Car reviews - Volkswagen - Eos - coupe-convertible range
Styling, body rigidity, noise supression, security, performance, fuel consumption, equipment levels, safety features, value for money
Room for improvement
Optional wind blocker, can't open roof on the move, dull handling, TFSI's premium unleaded diet
5 Mar 2007
THE first and most important model release from a rejuvenated Volkswagen for 2007 comes just in time for summer, and adds a welcome new dimension to the poseur's coupe-convertible brigade.
Presenting an all-new VW take on the folding hard-top formula pioneered by Peugeot's 206 and then 207 CC, Eos follows the familiar cab-forward design of others in its class, including Holden's sharply priced new Astra TwinTop and the glass-roofed Megane CC.
Aside from being a striking new CC entrant with familiarly classy VW design cues, Eos introduces the first sliding and tiliting panoramic sunroof to the class, which should be a further boon for those that desire the security and protection of a hard-top for winter days along with the ability drop the roof for undiluted open-top motoring on summer days.
The addition of a large tilting and sliding glass sunroof adds a new dimension to the latest VW's already clever folding roof, with opens and closes with spectacular sophistication via a large chromed console button in 25 seconds - quicker than many in its class but not as quick as BMW's first folding hard-top model, the new 3 Series Convertible.
Oh, and it can't be opened or closed on the move like some do. Nor can the (optional!) wind blocker be used with rear-seat passengers on board.
The system is all-electric (no manual latching is required), there's an effective push-up wind deflector to reduce buffeting with the sunroof open, the roof opens to create a seamless, B-pillarless convertible that oozes style.
Rear sensors even warn of objects behind the vehicle that may foul the process, and the pair of clever pop-up rollover hoops don't degrade this convertible's looks like, say, the BMW Z4's fixed hoops do.
Not only does the Eos roof go one step further than the Meganed's folding glass roof, it results in a vehicle that's noticeably stiffer than both of its French-built rivals, with barely a trace of body flex or scuttle shake evident in even the most punishing of bumpy corners.
No, this is no SLK, but for a starting price of $48,000 nor does it cost nearly as much.
The result really is a four-seater coupe that to most will feel as solid as any fixed-roof vehicle, which is remarkablky free of squeaks and rattles but also doubles as a drop-top sun-soaker par excellence.
The jury's still out on whether it matches the Astra's external beauty, but there's no doubt its high-quality cabin is better to look at and more spacious to be in. Rear-seat passengers will enjoy a little extra legroom than afforded by the Holden (and the 307 and Megane too), whose rear seats are generally more claustrophobic.
But while rear-seat room might be class-leading, the thick Eos C-pillars restrict rear vision far more than a regular coupe - a trait of most coupe-convertibles.
As sturdy as the new Eos architecture feels, however, Volkswagen's first coupe-convertible is hardly a purist's delight.
Even with 15mm-lower sports suspension, the Eos tends more towards comfort than agility and its front-drive chassis shows its weight in tight bends, via a level of bodyroll, bump-steer and understeer no BMW would ever exhibit.
Of course, the upshot is superb ride quality on all manner of road surfaces (though tyre road on coarse-chip bitumen was pronounced on 18-inch wheels) and, to be fair, the clever standard stability control system, does an outstanding job of taming both turbo engines' eager torque output.
With ESP switched off, both the TDI and TFSI variants will easily light up the front wheels during ambitious cornering in lower gears. The TFSI's superior performance envelope and more inviting engine note seems more at home than the gruff-sounding TDI, but the diesel Eos makes up for this with a more muscular midrange, outstanding fuel economy and a $2000-cheaper pricetag.
Both cars offer more than enough performance for effortless overtaking, but out manual TDI returned an average of jusy 6.7L/100km following a concerted drive on Victoria's Great Ocean Road.
Combined with the VW Group's brilliantly seamless and responsive twin-clutch automatic transmission, the TDI DSG is surely the pick of the Eos bunch - especially when the quicker TFSI slurps 98-RON premium unleaded (at an average of 9.5L/100km during the launch drive, which including plenty of freeway work).
It's sure no Boxster, but at $20,000 less than Australia's only other diesel convertible, the Eos TDI certainly offers more value, more performance, more technology, more style and more dynamic ability than Saab's 9-3 TiD soft-top.
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