The Truth About Cars » Cabrio The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 21:27:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Cabrio Review: 2012 Volkswagen Eos Wed, 09 Nov 2011 19:45:43 +0000

Thirteen years after the Mercedes-Benz SLK reintroduced the hard top convertible, the novelty has once again begun to wear off in the face of concerns about cost, complexity, and curb weight. Even high-end manufacturers like Audi, BMW, and Jaguar have fit their latest convertibles with soft tops (albeit multi-layered ones to retain heat and keep out noise). In other words, the retractable hard top has not rendered ye olde ragtop obsolete. This isn’t to say that the retractable hard top is pointless, at least not when innovatively executed. The recently updated Volkswagen Eos remains the best. But would you want one?

The Eos’s exterior styling remains consistent with the VW brand. Meaning it’s much more clean and functional than drop-dead gorgeous. The revised, de-chromed nose is more generic, but an improvement nonetheless. The top’s novel configuration avoids the poorly located side rail seams that mar the appearance of the otherwise more stylish Volvo C70. Inside, the Eos is similarly very VW, with an instrument panel similar to other compact Euro-market VWs. So clean and solidly-constructed, but nothing flashy or notably luxurious.

As in a number of other VWs and Audis, the driver’s seat is firm and supportive, but is not especially comfortable despite the inclusion of a four-way power lumbar adjustment. You’ll find a far better seat in a Volvo. Visibility is pretty good in all directions. The rear seat is just roomy enough for the average adult male to side behind another such male. If either person is six-plus-feet-tall, though, the fit is going to be tight.

The top is truly the big story. If you’re not interested in it, then you’re not interested in the Eos. VW’s key innovation: separating the center panel from the side rails. This enables a number of unique advantages:

  1. A superior exterior appearance when the top is up, as noted above. The separated side rails can stow to each side of the rear seat, so they can be longer than a one-piece center panel could be.
  2. An extra-wide rail-to-rail fully functional glass sunroof within the retractable hard top. So you can get some light in the car even with the roof up. Or, to get a little air in the car without fully opening the roof, vent or open the sunroof.
  3. A compact retracted roof, in sharp contrast to the much simpler roof of the late, unlamented Pontiac G6 hard top convertible. Even with the top down there’s enough room in the trunk for my usual weekly grocery run. With the top up, trunk space expands from 6.6 to 10.5 cubic feet. And there’s a pass-through to the rear seat for long objects in either configuration.

You simply cannot buy any other car with a roof this versatile. VW even includes a standard wind blocker that covers the rear seat to enable comfortable top-down driving on cool days, and that easily fits in the trunk when not in use.

Of course, the roof also has downsides. The first: with so many motorized pieces, it’s extremely complex. While my sons were highly entertained by the top’s “transformer” effect when in transition, the reliability survey conductor in me must wonder how durable this mechanism will be, and how much it would cost to fix if it did break. Even with the nearly new tested car the top proved finicky. On cold mornings it visibly shook and audibly creaked while traversing patchy pavement. (To keep the seals supple, regularly apply Krytox GPL lube, which runs $50 for two ounces.) Get the trunk’s cargo separator just a bit out of place, and the top won’t go down. Other times the windows wouldn’t move up or down in response to my initial request. And once the windows started rapidly going up and down a fraction of an inch, as they do whenever a front door is opened.

The second downside: curb weight. Tipping the scales just north of 3,500 pounds, the Eos is over 400 pounds heavier than a GTI. So VW’s ubiquitous 200-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine feels a bit soft off the line and more laggy at middling speeds. Unlike some these days, you can tell it’s a turbo. Once boost is up, though, the 2.0T moves the Eos forward more than well enough given the car’s typical cruising mission. You don’t have to rev the engine, given its plump midrange. If you want to do so anyway, the mandatory ultra-quick-shifting DSG dual-clutch automated manual transmission is eager to assist. Manual mode works via the lever; there are no shift paddles.

The extra curb weight appears to have cut two-to-three MPG from the Eos’s rated fuel economy, 22/30 vs. 24/33 for the GTI. In suburban driving the trip computer reported from 23 to 26, depending on my driving style. Not bad numbers for a four-seat turbocharged convertible.

In casual driving the Eos feels taut, sporty, almost agile, and much more enjoyable than a Chrysler 200 (the only other hard top four-seat convertible with a price in the mid-thirties). The VW’s steering provides little feedback, but it’s quick and nicely weighted. Drive the Eos as you might a GTI, though, and it lapses into a clumsy plow as its higher center of gravity (especially with the top up) and extra pounds overwhelm the capabilities of the suspension and 235/45HR17 Goodyear Eagle LS tires. The tires do contribute to a generally smooth, quiet ride.

The final downside of the complicated top: price. At $34,765 in its base trim with no options, the Eos lists for $6,950 more than a GTI with DSG and the Sunroof and Convenience Package. Aside from the retractable hard top, the feature level is very similar (according to TrueDelta’s Car Price Comparison Tool), so you’re paying about seven large for the top (in addition to the cost of a sunroof, which is included in the GTI as configured). Not that you’ll do better elsewhere. A Chrysler 200 Limited hard top convertible costs about the same, while a Volvo C70 lists for $6,000 more.

The Volkwagen Eos doesn’t handle like a sports car, or even like a hot hatch. Its styling doesn’t suggest otherwise. But some people are merely seeking a solid, sensible, livable car with a versatile roof that lets them enjoy the sun and fresh air to the maximum extent the weather permits. For this mission, the Eos serves best.

Volkswagen provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data.

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Where's my Golf Cabrio? Eos trunk Eos top up side Eos sunroof Eos side Eos rear seat Eos rear quarter 2 Eos rear quarter Eos interior Eos instrument panel Eos front Eos engine Eos cargo Autobots transform ]]> 73
New or Used: The Short and Pokey Commute Mon, 06 Jun 2011 09:03:23 +0000 Brady Writes:

Dear Steve/Sajeev,

I’m a 35 year old physician with wife and 2 kids, who has happily made do with a succession of automatic VW Passat wagons, first a chipped 2000 and now a 2010 I use to reverse commute out of my large metro region. We’ll be moving to the oceanfront suburb of a small New England city this summer and I’ve got to select car #2. My commute will by short and pokey–7 miles each way, some of it along beautiful marshland and ocean, some of it not. Long haul family trips can be done in the Passat, but the second car should safely carry the kids in a pinch. Budget is 30-35k max. I’ve been thinking new v6 mustang convertible, but then again, is it time to invest in the future and, say, lease a volt? Or practical, comfortable fun in a new GTI/Golf TDI? Revisit a heavily depreciated bug convertible we used to love despite it’s crude underpinnings and tight back seat? Or take advantage of some older interesting vehicles–S4 cabriolet, 3 series convertible, or something I’m too boring to have considered?

Steve Answers:

What will make you happy?


That’s what you will have to figure out. The answer is almost limitless and you should take plenty of time to test drive whatever strikes your fancy. Since you already like Passats, I would start off with a 2008-2009 Audi A4 Cabriolet with low miles. Maintenance is absolute critical on these machines due to the overall fragility of VW products (don’t get me started).


But like a lot of ‘second car’ models, you can find a fair share of them with low miles in today’s market. Many of which will have CPO warranties and the all too essential books and records. Both the A4 and the more powerful S4 cabriolets can seat four people in the real world. The 08′-09′ time period I mentioned is also right about the time when Audi started making strides in their overall quality.

As for top of the line convertibles and hardtops, I have a very soft spot for the M3 convertibles. However so does every yuppie between Boston and San Francisco. The Audis will cost less money and will tend to not be nearly as abused as the M’s. Given your short commutes and beautiful scenery, I would play the field but start here first.

Sajeev Answers:

Brady, you need to see what you really want in a second car. Reading between the lines it needs to be topless, not insanely powerful with VW-sized proportions (Corvette LS3-FTL) and of premium intentions. That said, always buy a German ride with a factory warranty covering your entire ownership period.  The Mustang is a good long term value, but I don’t see you liking it over the long haul. Then again, prove me wrong.  Or really blow our minds and buy an LS-1 powered Miata, as that’s what you really need.  I’m serious!

My even more serious choice?  A MINI droptop, preferably a Cooper S.  And most definitely in Hot Chocolate paint, as the autobloggers-turned-Facebook-Admins at the Brown Car Appreciation Society demand it. The MINI is small, upscale, eco-friendly in appearance (though not really in practice) and drives like a firecracker.  You can fit kids in the back seat, especially if they must be punished for misbehavior.  And when the inevitable “repairs trump resale value” argument happens, the MINI has a strong following and hold their value quite well.  Especially compared to any and all Audis.


Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.


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Review: 2010 Mustang GT Convertible Mon, 21 Dec 2009 16:57:42 +0000 The pony warrior

Unless all the reviews you’ve read about the 2010 Ford Mustang appear in publications like Mustang Monthly, you probably know that the car is (a) an evolutionary improvement of the hold-over SN197 chassis and (b) still far from perfect. After a conflicting afternoon with a beautiful Red Candy Metallic 2010 Mustang GT Convertible [not pictured], I feel compelled to say something about how the Ford Mustang is currently situated in both the market and in our minds.

No doubt about it, Lee Iacocca had a great idea: building an all-new model on the inexpensive little 1960 Ford Falcon chassis, giving it Italian sports car styling cues and a galloping horse on the grille (in place of a prancing one), marketing it to the yet-to-be-catered-to Baby Boom generation – all completely brilliant. But as the market (and buyer demographics) changed, so did the Mustang’s place in it.

mustanggtvertThe first time I drove the completely redesigned 2005 model, I immediately knew that this pony was now (pun in 3…2…1…) “fording” much deeper water than ever before. Critics’ (and potential customers’) comparative statements no longer carried the distant echo of, “Wow, this car sure is a lot cooler than the Falcon.” Instead, they sounded like, “This car feels way cheaper and less refined than an Audi.”

And there’s the rub. Instead of riding fences, the Mustang now seems content to (conveniently) straddle them. Were the original formula still in place, today’s Mustang would be an el cheapo sport compact built atop a Focus platform, and everyone’s expectations would be much, much lower. As it is, the car seems to be aiming for a target that it can’t – at its current price point – profitably reach. But that depends on who you ask.

Ask my wife Becky (proud owner of a Candy Apple Red ’68 Mustang convertible…and my co-driver for the afternoon), and she’ll simply say that the new ‘Stang we drove was beautiful. And it was. The slightly dark red metallic paint contrasted beautifully with the saddle interior and 19-inch gray, five-spoke rims. Even though I don’t like the 2010 styling refresh, I still loved it (in the same way you love the looks of a perfectly preserved or restored example of a car you thought was ugly 20 years ago).

Good looks only carry a vehicle so far; once inside, you’ll immediately notice that functionality remains style’s jailhouse punk. Compared to the ’05-’09 Mustang, you’ll find even harder to decipher (but more retro than ever!) instrument faces, more restrictive (but now flip-up-door-covered!) cup holders, and an inexplicably taller (but soft to the touch!) automatic transmission shifter that obstructs climate controls more than before. Those opting for the manual transmission won’t be bothered by this last nuisance, and happily, the revised console storage bin now includes an integral lid that you won’t bump your elbow against while shifting. Unfortunately, the space inside is more awkwardly shaped (and seems smaller) than the departing binnacle – a big deal when you have to live every day with a car not known for its interior storage capacity. mustanggtvert3

One thing Mustangs are known for, though, is performance. And with more power than its predecessor, this horse seemed poised to run faster than any run-of-the-glue-factory GT ever has. Except that it didn’t. Maybe the car I drove was down on power, but after turning “off” the traction control and brake-torquing it as much as I could (to 2,300 RPM, which was as much as the brakes on my tester could hold – crazy, I know), I floored it, reeling off several tire-chirping (but not tire-spinning) sprints to sixty that – though untimed – registered as far, far slower on the seat-of-the-pants scale than the 2009 California Special I drove last year. The sonorous (thanks, engine-noise tube) 4.6-liter V8 sounded fine, and the 5R55S automatic transmission snicked off reasonably quick shifts. But even considering the tallish standard 3.31:1 final drive ratio (3.55’s and 3.73’s are optional), the acceleration was flatly disappointing.

Of course there’s more to performance than straight-line rocket-sleddery (even if the Mustang’s reputation doesn’t include much of it), and I thankfully got the chance to do the solid-axle shuffle on some decently twisty local blacktop. Overall, the chassis seemed well-balanced for its purpose. Hardcore horsepower hooligans may find it lacking after modding up more muscle from their Mustang’s modular mills (if not avidly avoiding alliteration), but as a complete package, the car’s handling capability nicely complements its stock 315 horsepower and is relatively benign as the beefy tires bite hard in corners, cooperating nicely with the much-improved steering feedback to inspire a lot more curved-road confidence than the outgoing model. Added bonus: It has a softer, quieter ride now, too. Just make sure you hit pot holes with both rear wheels.mustanggtvert1

I guess it’s fair to say that my impression of the 2010 Mustang GT Convertible and my opinion of the car are slightly different. My impression: After a fun afternoon in a beautiful drop-top, I found myself seriously disillusioned with the performance and ergonomics, but generally satisfied with everything else. My opinion: This pony is capable of playing in some rather uppity pastures, even if just barely. Still, judged in such company (A4, 3-Series, etc.), it will usually finish dead last. Compared to any previous Mustang, the 2010 is hands-down the best of the breed. But compared to other similarly-priced convertibles, it’s more of a dog.

Take it from this horse’s mouth: Ford employs some world-class bean counters, and they’ve done a swell job of assigning a plausible monetary value to nostalgia and the appeal of an iconic American image – a value that increases the Mustang GT’s price well above its true worth as a performance car. Synergy, perhaps? Uh, they only wish. For me, the bottom line is this: There are at least 40 other types of Mustangs that I’d rather spend $40,000 on.

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