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BMW 220i and VW Scirocco 2.0 TSI in comparison: Can both be fast and comfortable?

Hans-Dieter Seufert
BMW 220i and VW Scirocco 2.0 TSI in comparison
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B osch test site Boxberg , Handling route, wrrummm, the VW Scirocco stands out in the fast left, third gear, everything easy. Just a very gentle touch of understeer, the electronic limited-slip differential XDS filters out traction problems and drive influences, the VW Scirocco 2.0 TSI follows the steering angle. Only when the load change is clearly provoked does the rear steer, the curve radius becomes tighter, full throttle on the short straight, turning into the tight right, second gear, that's fun.

VW Scirocco came before Golf

The same exercise is similarly unspectacular a few laps later with the BMW 220i, it remains a bit more relaxed than the VW Scirocco 2.0 TSI, shows no load change reaction, remains unshakably neutral and the DSC attentively in waiting position. If you didn't know that one of the coupés had front-wheel drive and the other rear-wheel drive, the driving impression wouldn't necessarily tell you. Especially when sports coupés like here compete with comparatively mild engines.

That was all very different exactly 40 years ago, when the first VW Scirocco 2.0 TSI came onto the market, even before the organ donor Golf. The most powerful engine available had 85 hp, the entire car weighed just 800 kg, was only 3.8 meters long, and its predecessor was called the Karmann Ghia Type 14. There was no competing model from BMW, the first came a year later 3 Series, however, was priced in a class higher than the compact hatchback Scirocco as a 316 with 90 hp four-cylinder and notchback.

Differences are barely recognizable

Why are we telling you this now? Because at that time in VW Scirocco 2.0 TSI and 3 Series you would have experienced the differences when you parked out. Today you can hardly do this without looking at the technical data. If you now walk a few meters more with the classic cars from 1975, you will also notice, dear reader, that not everything was really better back then.

The carburettor engines tend to be rather stiff on the gas, puff out uncleaned exhaust gases, and by modern standards, passive safety is roughly on par with soapboxes. And if you still believe that a lot of things may not have been so good in the past, but were cheaper: Adjusted for inflation and purchasing power, a 70-hp VW Scirocco 2.0 TSI or a 90-hp BMW 316 would cost around 25,000 euros today.

VW Scirocco ischeaper

For the price there is also the cheapest VW Scirocco 2.0 TSI, the TSI with 125 PS. The price list starts at 26,225 euros for the version with 180 hp, and for 1,900 euros more it is even available with a six-speed DSG. Today, as it was then, it is a bit more expensive if it is to be a sports coupé from Munich: The 220i is available from 29,950 euros; if it competes with the Sport Line package, as here, it is at least 1,900 euros more expensive. Besides the 17-inch alloy wheels and the sports seats, this contains little of the belongings, unless you are looking for exterior mirror caps in the body color, sports logos, glossy black kidney bars or black chrome-plated tailpipes.

The sports seat has the VW Scirocco 2.0 TSI on board as standard, it is already so well equipped that nothing really important is missing apart from xenon headlights, the chassis control DCC, the already mentioned electronic lock XDS and the large navigation system. Perhaps except for the parking pilot, who is actually indispensable because of the poorly visible rear. It is even available for 755 euros including the very well-functioning park steering assistant. The corresponding system at BMW costs exactly 1,000 euros (parking assistant including Park Distance Control front and rear). But it can be dispensed with, because the 220i is clearer despite its stubby stepped rear and has significantly larger window areas.

So the bottom line is that the VW Scirocco 2.0 TSI is around 3,000 euros cheaper than the BMW, adjusted for equipment . That is a lot of money, but for sports coupé fans who spend around 30,000 euros on such a car, not the decisive criterion for purchase.

VW Scirocco has the better drive

There an attractive drive may play a more important role. Seen in this light, it may not have been such a wise decision to rely exclusively on four-cylinder engines for the VW Scirocco 2.0 TSI. With the BMW 2 Series, the 235i with a straight six and 326 hp can still be ordered. The VW's two-liter TSI engine is by no means bad, but a powerful six-cylinder top version would be nice. Which is theoretically conceivable, since the Scirocco is not based on the MQB platform, but on the Golf VI base.

The two-liter TSI still fits better with the zeitgeist, and it also proves to be extremely pleasant and powerful Drive. In the sprint to 100 km /h it is 0.8 seconds ahead of the 220i and also overtakes the BMW in the intermediate sprint. That makes more impression at the regulars' table than on the street, but subjectively too, the VW is a little more sensitive to the gas. The fact that the VW Scirocco 2.0 TSI engine is even more sophisticated completes the impression of an all-round successful drive source. The BMW turbo can hardly do any of that worse, and it would not be noticed at all if you didn't switch directly from the VW that is nuanced better.

The differences between the VW Scirocco 2.0 TSI and the BMW 2 Series in terms of consumption are just as small; in everyday car life they are more in the accelerator of the respective driver than in the technical systems of the cars. Those who like to drive economically can get by on around seven liters of premium gasoline each time without being very slow.

The BMW 220i is more harmonious

The two sports coupés remain similarly close together on the handling course in Boxberg. If we now had a timekeeping in the car, we would probably have noticed that the VW Scirocco 2.0 TSI rushes through the light barrier a few fractions of a second faster. It doesn't feel any more fixed, but is also a few km /h faster in slalom and double lane changes, on the other hand, because of its less communicative steering and more pronounced load change reactions, it demands more driving effort than the nimble BMW.

So the VW Scirocco 2.0 TSI wins this comparison before the 220i. Also because it is the faster, more dynamic car, but with less space inside. The BMW is more comfortable than the VW, is the overall smoother, more sophisticated car in which, even as a sensitive driver over 40, you feel in good hands. In the Scirocco, however, you feel ten years younger, after all you become old enough for the BMW all by yourself.

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