When ‘need for speed’ is in yourblood it is hard to get rid of. It was love at first sight when Marcus Retieffirst saw the Scirocco at the International Car Show at Nasrec! Even though ithad not yet been launched in South Africa he knew that he needed to have one!
Marcus used to race motorbikes andquad bikes and an accident whilst racing quad bikes put him in a wheelchair. Itis always difficult to satisfy a speed junky but this gutsy little car has fedhis addiction. With its two-litre turbo-charged motor pushing out 155 kW, and arelatively light body, it seems to delight in the adrenalin rush it gives tothose along for the ride. It responds nimbly to the slightest request from theaccelerator, and stops just as easily when asked. The balance and handlingthrough the corners is pure addictive pleasure and its agility is comparable tothe speed, dexterity and grace of wheelchair basketball athletes in action.
When given the signal for speed, theexhaust gives a characteristic, throaty little pop as it slides through thegear changes. Without the pop you would not even know that it was changing gears as the Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) smoothes out the gear changes so thatthey can hardly be felt. The DSG is in fact a 6-speed manual gearbox but hasautomatic engaging clutches which do all the work for you. You can drive it inautomatic or change gears using the paddles on the steering wheel or use thegear shift.
Marcus has had his 2.0 TSI DSG forjust over six months and has already clocked close to 30,000 kms. His hungerfor speed and power have been so well fed that he now wants the cherry on thecake and has placed his order for the new Scirocco R, which has just beenlaunched in SA. This will give him 188kW to play with!
The Scirocco R has a heavily revised,two-litre TSI engine with a new cylinder head, uprated pistons and con rods,and high-pressure injectors. The turbo has also been tweaked to deliver 1.2 barof boost. It is available with the DSG gearbox which makes it easily driveablewith hand controls. Both models are front wheel drive, which in Marcus’ eyes isthe only downside of the Scirocco, as he prefers rear wheel drive.
VW's excellent Adaptive Chassis Control (ACC) lets you choose from three settings:comfort for motorways, sport for speed and normal for everything else. The ACC adjusts three things: the throttle map for better response, the steering forbetter feel and the damping for better control of the Scirocco's mass. It has afull house of safety features, including an Electronic Stability Programand front, rear and side airbags.
Driving 300 – 400 km per day isnormal for Marcus but, as far as he is concerned, the more time he can spend inhis Scirocco the better. The long hours spent in his car made him choose a carthat is a pleasure to drive, is comfortable and makes heads turn. He lovesseeing people’s expressions when the driver of the sexy coupé hops out and intoa wheelchair! He loves shattering the belief that people who use wheelchairsshould be at home in a cupboard! As South Africa’s wheelchair basketballcaptain Marcus does a lot to change that perception – and not just by driving asexy car!
The heated, leather bucket-seats,with electronically adjusted lumbar support, provide superb comfort along withgreat positioning and support giving Marcus the stability that he needs, particularly in high speed corners, as he has a T4 SpinalInjury, which means that he does not have much balance. The drivers’ seat isfully electronically adjustable making it easy for him to adjust the seatposition for driving and for transferring in and out of the car. It’s a pitythat it does not have memory settings on the seat positions – a lovely featurefor wheelchair users.
The cruise control is an essentialenergy saving feature, particularly when driving with hand controls over longdistances. It also saves plenty of money on speeding fines! The car picks upspeed so easily that you don’t notice how fast it is going, so the speedwarning is another essential fine prevention feature. You can set this atwhatever speed you want and, as soon as you go over that speed, it gives afrequent alarm to remind you to slow down.
The Chairman Industries hand controlswhich he drives with provide a relaxed driving action requiring minimal effortfor those long distances, they also do a great job of transferring thesensitivity of the brake and acceleration.
When Marcus first fell in love withthe Scirocco, it was the sexy exterior that caught his attention, then heopened the door to discover the immaculate interior. But it was more than immaculate; it was perfect for someone whoneeds to get in and out of the car from a wheelchair. Being a two-door car ithas a very wide door, with an entry width of 107cms. The doors open to almost 90 degrees which gives him heaps of space to get up close with his chair totransfer, as well as plenty of room when loading the chair into the car.
The passenger seat slides and foldsforward with an easy push, giving space to pass his wheels and chair throughonto the back seat.
When he is alone in the car he justpops it onto the front passenger seat next to him.
The space inside the vehicle makesthis task relatively easily – although admittedly the lightweight titaniumQuickie wheelchair also makes a difference! To prevent his pride and joy frombeing scratched when loading his wheelchair he has plastic wrapped the doorsill, which takes the hardest beating. The tough plastic protects the paintwork, easily lasts up to a year and, when the plastic is removed, the paintunderneath is virtually unscathed – protecting the re-sale value of the vehicle!
Traditionally coupés do not have muchboot space. When opening up the boot my initial impression was that thewheelchair wouldn’t fit through the opening, however the space is 100cm wide and 67cm long, much deeper than anticipated, and the wheelchair snuggled in,with room to spare!
For a small car, the space that theScirocco offers is unexpected. It may be a bit short of head room for the backseats but, since that is normally reserved for Marcus’ wheelchair, that is nota problem for him.
The extra features that the Sciroccooffers include automatic wipers than switch on when the windscreen gets wet,lights which turn on automatically when it gets dark, a multifunction steeringwheel which enables you to changechannels on the radio, answer your phone etc without taking your hands off thesteering wheel, a touch screen radio and a park distance control with the rearimage on the screen (an optional extra) that makes reversing so much easierwhen you are unable to twist your body and look out of the rear window.
The current price for this sportylittle coupé is R346,300 for the 2.0 TSI DSG. The Scirocco R DSG will set you backR417,855. Being fully imported it qualifies for a tax rebate when purchased bya person with a disability.