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Car reviews - Volkswagen - Eos - coupe-convertible range

Our Opinion

We like
Value for money, comfortable ride, standard sunroof, choice of good petrol and diesel engines
Room for improvement
Body wobble with roof down will put off some, plain design, no manual option, could sound more exciting

23 May 2011

IGNORE the new plain-Jane design and the Volkswagen Eos is classy top-down cruiser that can double as a comfortable coupe.

More of a cruiser than a bruiser, despite the availability of the strong GTI engine, the Eos still promises lots of sun-soaked fun.

Design is, of course, subjective, but few could argue the Eos looks sexy or exciting after its facelift. The front end simply looks like that of another Passat or Jetta.

With the new design language, that means it is mostly straight lines and hard edges replacing rounded elements of the last car. It still looks like a prestige model, but is missing out on any real emotion.

The design of the last model was starting to age, but the rounded headlights and tail-lights suited the sporty nature of the Eos.

At the back, new rectangular lights and a hard-edged boot-lid give the car a more planted appearance. VW has avoided the big bum that spoils some other metal hard-top designs.

VW did not change the interior design. Everything is in the right place and the quality of the surfaces is good, but it all looks plain. The large centre screen is a nice touch, but apart from that, the rest of the dashboard could be straight from a regular Golf.

Half of the plastic surfaces are soft and feel nice and the other half (mostly the bottom half) are hard. This is no big deal except that the centre console, against which some drivers will rest a leg, is hard.

Last year, Volkswagen decided to add leather seats as standard to the Eos and has maintained that position with the new car. That is a real plus and likely to be appreciated by customers buying a prestige convertible. They are nice seats too, not body hugging but supportive while allowing room for the more rotund among us. The soft leather is lovely looks expensive.

Heated front seats are also standard and that is a huge bonus for convertibles. This writer prefers driving top down on cool days rather than roasting in the sun, so seat heaters are very valuable indeed.

The Eos comes standard with a wind deflector, which pops up out of the top of the dashboard. Our test drive found that the wind deflector actually made more noise at both low and higher speeds.

Thankfully, the Eos cabin is fairly quiet and there isn’t really much turbulence to worry about when you put the windows up.

Thanks to its folding metal roof, the Eos is also quiet when cruising with the lid in place.

The metal lid also helps hold the body in place. As is the case with all four-seat metal top convertibles, the Eos does suffer from body wobble over bumps. How bad is it? Well, that depends on your tolerance level, but don’t expect the Eos to be as rigid as an MX-5.

While it is no worse than other models it directly competes against, it is a bit of a surprise Volkswagen didn’t move to stiffen the body and reduce the scuttle shake.

Chances are that most customers will be happy to put up with the wiggling, and the sight of the rear headrests moving in the rear-view mirror, for top-down driving pleasure.

The Eos is no Golf GTI, even though it may share its engine, but handles well enough for a four-seat convertible. It goes where you point it and appears to be agile enough for some spirited driving, while the ride remains comfortable.

That said the Eos feels at home cruising, especially when fitted with the entry level diesel that provides enough push for a reasonable pace without having to work hard.

The TDI Eos can lope along happily taking care of hills. Sure, it doesn’t have the outright performance of the petrol version, but it could well be better suited to the cruisy nature of these four-seat convertibles.

The 155 TSI engine is a ripper, as you would expect. If anything it has more power than you need in a front-drive convertible. Thanks to its ample supply of low-down torque, wheelspin is a possibility when accelerating enthusiastically.

A rorty exhaust note delivers a ‘thrump’ sound when the Eos clears its throat between gear changes, along with a hint of grumble when backing off the throttle.

As expected, the six-speed DSG automatic is a competent transmission, with well-executed shifts when left in automatic mode. The lack of steering wheel paddles has us baffled.

This is supposed to be a sporty car, so why couldn’t Volkswagen fit a couple of plastic paddles? Maybe, this is an admission the company sees the Eos as more of a cruiser than true sports car.

While it is a drop-top, the Eos is still relatively practical, with accommodation for four people, although taller passengers need to hunch a little to avoid touching the roof in the rear seat. Still, there are many coupes around with far less rear headroom.

The boot is substantial with the roof in place and there is still some room if you fold it down.

Looking at the standard equipment, it is possible to view the Eos as offering good value for money. It isn’t cheap, but it is a European four-seat convertible/coupe with leather heated seats and that means it is no rip-off.

Volkswagen missed an opportunity to make the Eos beautiful, but the conservative design doesn’t change the fact that it is a competent and relatively practical drop-top loaded with plenty of standard gear that makes a great cruiser.

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