Volkswagen Eos Review

volkswagen eos review

There is no way to overstate the appeal of the new Volkswagen Eos’ folding hardtop. I sat inside the car for ten minutes, opening and closing the lid, marveling at the mechanism’s precision and design. What kind of mind can develop something that folds and unfolds with such infinite grace? If you like to visit high speed factories spitting out hundreds of widgets per minute, filling them with liquids and shrink wrapping them in three swift motions, then you will never tire of lowering and raising the Eos’ five-piece hardtop. As for the rest of Vee Dub’s CSC (coupe-sunroof-convertible), it’s danger, boredom ahead.

All the time, effort and money VW’s engineers spent creating and manufacturing the Eos’ hardtop must have been scrimped from the company’s design department. Although there’s plenty of concave and convex “flame surfacing” in the usual places (wheel arches, door bottoms), there’s nothing even mildly warm about the Eos’ overall look. While the detailing takes German minimalism to the next level (dull and insipid), the proportions are the real passion killer. The overhangs are grossly mismatched, the ascending beltline says “tip-toeing bathtub” and the rearwards sloping rear deck is just plain wrong. At best (i.e. after you buy one), the Eos is “cute.” For those of us who remain on the sidelines, "homely and unlovable" is closer to the truth.

As befits a car that was shown as a concept just 18 months ago, the Eos’ interior is a parts bin special. Although the fascia is all new, all the bits slotted in are standard Golf fare— and none the worse for it. It’s a clean look with faultless ergonomics, from cosseting chairs to simple controls. Our tester’s Sport package (about $3500) adds some much needed spizzarkle– aluminum trim and wikkid dials– to the cabin’s otherwise dour demeanor. There aren’t a lot of high tech toys, but the [optional] satellite radio gets channeled through an [optional] mini Marshall stack and the [optional] corner steering xenon lighting makes drivers feel positively Lexian.

Pistonheads note: the folding hardtop VW Eos is no one trick pony. Provided you stump-up for VW’s dual shift gearbox (DSG), it’s a one-and-a-half trick pony. The superb paddle shift system, which has transformed ugly ducklings like the VW GTI and Audi A3 into F1 soaring Eagles, turns the Eos into a runt swan. Credit the extra weight of the hardtop top, its motor and the chassis strengthening needed to maintain torsional rigidity. It does nothing for the car’s dynamics, except spoil them.

VW’s press site pegs the Eos’ curb weight at 3503 lbs. That would make the Eos (which sits on a modified Passat platform) just 195 pounds heavier than a GTI. It feels three times that. Even under full throttle, the DSG labors to make anything happen. The razor-sharp small VW driving experience is decidedly dumbed down. Our tester had the base engine: a 2.0-liter, 200hp, turbocharged four. This mill, so willing and frisky in all the other VW/Audi executions, feels overwhelmed and peaky in this application. If you want to buy this top– I mean car, wait for September, when the factory starts building the Eos with a 250hp V6.

Of course, the Eos’ ponderousness steals more than the accelerative joy normally derived from this engine and transmission combination. The “I can’t believe this is a front driver” handling experience from the GTI is lost as well. Understeer is the party guest from Hell, arriving early and staying late. The props top also seems to unbalance the equation vertically; the Eos navigates curves like an ungainly and top heavy SUV. In addition to the nautical motions, you also get a maritime soundtrack: the top creaks and groans over rough patches like an old wooden schooner.

If the Jetta is all grown up, the Eos is an octogenarian. Its lethargic performance and high quality materials highlight the blue rinse effect. The pricing punctuates these observations. The 2.0-liter Eos starts under $30k, and quickly ascends in the high 30’s. The 3.2 will easily break $40k. Hardtop or no, the GTI is looking more and more like the pick of the litter.

Anyway, the Eos is clearly another “lifestyle” Volkswagen aimed at the empty nest/trustafarian market. While the Eos’ retractable hardtop is nothing new from the likes of the Mercedes (SL/SLK), we’re grateful that the new Vee Dub brings Germany's open and shut case to the masses. If Wolfsburg had attached their wundertop to a more attractive package, they would have had an instant classic. Instead, they’ve built a highly polished though dynamically dull machine whose appeal— and sales— will rely almost entirely on the novelty of its hood. Will that party trick be enough to move the metal? Absolutely.

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  • Michael Karesh Michael Karesh on Aug 27, 2006

    I'd been planning to drive one of these. But when I went to the dealer a few weeks ago, I had to choose between a manual GTI and DSG GLI. I'd already driven a manual GLI, so I went with the DSG car. Has anyone driven both the GLI and GTI? Do they feel any different?

  • Titan Titan on Sep 24, 2006

    I checked this site in the hopes of useful reviews in search of a new car. What I feel I found is a site organized by a group of testosterone driven teens. The language is trite with pre-packaged phrases, competition for sarcasm the rule. "My dog is better than your dog" disguised as a review. Those who can dig through the "review?" searching for some insight best not question it lest they be driven back by insults. I thought I was on CNet where juveniles argue over who's cell phones or mp3 players "rule". Nothing I found useful.

  • Cprescott IIHS has to stay relevant by changing the rules in mid-stream and then it gets to falsely claim a car is unsafe. Point of fact that most vehicles on the road passed the pre-existing test and that IIHS should only test NEW products to the new test and to let the current models alone. The clown who used to be the face of IIHS was an arrogant little troll who loved to get face time for his arbitrary changes that he imposed.I understand things change, but an ethical organization would have a set name for a test and when the test changed, so would the name and the new test could not be imposed upon a vehicle it already tested with the old one. The manufacturer could point to the prior passed test and that would have been ethical. I'm surprised that IIHS hasn't gone back years to show how the new standard would have failed all current vehicles ever made - the cars didn't get less safe, but the test would make you think so.
  • Arthur Dailey Nearly a decade since Suzuki withdrew from the N.A. markets? Seems like just yesterday. They did make some 'decent' cars for the budget conscious. The Sidekick, Vitara and Grand Vitara all being favourites among my friends/colleagues from the former Soviet Union. They respect the simplicity and versatility of these vehicles. Particularly when they have the traditional body on frame structure.
  • Arthur Dailey Had a 210 'Sunny', 2-door. It was a base model with zero options (for example a rubber floor without any carpeting), that we used as a courier style vehicle. It took all kinds of aggravation/bad treatment, received only minimal maintenance and never once complained or let us down.
  • Hifi God I want one. This thing is cool. And therein lies the problem. JLR makes such achingly seductive SUV's that will leave you stranded on the highway at 11pm in the rain. I've been seduced twice, it ended badly, but I'm not going to rule out bending over and grabbing my ankles again for Land Rover a third time.
  • Hifi Currently, GM's SC is not good. It is unsophisticated and doesn't offer many of the capabilities that other systems offer. It doesn't work on most roads, and the addition of "hundreds of thousands of miles in the US and Canada" is a drop in the bucket. Whoever suggested that it's better than Tesla's constantly-evolving AP must have rocks in their heads.
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