40 years after Volkswagen’s original Scirocco sports coupé made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show, the revised version of the third generation range-topping Scirocco R has now arrived in Australia.

Positioned between the five-door Golf GTI and five-door Golf R, the Scirocco R offers another distinctive and emotive design within the Volkswagen performance car range.

Externally, the Scirocco R’s shape has been refined and modernised with new headlights and tail lights, as well as revised bumper styling.

The revised front bumper features aerodynamic ‘blades’ in the outer section, like those on the latest-generation Golf GTI, with integrated indicator LED lights.

As the standalone Scirocco model in Australia, the Scirocco R comes with its own unique exterior styling kit; matte chrome-look door mirror caps; Bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights; 19-inch ‘Cadiz’ alloy wheels; black brake calipers with ‘R’ logo; sports suspension; adaptive chassis control; XDL electronic differential; R-specific sports seats; and a multifunction trip computer.

Inside, the dashboard has been updated, with new-look dials and an auxiliary instrument cluster above the centre console, consisting of a chronometer, charge pressure and oil temperature gauges – a tribute to the 1974 model.

The updated Scirocco R also receives a number of safety and convenience systems as standard, including a Rear View Camera (RVC) and front and rear parking sensors.

The updated Scirocco R retains the same powertrain with minor revisions to improve consumption and broaden the range of the torque output.

Deep front airdams and a razor-thin grille element with gloss black inserts are framed by distinctive chrome-backed headlight units.

Also of note: the Volkswagen roundel is not in its traditional position in the grille but rather on the bonnet.

Further back, pronounced haunches that sweep over the rear wheelarches are accentuated by a tapered sill line that pinches around the middle of the vehicle. These haunches f low into the slim high intensity rear light units and a wide hatchback boot, on top of which is a subtle aerodynamic wing. The Scirocco has frameless doors, a feature that further accentuates the car’s sporting credentials.

Although configured to appear low and wide, the Scirocco’s designers moved away from using a traditional coupé’s sloping roof. Instead the Scirocco has a steep hatch with a long roof and vertical tailgate, which brings two key advantages. The first is in design where the car’s unusual proportions give it a squat but purposeful appearance; the second and arguably more important, is that the upright rear and short overhangs give the Scirocco substantial space in the rear for two adults plus luggage. This means the car is not only stylish but is also practical, and capable of seating four above-average-height adults in comfort.

One of the less obvious revisions introduced in the 2014 Scirocco R is that the Volkswagen badge on the tailgate now functions as a handle.

Four sculpted sports seats offer comfort and support for all four passengers, while non-detachable headrests ensure safety at all times for rear seat occupants. A generous amount of interior space is also afforded by these seats. As they are positioned low in the car in true sports coupé style, they allow interior heights of 953mm in the front and 924mm in the rear, meaning ample headroom is available.

The rear seats can also be split (50:50) and folded to increase cargo space when necessary. A maximum 1006 litres is available in the Scirocco.

For convenience, the front seats offer rear passengers easy entry and exit to the back seats. When unlatched, they not only tip but also slide forward to maximise entry room. However, when they are put back, they automatically return to their previously set positions, meaning driver and passenger do not have to readjust their seats.

Naturally the two front seats are adjustable for height and reach, as is the steering wheel, while electrically adjustable lumbar support is offered as an option with leather upholstery.

In the cabin, the driver is treated to clear, easy-to-read displays with chrome-ringed and white backlit dials, plus ergonomically-designed switchgear. The RNS510 unit with hard disc-supported navigation system is standard in the Scirocco R. The system’s hard disc drive allows routes to be recorded while driving and re-traced, and songs to be stored and re-played. The dash-mounted unit is also a touchscreen, giving easy access to all stereo functions, and includes a six-CD autochanger, SD card reader and connection for external multimedia sources, for example an iPod or MP3 player.

Other design features include a contoured, flat-bottomed multifunction sports steering wheel and distinctive triangular grab handles on the doors. The interior is light, airy and surprisingly roomy, while the option of an electrically-operated tilting panoramic sunroof emphasises the feeling of spaciousness. In the top centre of the dashboard is a pod containing three sports instrument dials: oil temperature, turbo boost pressure and a chronometer.

The 188 kW TSI engine makes its return to the updated Scirocco R. Like all TSI engines, the Scirocco R’s powerplant combines the efficiency of direct-injection with the power of turbocharging.

The 1,984cm 16-valve, four-cylinder engine develops a maximum power of 188 kW at 6,000 rpm. Its maximum torque – a hefty 330 Nm – is available over an immense range of engine speed: 2,400 to 5,200 rpm.

This makes for agile responsiveness of the engine, which is able to summon torque at practically any speed range. The engine’s acoustic output impressively underscores its special kind of power development.

The exhaust system itself is designed as a double-flow system. Dual oval chrome tailpipes extend out from the bumper.

The Scirocco R once again is available with either a six-speed manual or dual clutch DSG transmission, both offering optimal performance and efficiency.

The Scirocco’s suspension system uses strut-type suspension at the front and a multi-link layout at the rear.

The Scirocco R features a sophisticated braking system, with ABS and ESP (Electronic Stabilisation Program) as standard. Ventilated discs are fitted at the front with solid discs at the rear (253mm).

The Scirocco R is fitted with large diameter brake discs of 345mm at the front, and 310mm at the rear.

The Scirocco R has a very low centre of gravity which presents some challenges. One of these is to retain adequate headroom for the occupants within the low overall vehicle height. Part of the solution is the incorporation of the tailgate hinges inside blisters in the roof, thereby allowing the roofline to be lowered and enhancing the dynamic appearance of the Scirocco without compromising practicality.