Volkswagen Eos 2.0 TSI Sport review
by David Finlay (23 October 2006)
Although I like to think I can view coupé-convertibles in a dispassionate manner, weighing up the pros and cons of the various models on offer, I have to admit that I would be very unlikely to buy one myself. To me - a resolute objector to wind-in-the-hair motoring - the best thing you can do with one of these cars is weld the roof shut. Despite that, though, I'm beginning to think that I would rather like a Volkswagen Eos.
This surprises me. The car tested here is the 2.0 TSI Sport, and I drove a similar example a few months ago for a short test. At the time, I thought it was okay, but nothing startling. Now I think it's great. So what's happened?
It may be a question of familiarity. I drove the previous car for a couple of hours, but I've done about 1200 miles in this one, and it's undoubtedly the case that the longer I spend in its company the more I find things which delight me. For example, the major controls - steering wheel, pedals and gearlever - are all so well-weighted, and require such similar amounts of effort to use, that I find it easy to drive in a fluent and passenger-friendly manner even when I'm pushing on quite hard. After nearly a week, I am driving more smoothly in the Eos than I've done in years.
But I think there's more to it than that. The car I drove before had the £395 option of 235/40 tyres on 18" wheels. This one has 235/45 tyres on 17s. That might not seem like much of a difference, but let me tell you, saving £395 also gives you a much better car. Although the ride is only marginally better (the Eos copes remarkably well over bumps even on 40-profile rubber), the handling is far more sporty than I would have believed possible.
Since low tyre sidewalls are meant to improve handling - at least as a distant second to their contribution to the car's looks - this may seem like a paradox. On the other hand, I suspect the engineers reckoned the 235/45x17s were the best match for the excellent suspension set-up they had devised. Making larger wheels available no doubt ticks several boxes in the marketing department, but actually fitting them does the Eos no service at all.
Despite all that, I still don't see the Eos as a sporty car, even though it shares its 197bhp turbocharged engine with the more obviously hot-hatch Golf GTI. The extra weight no doubt has something to do with that, but in any case it doesn't matter - there's a lot of satisfaction to be gained from the fact that you have enough power to squirt down the road if you need to. And the delivery is so linear and so lag-free that you might find yourself wondering if there really is a turbo under the bonnet at all. (But there is. I checked.)
It seems odd to have got this far without devoting any attention to the coupé-cabriolet aspect, which is after all what the Eos is all about. The justification, if you feel one is required, is that the driving experience is, to me at least, the car's best feature.
Still, let's get on with it. In the unlikely event that this is the first time you're reading about the Eos, you'll be impressed to learn that its roof is divided into no fewer than five sections, the forwardmost of which also acts as a sunroof. The process of folding it into, or unfolding it out of, the boot is not class-leadingly rapid at 26 seconds, but none of the other CCs on the market do the job outstandingly quicker.
All CC manufacturers claim that their cars are full four-seaters, and all of them are talking nonsense, so the fact that the Eos is extraordinarily cramped in the back is not unusual. Volkswagen has, however, failed to keep up with the opposition in the matter of boot space.
Apart from Ford, with the Focus CC, nobody provides significantly more than 200 litres of luggage room when the roof is down. In roof-up mode, though, every rival (other than the Peugeot 307) handsomely beats the 380 litres of the Eos. If you're in the market for this kind of car and practicality is important to you, you probably don't want an Eos.
Style is a different matter. Even in the test car's not especially flattering shade of black, the Eos is a good looker, with a pleasantly aggressive hunched-forward stance when the roof is in place. And now that I've driven one with the correct wheels and tyres, I'm coming to the opinion that this is the best CC to drive by a considerable margin. Let's put it this way: if Volkswagen told me I could keep the car for another week and drive it for another 1200 miles, I would be a happy man.