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wheels car of the year 2012 best hot hatch: Volkswagen Scirocco R

When you send 255 horses to the front lines, there’s bound to be trouble. Unless you’re a Scirocco R

Volkswagen Scirocco R
Image Credit: Grace Paras/ANM
The R version simply makes your grin wider.

The diminutive Scirocco has long been a wheels favourite for it’s sharp handling and snappy good looks. Now the R version ups the ante even further, with a more powerful version of the turbo 2.0-litre four-pot and some detail cosmetic tweaks to keep the anoraks happy.

Unlike its all-wheel drive big brother Golf R, the Scirocco sends all the power through the front wheels only, but the presence of a trick XDL limited slip differential keeps it all tidy. The R also gets VW’s Active Chassis Control, which lets you select between Comfort, Normal and Sport modes and comes with a brilliant DSG transmission.

The version we get here has 255bhp and 330Nm of torque, but lays it down so well you won’t complain. Driving is a constant delight and though the ride is firm even in Comfort mode, the little car sticks to the road like Velcro and goes exactly where you point it. The R version simply makes your grin wider.

Inside it is standard issue VW, mostly black and severe, with occasional flashes of brushed alloy and red lights. Everything is well built and the sports seats grip you well. R status gets you nice touches like bespoke sill plates, and a sprinkling of R logos to remind you what you’re in.

Not that you will need much reminding, you’ll be having so much fun hooning around in what must be the sharpest handling and most engaging drive of all the small VWs. Sure, the back seats are a mission to get into, the roof is low and makes the interior a bit claustrophobic for rear passengers, and the boot space is somewhat compromised, but who cares?

You have this car simply for the drive, and keep something sensible at home for the shopping.