Volkswagen calls Eos a ‘365-day cabriolet’

Posted Friday, Jul. 18, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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2014 Volkswagen Eos convertible

The package: Compact, four-door, four-passenger, front-drive, four-cylinder powered, hardtop coupe/convertible.

Highlights: Added to the lineup in 2007 and updated for 2012, this is Volkswagen’s first convertible with a retractable hardtop, which makes it two vehicles in one – a drop-top and a sport coupe. Performance is impressive, with superb handling and acceleration.

Negatives: As with most convertibles, the trunk has limited space with the top down.

Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder.

Transmission: Six-speed DSG Tiptronic automatic.

Power/torque: 200 HP./207 foot-pounds.

Length: 173.5 inches.

Base curb weight: 3,569 pounds.

Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.

Electronic stability control: Standard.

Side air bags: Front seat-mounted side bags standard (not available for rear passengers).

Trunk volume: 10.5 cubic feet (top up); 6.6 cubic feet (top down).

Fuel capacity/type: 14.5 gallons/unleaded premium recommended but not required.

EPA fuel economy: 22 mpg city/30 highway/25 combined.

Major competitors: Volvo C70, Lexus IS C.

Base price range: $35,595-$42,095, plus $865 freight.

Price as tested: $39,190, including freight (Sport model, no options).

On the Road rating: 9.2 (of a possible 10).

Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.

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Because it was either way too hot or way too wet, my recent test of the Volkswagen Eos was completed mostly with the top up. But unlike most convertibles, the Eos is designed as much for top-up motoring as top-down.

That’s because the Eos (base price $35,595 plus $865 freight) has a retractable hardtop, so that when that top is up, it’s just like having a sporty coupe, and it’s ready for any kind of weather.

The top is unique for a convertible in that it also includes a tilt/slide sunroof, so you can enjoy some level of overhead view even with the top closed. It’s a panoramic sunroof – 44 inches wide and 22 inches from front to rear. Volkswagen says this is the only convertible sold in America that also incorporates a sunroof.

Having a solid top that closes tightly, the Eos keeps its passengers out of the weather when they need (or want) to be. But in about half-a-minute, the car can drop its top and expose those inside to the fun of open-air motoring.

In Northern Virginia, where Volkswagen has its U.S. headquarters, convertible weather is a short few months through the middle of the year; the rest of the time, the hardtop of the Eos comes in quite handy.

Here in Texas, the season for open-top driving is longer, but unlike up North, summer is not a good time to put the top down, at least not in the middle of the day. We find good convertible days throughout most of the rest of the year, though, so drop-top cars are more in demand here than in colder climates.

Volkswagen calls the Eos a “365-day cabriolet,” marketing it as a vehicle suitable for everyday driving. It’s one of two convertibles in VW’s U.S. lineup. The other, the Beetle, comes with a soft top, and starts at $25,170 (plus $820 freight).

For 2014, there are three trim levels for the Eos, down from four last year. The base model is the Komfort; the top model is the Executive ($42,095); and the midlevel model is the Sport ($38,325), which we tested for this report.

VW introduced the Eos for 2007, and gave it a major update just two years ago. The Sport version was added last year.

Besides the standard features of the Komfort model, the Sport also gets a lowered sport suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, black exterior mirrors, brushed stainless-steel pedals, a multifunction steering wheel with paddle shifters, and adaptive bi-xenon headlights.

Under the hood of all models is Volkswagen’s turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine, rated at 200 horsepower and 207 foot-pounds of torque. It’s connected to a six-speed Tiptronic DSG automatic transmission.

EPA fuel-economy ratings are 22 mpg city/30 highway/25 combined..

With its light weight – just 3,569 pounds – the four-cylinder engine gives the Eos great performance. When the turbo kicks in, it feels like you’re driving a muscle car with a V-8.

During our test, using the Eos as mostly a hardtop sport coupe, we found this vehicle to be quite satisfying even if we didn’t get to put the top down much. It’s a fun vehicle to drive, and it has exterior styling that looks almost as good with the top up.

The transmission features VW’s DSG automatic double-clutch system, which allows it to change gears more efficiently than a human could change the gears on the manual transmission. The Tiptronic feature allows the driver to shift manually, without having to worry about a clutch.

As with the Beetle ragtop, the Eos seats up to four people rather comfortably, so it’s not in the same class as the two-seat roadsters on the market, such as the BMW Z4.

Competitors of the Eos are vehicles such as the Lexus IS C and Volvo C70, both of which have $40,000-plus starting prices, but also have folding hard tops. Neither of those offers a sunroof, though.

The Eos is the newest and most expensive in a long line of Volkswagen convertibles, going back to the Karmann Ghia and including ragtops such as the original Beetle, and the Rabbit/Golf cabriolets.

Using a switch on the center console, the electric-operated roof can be opened completely in 25 seconds, and the sunroof folds away into the trunk with the rest of the roof when the top is lowered. The switch also lowers or raises the windows.

The front section of the roof incorporates the sunroof, which can be opened completely or tilted upward. When closed, the roof curves in an arc between front and rear, giving the car its sporty coupe appearance. Our tester had the beautiful Candy White exterior, with the Titan Black leatherette interior.

Another advantage to having the steel roof is security. With the roof up and the doors locked, the car is harder to break into. Thieves often break into conventional convertibles by slashing open the canvas or vinyl top, an act of vandalism that often costs more to repair than the value of anything stolen from inside the vehicle.

The Eos has a low profile and a wide stance, so it’s quite stable in turns – something we found out during some driving on some really fun twisty roads. This agility also will come in handy during extreme maneuvers to avoid collisions.

The sporty and elegant interior is among the best in the industry for a car in this price range.

Trunk space is a generous 10.5 cubic feet with the top up, but that is cut to 6.6 cubic feet with the top down. If you’re on a trip and have much luggage, you’ll probably need to put some of it in the back seat if you want to drive with the top down – as long as you don’t bring rear-seat passengers along.

Standard features on even the base model include automatic dual-zone climate control, front fog lamps with cornering lamps, a premium touch-screen radio with eight speakers, power windows/mirrors/door locks with pushbutton start, cruise control, leather steering wheel/shift knob/brake handle; automatic headlights; 12-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support, heated front seats and washer nozzles, wind blocker, center armrest and a trip computer.

Among the safety features are electronic stability control, antilock brakes, safety-optimized front headrests, specially developed front-side head/thorax air bags, and tire-pressure monitoring.

There were no options on our test vehicle. Total sticker price was $39,190, including freight, for our Eos Sport model.

The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at chambers@star-telegram.com.

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