VW Scirocco R Sport Coupe

Why is Volkswagen Refusing to Sell its Fun to Drive and Fast Scirocco R Sport Coupe in the USA?

Many auto brands know that there is nothing like a high performance, well styled, be-spoilered halo model to sit atop their model line-ups even if they don’t sell in huge numbers volume wise. Evidence of this can be seen in industry legends like the Subaru WRX, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, Hyundai Genesis Sport Coupe R all the way up to the Ford Mustang, Chevy Corvette or anything that is fast and utterly lacking in visual subtlety.

You want to know what is wrong with current Volkswagen Golf R model standing atop the North American line-up of this German based automaker? Well, first off besides a pair of sportier looking exhausts at the back, subtle R- badging and minimal body cladding you can’t really tell it apart from a cooking grade GTI or Heaven forbid - a diesel Golf. That’s not usually the reserved image someone wants from a model that starts at over $34,000 (almost s$10,000 more than a GTI) and then still asks the buyer to stump up for optional navigation and power moonroof.

But this is not so much about the Volkswagen R’s pricing but that model’s overall emotional appeal as well. For 2015 Volkswagen is going to give the Golf R some more fireworks by upping power to nearly 300 horsepower which should prove quite entertaining with that car’s standard 4-Motion full time all-wheel drive system. But then, wouldn’t it be a whole lot more appealing to someone looking for a sporty, fun to drive, yes we will call at an “adult toy” car if Volkswagen also offered this good-looking Scirocco R sport coupe alongside it for those who needn’t be bothered with issues of practicality?

These customers buy on emotion mainly and it’s hard to get all that emotional about the Golf R’s appearance. You can even order it with four doors! That makes it a really fast family car which is another niche that VW should be in but the reason Volkswagen doesn’t sell the Scirocco here in the United States is because the powers that be in Wolfsburg think it would steal sales from the GTI and Golf R. Why does that logic only hold here and not in Europe especially since VW’s chief ececutive Jonathan Browning went on the record saying he was very keen to sell this very successful and undeniably good-looking sport coupe. And sorry, it won’t compete with the Eos or Beetle either.

If anything, Volkswagen’s European leaders need to see that their North American market needs ALLL of their available product and behaviors like releasing our version of the Golf a year after the rest of the world is not the action of a worldwide auto brand rivaling General Motors and Toyota in size. So please, Volkswagen you really do need the Scirocco R coupe not just to build volume but to create a “fantasy” model in your brand. Besides, people don’t fantasize about owning a Subaru Forester but a WRX is something else entirely.

Our Brief Drive Around Napa Valley in a brand new European 2014 VW Scirocco R

We aren’t sure how we got so lucky to attend a drive event in Napa Valley at the invitation of Volkswagen of North America and while we were there enjoying previews of every 2014 model they sell as well as the VW GTI and Golf TDI, the most sought after unit to drive was the forbidden Scirocco R. Yes, the cabin is cozier than a Golf’s but two could squeeze into the neatly bolstered individual rear sport seats. Front seat passengers are treated to two of the most comfortable seats we have ever had the pleasure to drive in mixing the right levels of support and comfort.

As expected with the turbocharged engine, sports car caliber locking front differential, 260 pound weight loss and its lack of the parasitic all-wheel drive suffered by any sport coupe and heroic shifts from the double clutch DSG paddle shifters, this car could rocket around corners and 0-60 in under 5.5 seconds. It was intoxicating, it made everyone who drove it want one. Until we all learned that in order to federalize it to our crash standards that VW would need to do so much retrofit work to the A-Pillar and front end that the car would cost more like $50,000. It’s hard to say if we’d say no to one, however, even with the possibility of being less safe in a crash. Here’s to hoping VW fixes those issues and brings back the Scirocco for its next generation!

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Comments

I drove this car in Napa in August. It should so be in the US market. It's a hoot.