2008 Volkswagen Scirocco 1.4 TSI

A rose by another name - the Volkswagen Corrado
The third-generation Scirocco was a rose by a different name. VW called it the "Corrado," as it was introduced before production of the Scirocco came to an end. The Corrado debuted in North America in 1990 with a supercharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder that was slightly faster than the Scirocco 16V. The Corrado used the Mk2 Volkswagen platform, sharing many components with the Mk2 Golf/Jetta/GTI., and it really hit its stride in 1992 with the introduction of a 178-hp 2.8-liter VR6. The VR6 combined the packaging efficiency of a V-6 with the smoothness and sound of an in-line six and made the Corrado one seriously fast VW. Critics lamented, however, that the weight of the big six killed the handling balance that made the Scirocco so much fun... but the sound and fury of the VR6 cemented the Corrado's place in enthusiasts' hearts.

And, now, the Scirocco makes a triumphant return
The Corrado was retired for the 1995 model year, and in the intervening time, VW hasn't made another sport coupe. Until now. The 2008 Scirocco follows the same basic recipe - take an existing Golf/GTI platform and put a lower, sexier body on it. This time, however, Volkswagen was able to dip into the Eos parts bin, making the Scirocco wider than the GTI, too. And the result is spectacular.

A very special engine in the Scirocco I drove
The German-specification Scirocco is available with a choice of three gasoline engines and one diesel, the most powerful of which is the 200-hp 2.0-liter from the GTI. The Scirocco I drove, however, was a much more interesting engine, even if it doesn't produce as much power. Under the hood of my granite brown Scirocco was a little 1.4-liter engine with a surprisingly delicate thirst for fuel combined with an impressive amount of power.

The 1.4 TSI is a unique engine because it uses both a supercharger and a turbocharger to force 160 hp out of a pipsqueak four-cylinder. I've read about this engine for quite some time, but my expectations were quite different than the reality. I expected the TSI to howl with an audible supercharger whine from idle until some point around 4000 rpm, where I imagined that a big turbo would suddenly kick in, throwing the torque curve upward and me backward in my seat. In fact, the engine feels like it has a perfect flat plateau of torque from 2000 rpm until redline.

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