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A step up from the budget-minded four-seat Chrysler 200 convertible, but remote as it can be from something more evocative like a Mustang, Camaro or MINI Cooper convertible, the Volkswagen Eos glides into another model year with few changes. The Eos is a cruiser at heart, without the overt performance edge of the Miata or Audi TT, even, but it's more flamboyant with power and handling than you might suspect, especially if your first encounter's a top-up one.
Let's be blunt. The Eos looks bland when the roof is raised. With hints of the old VW Cabrio from years ago, and too little of the tightly drawn curves on the European-market Scirocco coupe, the Eos can look a little thick and ungainly when its three-piece power folding top is in passenger-protection mode. Some of us really like its neatly finished, straightforward looks, but the market has spoken. However, when the top is lowered--it's a single push of the button and 25 seconds away--the Eos gets a little more sexy. Maybe it's the view into the cabin that counts--it's one of VW's typically high-quality efforts, and the controls and materials are streamlined and of high quality, with just a few touches of brightwork and a tidy look just a bit more rakish than that of the current Golf or GTI.
There's just one drivetrain offered with the Eos, and it teams VW's excellent 2.0-liter, 200-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder with either a six-speed manual or the preferred dual-clutch (DSG) automatic transmission. With either gearbox, the front-drive Eos feels strong and responsive, thanks mostly to the turbo's well-timed boost, which comes on low and stays very steady throughout a wide part of the powerband. The Eos' relaxed look belies handling that's better than the profile may suggest: the suspension's firm enough to hang tough in tricky corners, and the Eos feels planted in higher-speed sweepers. It's remarkably secure in feel for a front-drive convertible, though dynamically, it's no sports car. The brakes are strong and reassuring, too, which plays along well with its eager feel.
The Eos is quite comfortable, if you're a larger adult and if you're sitting in the front seats. The driving position is a bit more laid-back than in the Golf, and the seats feel a bit more plush and better bolstered than in that basic hatchback. While it can carry four adults, the Eos' back seat feels more like the buckets in a cozy 2+2. Rear-seat legroom is minimal, and with the roof up, the Eos can feel confining back there. Trunk space isn't so generous either, though when the roof is raised, a movable trunk liner can be flipped up to carve out a couple more cubic feet of room.
Like the top on the Volvo C70 convertible, the Eos' roof tucks away quickly, using eight motors to fold its three panels into place in under 25 seconds. The convertible roof also has a setting that opens the front section only like a sunroof.
Safety scores from the IIHS rank the Eos as "good" in front and side impacts. The roof mechanism is backed up by pop-up roll bars that deploy if a rollover is detected. Parking sensors are an option, but the Eos doesn't come with a rearview camera.
The Eos comes with the usual power features; climate control; the power-folding hardtop; and an AM/FM/CD player. High-end options include a sport package; a Dynaudio surround system; satellite radio; Bluetooth; and hard-drive-based navigation with music storage.
- Pushbutton sunshine
- Dual-clutch responsiveness
- Premium cabin trim
- Ride and handling are responsive
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- Styling's a bit anonymous
- Trunk space is meager
- Noisy wind deflector