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Want a convertible that's somewhere upscale of budget rental-car convertibles like the Chrysler 200, more refined than ragtop versions of pony cars like the Ford Mustang, more affordable than luxury convertibles like the BMW 1-Series Convertible or Audi A5, and more practical than roadsters like the Mazda MX-5 Miata? Your options in what sound like a middle ground for convertibles are surprisingly limited--and the understated and often overlooked Volkswagen Eos is one of your only picks.
While in appearance it's strictly a cruiser, a much more flamboyant personality lurks within—and, in our opinion, the Eos is one of the best-designed (and oft-omitted by shoppers) convertibles on the market.
Design-wise, the 2014 Volkswagen Eos is about as conservative as you can get with a convertible. It's handsome and straightforward, but inoffensive almost to an extreme. Inside, the swoopier cabin look and high-quality trims and materials add up to a much more charming impression.
There's also way more charm from the driver's seat than you might expect, given the exterior. Every Eos sports a 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (2.0T), paired with a dual-clutch gearbox (DSG). The DSG changes gears smoothly yet very quickly, doubling down on the engine's robust torque curve and bringing out a zippy, responsive feel. Handling is light and responsive, and overall this is a fun-to-drive small coupe.
Transitioning from coupe to convertible is really one of the things the Eos does best. Its retractable hardtop arrangement is tight, quick, and nearly flawless. In less than 25 seconds, a total of eight electric motors work in conjunction, unlatching the roof from the windshield header, flipping, folding, and tucking it neatly under the metal trunklid. The design looks neat, and it results in a handsome side profile up or down. We have noticed that wind turbulence isn't as great as it could be at speed, and the wind deflector itself is quite noisy.
Interior comfort is superb--especially if you're a larger adult and if you're sitting in the front seats. Compared to Volkswagen's hatchbacks like the Golf--and even the Beetle--the driving position is a bit more laid back, and the seats feel a little more plush and better bolstered, as if this were truly making a play for the luxury-coupe market. The back seat is tight--more like that of a cozy 2+2--but it's easier to get into and out of than in most rival models, and that itself makes it quite usable for an evening cruise with the kids. Cargo space is limited--in part because of the neat folding top--but you can carve out a few extra cubic feet by flipping up a movable trunk liner and leaving the top up.
For 2014 the upmarket Lux model of the Eos has been discontinued, leaving the base Komfort, the more spirited Eos Sport, and the top-of-the-line Executive. The Sport gets a lowered sport suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, front fog lamps, and an eight-speaker touch-screen audio system, as well as black exterior mirrors, a rear spoiler, brushed stainless-steel pedals, and adaptive front lighting with bi-xenon headlamps. Executive equipment includes a rearview camera system, a navigation system, a different 'Kansas' alloy wheel design, and 600-watt Dynaudio premium audio with ten speakers and HD Radio. VW's Car-Net telematics service is newly available, and Komfort and Sport trims have a new (and much-improved) navigation ssytem.
Pricing may prove a sticking point for some shoppers, though; as the base Eos starts just a few thousand dollars higher than where you'd think it might be in the market. For 2014, it starts at around $35k, and the Executive tops $42k--which puts it just a couple grand below the more prestigious Audi A5 Cabriolet.
- Smooth, well-designed folding hardtop
- Responsive powertrain
- Premium cabin appointments
- Awesome ride and handling
Next: Interior / Exterior »
- Nondescript exterior
- Small trunk
- Noisy wind deflector