Wolfgang Bernhard has barely warmed the seat as Volkswagen chairman and he is already attacking the market with products he hopes make the German automaker cool again. Look for proof in the reborn Scirocco coupe — dubbed Iroc — which makes its global debut in Paris in September.
If Bernhard’s plan comes to fruition, it will do for VW what the TT did for Audi — provide the German carmaker with a modern, relevant and desirable image-building model.
Iroc is planned for North American showrooms by the end of 2008, the same year VW launches its Land Rover LR2 rival, the Tiguan.
The original Scirocco was the highlight of the VW lineup when it was launched in 1974, an affordable Giugiaro-designed coupe that could seat four, and — in top-of-the-line, 16-valve 2.0-liter form — hold its own against some of the best two-door offerings of the day. It bolstered VW’s image and helped lay the foundations for some of its most successful years on record. With the Iroc (the name uses the middle four letters from the word Scirocco), VW hopes to recapture that old Scirocco magic.
The basic ingredients look right. The New Beetle notwithstanding, Wolfsburg has consciously steered away from throwback design cues for Iroc. The prominent brushed-aluminum single-frame grille won’t win any beauty contests, but the angular headlamps, distinctive clamshell hood and heavily flared front-wheel arches imbue Iroc with plenty of presence. Other distinctive features include a heavily raked windshield, pronounced shoulder line, shallow side glass and plunging roof-line. About the only weak point is the hatchback rear, which lacks the flair and imagination of the rest of the exterior. Iroc is similar in length to a Golf GTI, but is 1.5 inches wider and fully 3.3 inches lower.
Iroc runs on a straightforward front-wheel-drive mechanical package. Wheelbase and track widths are extended slightly over the Golf GTI, giving the coupe a confident stance. The show car sports 19-inch wheels, but we expect 18s in production form.
VW is vague on exact specifications, but the new coupe likely will be powered by three engines: a supercharged and turbocharged 1.4-liter, 210-hp four-cylinder Twincharger gasoline engine; a turbocharged 2.0-liter 240-hp four-cylinder; and a 3.6-liter 280-hp V6, the latter likely offered with 4Motion all-wheel drive. Transmission choices should include a standard six-speed manual and optional seven-speed Direct Sequential Gearbox.
VW will likely build about 60,000 Irocs annually, priced at about $26,000 in base trim.