It turns out you can stop the ’Roc: The iconic Volkswagen Scirocco has gone out of production. “The Scirocco cannot be ordered with individual specifications anymore. But you can purchase vehicles already built,” VW’s German website now says.
And thus ends the era of sporty front-wheel-drive coupes at VW. It began in 1974 with the first-generation Scirocco, and more than half a million units of that ultralight, angular coupe were built until it was replaced in 1981. (Interesting aside: A shooting-brake version of the first model created by the Hanover-based dealer Nordstadt, called the Sciwago, previewed the look of the final Scirocco.)
For the second generation, the company dismissed a rather conservative design proposal by the Italian firm Giugiaro, which penned the first Scirocco. Instead, VW selected an in-house design, which was more forward-looking but took some getting used to: “A pencil up front, an Easter egg in the rear,” a colleague complained back then in reference to its low, thin front profile and capacious hatch area. A Karmann-proposed targa version never made it into production.
Work on a successor to the second-generation Scirocco didn’t quite go according to plan. The new car got so advanced and costly that VW decided to launch it in 1988 as a separate model called the Corrado; it was sold alongside the Scirocco II for three years until the Scirocco nameplate was discontinued in 1992. Initially available only with the unreliable 158-hp supercharged 1.8-liter four, the Corrado later offered a VR6 engine at the top of the lineup above two naturally aspirated four-bangers. This didn’t help sales much, and the Corrado outlasted the second-gen Scirocco by only a few years.
The Corrado’s weak market performance seemingly caused massive trauma at VW; it took the company a full 13 years to launch a successor. The Scirocco III was previewed by the Iroc concept in 2006; this writer was present as characteristically cocky VW CEO Wolfgang Bernhard unveiled the aggressively shaped shooting-brake-style concept. It was one of his final appearances as the head of VW before he and chief designer Murat Günak were asked to leave the company.
The new VW boss, Martin Winterkorn, was no fan of the third Scirocco’s shape, particularly its voluptuous posterior, but it was too late to change much in the transition to production. The gaping grille was toned down, but that was pretty much all that could be done. The interior design was fairly humdrum due to a plain dashboard taken directly from the Eos for cost reasons.
Nonetheless, the third-gen Scirocco, based on the Golf V’s PQ35 platform, remained in production for almost a decade, its lineup eventually crowned by the Scirocco R, which made 276 horsepower in its final iteration. We were lucky enough to drive—and test—an R on U.S. soil, and while it was all kinds of fun to drive, it was somewhat traction limited. Unlike the Golf R, the top-shelf ’Roc was never offered with all-wheel drive.
Now the Scirocco is gone, and while VW had long planned a replacement for the Scirocco and even pondered a market launch in the United States, the car fell victim to the diesel scandal and the resultant new priorities within the company. These include lowering costs and a focus on creating a full lineup of electric cars to be sold alongside conventionally powered cars. The Scirocco might return sometime in the distant future, but we wouldn’t hold our breath. We couldn’t be more bummed.