on the way to Ixopo, then back to the north coast. There is little to choose between the two gearboxes with final choice depending only on personal preference. The manual version I shared with the editor of a Durban trade journal after the midway car swop had the optional racing buckets fitted. She agreed that they were snug, supportive and probably worth the extra R20 000 for the resulting feeling of oneness with the machine and total driving involvement.
Prices: R403 355 (manual) or R417 855 (DSG)
Engine: 1 984 cc, four cylinders, inline, petrol, turbocharged
Power: 188 kW at 6 000 rpm
Torque: 350 Nm between 2 500 and 5 000 rpm
Zero to 100 km/h: 5,8 seconds (DSG) or 6,0 seconds (manual)
Maximum speed: Governed to 250 km/h
Average fuel consumption: 8,0 l/100 km (DSG) or 8,1 l/100 km (manual)
Tank: 55 litres
Luggage space: 312/1 006 litres
Warranty: 3 years/120 000 km
Service plan: 5 years/90 000 km at 15 000 km intervals
To see a road test of the stick shift version, click here
This is a one-man show, which means that road test cars entrusted to me are driven only by me. Some reviewers hand test cars over to their partners to use as day-to-day transport and barely experience them for themselves.
What this means to you is that every car reviewed is given my own personal evaluation and receives my own seat of the pants judgement - no second hand input here.
Every car goes through real world testing; on city streets littered with potholes, speed bumps and rumble strips, on freeways and if its profile demands, dirt roads as well.
My articles appear every Wednesday in the motoring pages of The Witness, South Africa's oldest continuously running newspaper, and occasionally on Saturdays in Weekend Witness as well. I drive eight to ten vehicles most months of the year (press cars are withdrawn over the festive season - wonder why?) so not everything gets published in the paper. Those that are, get a tagline but the rest is virgin, unpublished and unedited by the political-correctness police. Hope you like what you see, because there are no commercial interests at work here. As quite a few readers have found, I answer every serious enquiry from my home email address, with my phone numbers attached, so I do actually exist.
I am based in Pietermaritzburg, KZN, South Africa. This is the central hub of the KZN Midlands farming community; the place farmers go to buy their supplies and equipment, truck their goods to market, send their kids to school and go to kick back and relax.
So occasionally a cow, a goat or a horse may add a little local colour by finding its way into the story or one of the pictures. It's all part of the ambience!
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