By on September 18, 2014

2012 Volkswagen EosRX-8, FJ Cruiser, XLR: just some of the recent nameplates which at one time generated healthy sales activity in the U.S., but after slowly fading in un-updated form, were put out to pasture. Now we can add to that list the Volkswagen Eos.

Cars like the Eos, which major on style over practicality, are prone to early bouts of desirability which wanes as newer, fresher, brighter, bolder, faster machines enter the fray. It’s not surprising to see interest in these vehicles dry up more quickly than it does with a midsize sedan or smaller crossover.

Consider the Chevrolet Equinox. Sales in the Equinox’s category have been steadily rising – vehicles such as the top-selling Honda CR-V and Ford Escape recorded record-high U.S. sales in 2013. But they are newer examples of the breed. The Equinox, on the other hand, was introduced in second-generation form for the 2010 model year. Yet in 2013 it, too, posted record-high U.S. volume.

On the other side of that coin, consider the Chevrolet Corvette. Although it’s a relatively common car for a vehicle of its type, at least in the United States, Corvette sales in its sixth iteration declined sharply in 2007, 2008, and 2009 and didn’t recover as the overall size of the new car market grew somewhat in 2010, growing only slightly in 2011 and 2012.

New is necessary. Corvette sales, now in C7 Stingray form, jumped 166% in the fourth quarter of 2013 and are up 236% so far this year. The Corvette is on track for its best U.S. sales year since 2006.

The Volkswagen Eos is certainly no Corvette, but neither were the Mazda RX-8, Toyota FJ Cruiser, or Cadillac XLR. (Actually, the XLR was sort of a Corvette.) The point stands, regardless. An automaker can’t introduce a sporty little convertible, even one without trackday intentions, and expect consumer interest to remain level during its tenure.

The first and only Eos has been around since the latter portion of 2006, when Mercury was selling a Montego – when Mercury was – and when an Eos buyer could have also looked at a Pontiac G6 GTP convertible.

Though facelifted, the Eos was always as it always was. Equipped with Volkswagen’s ubiquitous 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder or, in the early part of its lifespan, a 3.2L V6, the Eos was a relatively attractive front-wheel-drive convertible. Along with the front-wheel-drive Volvo C70, it was tasked with fighting premium Germans from below and affordable droptop performance cars from above.

Most definitely from above. Back in the beginning, Mazda would sell you an MX-5 PRHT for about $5000 less.

And yet, the Eos was a new thing, and thus, when Mazda USA sold 15,075 more affordable MX-5s in 2007, Volkswagen sold 12,744 Eos convertibles. And in 2008, the Eos actually outsold the MX-5. The Eos outsold the MX-5 again in 2010 and 2011. Isn’t this a recipe for printing money? Sell the more expensive car, the one that shares a great number of parts with countless other high-volume machines?

Yes, it was, until Volkswagen invited a Beetle Convertible back to the party. Volkswagen USA sold 4178 Eos cabrios in 2013 (down from a peak of 12,837 in 2008), a figure which compares unfavourably with Volkswagen’s 18,050 Beetle Convertible sales. That’s more than the Eos’s total from all of 2012, 2013, and the first eight months of 2014 combined.

The Eos is dead because, by VW’s choice, it hasn’t been at all new since 2006 and because, by VW’s choice, the iconic and ancient Beetle nameplate became new again.

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72 Comments on “The Volkswagen Eos Is Dead: Here’s Why...”


  • avatar
    thornmark

    That shot is probably its best angle. Not an attractive car. A little too much bathtub influence.

    Convertibles used to be sexy. Now, not so much, w/ a few exceptions. I guess it was OK for Buffy but certainly not a mistress for a man doing the midlife crisis thing.

    Also, it was overpriced.

  • avatar

    The Eos is also overpriced. $35K? No thanks. VW’s PQ35-based vehicles (including my Jetta SportWagen) are quite nice, but the value proposition drops sharply as you cross $30K (except the TT). There’s so much better out there for that price, including Camaro and Mustang Cabriolets…or a CPO IS-C , G37 cabriolet or VW’s own A5 cabriolet.

    And I think the Eos would have looked *so* much better with a soft-top. Design wise, the upcoming Buick Cascada does everything for me that the Eos doesn’t…and hopefully Buick’s compact FWD cabriolet starts $8K-$10K lower than the Eos.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    The Eos was VW’s attempt to move upmarket in the US. Growing up there were a fair number of VW Cabrios running around, of all vintages. At $18-$23k they were a decent, fun buy.

    But the Eos? This thing couldn’t have been put out to pasture soon enough. Good riddance.

  • avatar
    Marko

    The XLR had “healthy sales”? It never sold more than 3,730 per year.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Not exactly inspiring figures overall, but not terrible in the segement. We’re talking about a $100,000 2 seater Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      It wasn’t a Camry-beater, and it was going to be a challenge to touch the long-established SL and/or 911. But if Cadillac sold 3730 XLRs in 2013, that would have been more than the XK, GT-R, and R8 combined. Those aren’t high-volume cars, but nothing in the category of is. And given the price points in the segment and the fact that this was their first modern effort – it takes time to generate acceptance at that lofty price point – those weren’t terrible results.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The Lexus SC430 spanked XLR in total sales figures and mostly in sales YoY. The SL is the king of the segment in terms of production figures, but sales have dropped off since MY06. Did it make sense for GM to spend X hundreds of millions on a Cadillac Y-body spinoff, primarily for a North American audience, and only move about 15,460 total units? You make the call.

        On a personal note, I lament XLR due to its inevitable junkyard status due to its use of Northstar (but don’t worry ELR will be there quickly to keep them company).

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexus_SC
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercedes-Benz_SL-Class
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadillac_XLR

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “Did it make sense for GM to spend X hundreds of millions on a Cadillac Y-body spinoff, primarily for a North American audience, and only move about 15,460 total units? You make the call.”

          That production volume would have returned them over 1B in revenue, so if they spent in the hundreds of millions, then it wasn’t necessarily a money loser, even if it didn’t make sales expectations.

          The Lexus SC cost a good amount less than the XLR, so it’s not really surprising that it would sell more often.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Assuming $90K per unit: $1,391,400,000. But of this figure you’d have to figure out and subtract dealer markup and holdback costs. I suppose it may have been profitable.

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          Weren’t the Northstar’s head gasket issues resolved with a redesign in 2003-ish? The XLR came along right after this.

          A man in my neighborhood has one, and I have to say it’s aging very gracefully. Granted, I’m a fan of the Art & Science look, which I know isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “Weren’t the Northstar’s head gasket issues resolved with a redesign in 2003-ish?”

            So the legend goes…

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I honestly thought the XLR got the Corvette engine, and that’s why it was so expensive.

          You’re telling me it had a standard 4.6N*? No wonder nobody bought in.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            The Nothstar was much more expensive to produce than the Corvette LS engines. The XLR could be had with an NA 4.6L Northstar good for 320hp or a Supercharged 4.4l version good for 470 or so.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Wouldn’t billing it as a Corvette-engined luxo Caddy made it much more desirable?

            I feel that in the minds of consumers, LS V8 trumps N* – even those very fond of Cadillac.

          • 0 avatar

            The supercharged 4.4-liter Northstar was for the XLR-V. It was actually slightly down on horsepower (443 HP) versus the STS-V, which also used that engine (469 HP). The CTS-V, by contrast, has only ever had LS engines. I have driven the STS-V; it’s a hoot.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “I feel that in the minds of consumers, LS V8 trumps N*”

            All day, every day.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            Being OHV engines, a 472 or 500 will easily swap into the space formerly occupied by an OHC Northstar, no? ;-)

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Sure, one could simply shoehorn it in.

        • 0 avatar

          I don’t see what would relegate the ELR to junkyard status, even with the batteries. It’s probably more-reliable than most conventionally-powered cars.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Powertrain, parts availability, and desire to own/restore/collect.

            If all three of those check out, it might survive. I won’t be holding my breath.

        • 0 avatar
          Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

          Used w/good interior + LS swap = ?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            A “fixed” XLR. Trouble is the darn things are going for way more than they should be. So 15K + LS motor and pcm etc + labor = $20-25K or more? Salvage/R-title might be the only way to make it work.

            MY05 Cadillac XLS V8 Convertible

            09/12/14 PA Regular $17,500 27,235 Avg GREY 8G P Yes
            09/17/14 MILWAUKE Lease $10,300 57,484 Below RED 8G A No
            08/26/14 ORLANDO Regular $21,000 59,738 Above BLACK 8G A Yes
            09/17/14 ATLANTA Regular $17,800 79,440 Avg SILVER 8G A Yes
            08/21/14 DFW Lease $15,000 89,312 Avg RED 8G A Yes
            08/27/14 CEN FLA Regular $13,500 130,822 Below BLACK 8G Yes

        • 0 avatar
          snakebit

          Tim, I know your forte, your interest is in sales numbers. How, then, were you able to compare sales of the XK, 911, even a relatively rare R8 softtop, to the rarer than rare sight of an XLR. If the numbers sold of the Cadillac are what you say, then 90 percent or higher were stashed away somewhere, and not driven. Like other TTAC dudes, I notice cars a lot. If I’ve seen two XLRs on the road since they were introduced, I’m being generous. I’ve seen many more 911, XK, SL’s by a factor of 100 than the XLR. That includes the general Boston area, as well as Los Angeles.

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      Typical ‘Enthusiast’ reaction – all of the discussion about the engine, with no consideration to the segment…

      The XLR was launched (for sale) in 2004, using the prior gen ‘Vette (C5) as a base (largely to expedite the launch, since it was effectively a prototype of the Art and Science design language.) It was produced through 2009, making the platform almost 12 years old. Would you believe GT shoppers in the late 00’s were typically not interested in a decade old Corvette?

      While the interior was a reasonably nice place to be, and the car was a great boulevard/highway cruiser, it was competing with the R230 SL for volume and the e64 BMW 6 for unique styling. Complaints about the Northstar are typically overblown, especially considering that when you buy this segment new, you are going to have all work done by the dealer, and the manufacturer only really has to worry about getting the car through the first 3-4 years of ownership.

      It would have been nice if GM had the breathing room to justify a 2nd generation or significant mid-model facelift based on sales that are actually impressive given the cost and numbers sold of comparable freshmen products, but they wanted 7-10k units a year from the car (which was unreasonable and idiotic.) The XLR-V was a great concept, as on paper it should have been a competitor to the SL55AMG, but that was using old-fashioned logic that people bought AMG cars for their performance and not just for the badge.

      • 0 avatar

        Great write-up. I had no idea that the XLR was based on the C5 architecture; I’d always thought it was a C6 derivative. And yes, it pains me when an automaker endeavors on a new and exciting project, then cancels it for not meeting their unrealistic expectations, or because they let the product rot on the vine for years. Maybach, for example, would have done a lot better against Bentley and Rolls-Royce if its cars had been (a) better styled and (b) not made utterly obsolete by 2007, with the arrival of the W221 S-Class. But that’s the auto biz.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        You bring an interesting perspective to the conservation. Shortly before the introduction of the XLR, Mercedes retired the R129 SL in 2002, itself introduced in 1989 for MY90. If Mercedes could get away with such a thing in a niche segment, Cadillac could as well. Only enthusiasts would even ask which platform it rode on or what the age of said platform happened to be. The doubt mega rich folks who buy these products by in large care about the motor as you point out, or platform on which it rides. This segment is for people who can be choosy if they please, and Cadillac would have had to give people reasons to choose its XLR over the SL, 6 Series, XK8, and to an extent the SC430. My suspicion is this model was conceived and intended for North American audiences who liked Corvette but had “Cadillac” money to spend. Its competition was designed and intended for an audience in and outside of North America, thus the XLR could never have a global reach. They big money isn’t in the USA anymore and GM failed to capitalize on it.

        A refresh might have been in order, but if you study the more recent history of GM, you’ll see they typically ride out all models a minimum of five years and then refresh or discontinue them. They chose the latter after the model I imagine did not meet their expectations.

  • avatar
    NotFast

    I think that except for high-end luxo models, the ‘vert is close to dead. Young people used to love a droptop, but they are selling & the only owners I see are old farts.

    • 0 avatar
      bosozoku

      Young people used to like a new car, generally. Most can barely swing a Versa Note now, let alone aspire to a convertible.

      That said, I’m 30 and planning to be one of the first in line to plunk down my savings on an ND Miata.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        The Miata is at least as much legendary sports car as convertible. It’s not a good marker for convertible demand in isolation. For much of the same reasons the Wrangler isn’t, either.

  • avatar
    williamwally

    To me the real ‘incentive’ to an EOS was the hard top convertible WITH a power sunroof. Cool for people like me who like the sun but live in MW or other 4 season areas. I still never bought one though, guess that’s the problem…

    • 0 avatar
      akatsuki

      It just made it too expensive for the segment, which was basically for people who couldn’t afford a BMW 3 convertible. They really needed to be in the mid-20s – which basically meant chopping the roof off of a Jetta/Golf and sticking a soft-top on it with a couple of braces tacked on.

      Frankly I blame auto-publications for the death of convertibles. A lot of the convertibles have vanished because the magazines are always whining about flexy chassis, etc. Screw that. Sometimes all you want to do it cruise around with the top down and you don’t give a crap about the chassis having a bit of flex. Hell, I’d buy a 4 door convertible if they’d make one.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    A neighbor has a low mileage VW Eos. Purchased new it’s primarily a summer car. She has binding and water leak issues with the retractable roof.

  • avatar
    Lythandra

    My Aunt has one and its not a bad car. It is overpriced tho and has very little trunk space. I would never buy one as I love the practicality of hatchbacks.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    They still make those? I just assumed it died when the Golf changed two generations ago.

  • avatar
    jimboy

    I’m not sure what the ask is for the US model, but here in Canada it STARTS at nearly $40,000 grand, base model! Thats why Volkswagen can’t get any traction in NA, their pricing is ridiculous for what you get.
    No one really cares about ‘german’ engineering if it’s attached to a stupid expensive price tag, especially when we all know that the minute the warranty ends you’re on the hook for crazy expensive repair bills.
    I don’t know why VW can’t figure this out? Typical German arrogance and NIH syndrome, I guess. It’s a nice little $30,000 car, provided you get a 10 year warranty with it, otherwise, aufweiderschein VW.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The top was a neat concept — retractable roof and moving panoramic sunroof in one. No one has done a similar retractable roof since. Unfortunately, it made the car a bit too heavy and expensive for something on a Golf platform. The roof should come back for a heavy luxo-cruiser, like an Audi A6-derived convertible.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Holy wordiness Mr. Cain! There’s a lot of filler here.

    “Though facelifted, the Eos was always as it always was.”

    And that.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Audi/VW 3.2 V6 is a sweet engine with a nice power band and a decent exhaust note. Too bad they axed it.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    The Eos had just come out when I was shopping for my middle-age crisis mobile. The styling did nothing for me, and I’m sorry but I don’t like folding hardtops.

    It was priced $7-10,000 more than the Beetle, but I honestly think you’re looking at two perhaps close but different markets. Not everyone likes retro…although the new gen Beetle is far more palatable to me than the last gen.

    I wish they made a Golf convertible; at a $5000 premium over the Beetle I don’t think there would be a ton of stolen sales.

    I ended up with a low mileage off-lease Saab 9-3 Aero…I love popping the top…it’s a small celebration of life. Parts are hard to come by these days; repairs are typically Euro-priced.

    3 acre moonroofs and standard air conditioning have killed the convertible, but I think there will always be a market for them however dimished…

    Finally, I personally loved the styling of the XLR….

    • 0 avatar

      Oh, the 9-3 Cabriolet is *so* much better than the Eos…

      • 0 avatar
        seth1065

        Kyree,
        To be fair yes the saab is better, I like the Eos and I looked at buying one used as a 2 nd car, I have a Sportswagon TDI with the Pano roof and love it, but the roof on the Eos scared the crap out of me, to much to go wrong, a soft top is a better convertible, esp for me as I would only use it in nice weather, they are both pricy to fix , but the later GM saabs are pretty decent cars, I found a Saab vert w a stick which was great , doubt the EOS was offered with one. And the Saab verts are cheap to pick up used the Eos not so much.

        • 0 avatar

          “…but the roof on the Eos scared the crap out of me, to much to go wrong…”

          I concur. My SportWagen TDI’s panoramic roof has given me enough trouble, and the car is only two months old. You think I want to risk a VW folding hard-top?

          And yes, soft-tops are much more my thing, IMO, if for looks alone. The only people who managed to pull off a good-looking folding hard-top are Mercedes-Benz with the SL-Class.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      The Beetle is my favorite ‘vert since the S2000. The rest of the car kind of sucks (The Diesel/MT being my favorite of the latest version, and I’m sure as heck no diesel guy), but it is a nice ‘vert.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Over priced first and foremost.

  • avatar
    carguy

    There is no shortage of reasons why the EOS is dead

    1. It looks awkward
    2. The price for this Jetta with a hardtop was simply too high
    3. The overly complex folding roof was even more unreliable than the rest of the car.

    I’m amazed VW let it go for this long.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    My sister-in-law wants one. She is my age (37 yrs old), double income, one child and has a doctorate of pharmacology. She is a dyed-in-the-wool VW buyer who made her first VW purchase in 1997 of a Jetta sedan 5-speed (which she still owns and her daughter learned to drive on.)

    Now if she could have just let go of her Tiguan for something less practical VW could have sold at least one Eos in NM, cause I’ve never seen one on the roads here.

  • avatar
    wmba

    The EOS is dead. Do tell. Many of us never knew it was alive.

    The few I have seen seem to be driven by deeply embarassed people, thus never ever with the top down.

  • avatar
    genuineleather

    The biggest problem with the Eos is that it’s ugly.

    Convertibles are impractical, emotional purchases; buyer tolerance for dowdy styling is nil. The refresh helped, but nothing could save it’s awkward proportions atop a too-short wheelbase.

    The Golf Cabriolet is a handsome little car, and would nicely split the difference between the too-precious Beetle and the too-expensive Eos. We’ll never see it over here as long as they’re churning out the Beetle en Mexico, though.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Sunroofs are installed on nearly 30-50% of new cars, why pay more for a drop top? If one wants a Honda EX series anything, you are forced to get a sunroof, for example.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      If you think that a sunroof is similar to a convertible, you’ve never driven a convertible.

      • 0 avatar
        Japanese Buick

        +1 (from the owner of both a PRHT Miata and a sedan with sunroof)

        • 0 avatar
          snakebit

          A couple of things. As someone who owned an early Miata, presently owns a Sunbeam Tiger and BMW 3-series coupe with moon roof, I think moon roofs are overrated and an unnecessary cost add-on. For what manufacturers say they cost retail(approx $1100), I’d much rather they spent the money fitting standard sport seats. On my BMW, I’ve had the roof open no more than five times in two years, and almost always the sliding sunshade is pulled closed, as well. It’s not a premium pert to me. As was posted before, having a sunroof is a real compromise, and not the same experience as driving a roadster or convertible in any meaningful way. I suggest anyone wanting a sunroof instead putting a little more money aside by forgetting the SR, and adding a real droptop car, like an older Miata to the family fleet

  • avatar
    HydrogenOnion

    It’s dead because it didn’t sell well. And it didn’t sell well because it’s an overpriced boring looking convertible. Seriously… it cost $10,000 more than the convertible Beetle. A convertible hardtop is a neat feature, but not $10,000 worth of neat. Less power and a little worse fuel economy than the Beetle with the same engine too.

    I would take a Beetle convertible any day over it.

  • avatar
    PCP

    Terribly complicated roof, prone to water leakage for way too many production years (VW, being a German company, did eventually get hold of that). What’s more, the roof could only be serviced by specialized dealers.

    Oh and yeah, terribly boring – but that applies to any car from the VW group. Now you may start shooting.

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