Handsome, sleek, luxurious and fast; our much-anticipated first experience in VW’s impressive coupe was an enjoyable one. But would it be our VW hatch of choice?

The Scirocco R is a hard car to quantify, as its position in the VW line-up is confusing. Though they share a platform and drivetrains, the Scirocco is presented as the sportier, more stylish coupe in comparison to the Golf family hatchback. In terms of style, the Scirocco R instantly impresses. The sleek lines, the low, wide stance, the big sports alloys and front air scoops really lend an air of performance to the car.

The good news continues inside. As with any VW top-spec model, you get luxury that punches way up into premium territory, with figure-hugging leather sports seats, a highend stereo system and a very well built feel to everything. There are also subtle hints of performance everywhere, such as the R-badge on the steering wheel and seats, the DSG gearshifter, and most prominently, the three gauges on top of the dash showing turbo pressure, oil temperature and lap time.

Driving the Scirocco R is a pleasure as well – it’s smooth, powerful and fast, with VW’s lovely turbocharged 2.0l FSI inline-four engine that delivers a hefty surge of power with a satisfying growl when the turbo kicks in. However, when you start comparing the stats between the Scirocco R and the two performance Golfs, the GTI and the R, the picture becomes a lot more complicated. So, let’s break it down:

In the Scirocco R the FSI engine puts out 276hp. The Golf GTI and the Golf R both use the slightly different TSI engine, though it is also a turbocharged 2.0l inline-four. On the Golf GTI it’s rated at 217hp, and on the Golf R, which is where things get surprising, the engine puts out the most, at 296hp.

Of all three, the Golf R is the only one that offers all-wheel-drive, whereas the other two are both front-wheel-drive. On the Scirocco R this means understeer, and even more so than on the Golf GTI, which is a much lighter and more nimble car. However, the Scirocco, with its extra 50 horses, definitely feels faster than the Golf GTI, especially when that turbo kicks in.

So, in terms of both performance and price the Scirocco R sits between the Golfs. If you’re on a budget the Golf GTI is the least expensive of the three by a few thousand dinars, and provides excellent value in terms of enjoyment and quality.

However, where decisions become really tough is between the Scirocco R and the Golf R, which are only separated by a few hundred dinars. If you like the sleek and stylish coupe look, then the Scirocco is the car for you. But that coupe design does come at a price. The smaller boot hatch, with a very raised lip, also means that access to the boot space is less practical than on a Golf.

And then there is the split rear seating, which means you can only carry a maximum of four passengers, to the Golf’s five. So here’s the rub: Yes, the Scirocco R is a stunning looking car, and yes the interior is stylish, cosy and well appointed. However, for just a few hundred dinars more, you can get the Golf R, which is more practical, more powerful, and all-wheel-drive. So, ultimately, it comes down to preference. Do you want a Scirocco, or do you want a Golf? While we loved the Scirocco R, as petrol heads we’d have to go with the Golf R.