The Volkswagen Eos offers the best of both worlds – top-down motoring when the weather or mood permit, and hardtop isolation and comfort the rest of the time. The ability to switch between the two results in an all-season car that is equally comfortable in January or July – both with style.
There are numerous larger and higher-priced cars wearing BMW, Lexus and Mercedes badges with folding hardtops, but the Eos is one of a shrinking set of small convertibles with this combination. Only the BMW 1-Series and Chrysler 200 come to mind as alternatives, with the BMW Mini a possible consideration with its partial hard roof.
Introduced in 2007 as a replacement for the Golf Cabriolet, the Eos, named after the Greek goddess of the dawn, recently underwent a mid-cycle makeover that gave it a new grille, bumpers, head and tail lights. The changes inside include a new multi-function steering wheel, upgraded audio system and a keyless access system that also allows the top to be open or closed through the remote.
The five-piece, electrically-operated roof consists of an amazing array of 470 parts, including an eight-cylinder electro-hydraulic pump carried alongside the spare tire; it folds intricately into or out of the trunk in 25 seconds. When down, it folds completely out of the way with no nasty gaps or ugly canvas humps to spoil the lines. Top up or down, the lines remain sleek and attractive. A far cry from the Golf convertibles the Eos replaced.
For 2013, it has been further enhanced by the unique addition of a powered tilt and slide glass sunroof within one of those five panels allowing the occupants to enjoy the sun and fresh air in a variety of ways. This is not a tiny glass slot, but one that is 1,117 mm by 558 mm. On models equipped with the sunroof, the portion of the roof behind it is made of matching tinted glass.
When the top up, the Eos provides sedan-like levels of quiet and 300 litres of cargo capacity. When it is lowered, you lose 110 litres of cargo space, but gain the numerous benefits of a convertible. There is a folding wind blocker that attaches behind the front seats and very effectively reduces cockpit turbulence in the cockpit when the top is lowered, albeit at the cost of two passengers.
The interior is brighter than you might expect from Volkswagen with a combination of dark and light colours. There are also different textures and an absence of hard plastic surfaces. Both major and minor controls are straight out of the Golf and operate with welcome smoothness and precision. The standard dual-zone climate control system senses the amount of sunlight and radiant heat entering the car and adjusts each side accordingly.
The front seats adjust in a myriad of directions. Rear-seat occupants will find as much space as in many subcompact cars’ although there is a not a lot of legroom, mind you. There is no pretense of three seats in the rear, the two sides being separated by a hard centre console.
The test vehicle displayed slight loss of structural integrity with the top down. Not as much as convertibles of the past, but enough to remind you that chopping the top off a vehicle has an effect. This might also account for a couple of small rattles and squeaks. With the top in place, the cowl shake all but disappeared.
Much of this might also have been magnified by the low-profile (40-series) tires of the top-trim-level model I drove with their stubby sidewalls and inability to absorb road imperfections. The ride was great on billiard-table-smooth surfaces, but brittle on more normal, frost-heaved roads. The upside is impressive handling. All of the suspension components, shared with other VW products, have been modified for the Eos, resulting in good balance and less understeer than expected.
The one and only engine available on the Eos is one of the best fours on the market. The turbocharged, intercooled and directly injected 2.0-litre is a staple in the Volkswagen/Audi family. Producing 200 horsepower in this application, it was mated to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, also one of the best of its ilk. With maximum torque available from only 1,700 rpm, the result is satisfying performance under low- and high-speed conditions and impressive fuel economy.
Most consumers associate the Volkswagen name with affordability. This one stretches that perception. The base price tops $40,000, including freight, the first sign this is a different VW; the bottom line for the test vehicle was just under $50,000.
The Eos is available in two trim levels – Comfortline and Highline. Standard equipment includes power heated mirrors, park distance control system, folding hardtop with integrated panoramic sunroof, alloy wheels, air conditioning, cruise control, power windows and locks, heated front seats and a tilt and telescope steering wheel.
This fun-in-the-sun four-seater loses nothing in the dark depths of winter, ideal for our harsh winters and short summers.
2013 Volkswagen Eos 2.0 TSi Highline
Type: Four-passenger compact convertible
Base price: $39,075; as tested, $49,765, including freight
Engine: Turbocharged, 2.0-litre, four-cylinder with direct injection
Horsepower/torque: 200 hp/207 lb-ft
Transmission: Six-speed, dual-clutch automatic
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 9.5 city/6.7 highway; premium recommended
Alternatives: BMW 1-Series, Chrysler 200 convertible, Mini Cooper Convertible