Special Coverage

Geneva
Auto Show

Ending a 16-year absence, the highly anticipated, all-new Volkswagen Scirocco sails into Geneva’s Palexpo this week to make its worldwide debut.

The unveiling marks the 34-year anniversary of the rollout of the first Scirocco, which also entered the world stage at the Geneva auto show in 1974.

The new 4-seat coupe goes on sale in Europe in late summer but won’t make it to the U.S. market, where there reportedly is concern it would eat into demand for the Rabbit-based GTI.

“That doesn’t fit here,” Volkswagen Group of America Inc. President Stefan Jacoby said of the Scirocco at the North American International Auto Show in January. “We don’t have to bring every model here to the U.S.”

Like its predecessors, the third-generation Scirocco is designed to be “the kind of sports car…people dream of,” says Volkswagen AG CEO Martin Winterkorn. “Yet, it is a dream that an exceptionally large number of car drivers will be able to afford – despite all of the high-end technologies we have implemented.”

Pricing has not been announced.

The Scirocco will offer the choice of four 4-cyl. engines, including three direct-injected gasoline powerplants ranging from 120 hp to 197 hp and a 138-hp common-rail diesel.

The base 120-hp engine delivers 9.7-second 0-62 mph (100 km/h) performance, while the top-of-the-line engine will knock that run off in just 7.2 seconds, VW says.

A 7-speed DSG (dual-clutch) manual transmission will be available with the midlevel 158-hp 4-cyl., while a 6-speed dual-clutch will be offered with the top-rated gasoline powerplant and the diesel.

The new model is by no means a retro design. Unlike the earlier-generation hatchbacks, this Scirocco features a longer, panoramic roof with a steep, more wagon-like tailgate.

In addition to providing crisp, athletic proportions, it allows for more interior space than the Sciroccos of the 1970s and 1980s – enough, Volkswagen says, to seat two adults in the rear and still provide sufficient space for cargo.

Based on the same architecture that underpins the Golf (Rabbit), the Scirocco measures 167.6 ins. (425.6 cm) long, 55.1 ins. (140.0 cm) tall and 71.3 ins. (181.0 cm) wide. The standard 17-in. wheels are pushed out to the corners, with the distance between the axles at 101.5 ins. (257.8 cm).

VW says the car’s front end meets new stringent pedestrian-protection standards and marks the beginning of a new design language for the brand. It features a body-colored bumper that divides a narrow horizontal air inlet on top and wider grille opening below. Headlamps flow well back along the fenders and, as with the New Beetle, the VW emblem is on the hood, rather than the radiator grille.

The hood and side panels are sharply chiseled, with a character line that runs from the headlamps through the top of the doors and all to way to the back. The lower side panels have been scooped out, adding to the car’s taught, muscular appearance.

A roof-mounted spoiler and sculpted taillamps highlight the rear design.

Cargo capacity totals 10.3 cu.-ft. (292 L), but expands to 26.7 cu.-ft. (755 L) with the rear seats folded down.

The dashboard is cleanly designed. The centerpiece in the top-of-the-line models is a 6.5-in. (16.5-cm) touchscreen audio/navigation system that incorporates a 30-gig hard drive. Gages feature white illumination, not the blue that’s been a constant in VWs for the past several years.

Adaptive chassis control offers three settings that can be selected via a button in front of the gearshift lever. It not only controls suspension settings, it also adjusts the electro-mechanical power steering according to acceleration, braking and steering inputs. Electronic stability control is standard.

Also taking their bows in Geneva are several “green” models, including the Golf TDI Hybrid concept, the natural-gas-powered Passat Variant TSI EcoFuel and the Sharan BlueMotion van.

The Golf TDI Hybrid combines electric drive with a 1.2L common-rail diesel engine and 7-speed DSG transmission and delivers fuel economy of 69 mpg (3.4 L/100 km), VW says. The car’s nickel-metal-hydride batteries are packaged in the trunk and weigh 99 lbs. (45 kg).

The Passat Variant will hit the European market toward year’s end, VW says. Its 147-hp engine is converted to run on natural gas or gasoline. It can hit 97 mph (100 km/h) from a standstill in 9.7 seconds. Feeding the engine from both the 8-gallon (31L) gasoline tank and the three 49-lb. (22-kg) natural gas tanks, the Passat Variant can travel 497 miles (800 km) between fill-ups.

The Sharan van with VW’s BlueMotion diesel will be available midyear. Fuel economy from the 137-hp engine is rated at 39 mpg (6 L/100 km), the auto maker says.

VW also is showing off the new all-wheel-drive Golf Variant 4Motion, expected at European dealerships shortly. It is equipped with a 103-hp TDI diesel.

dzoia@wardsauto.com