Volkswagen Eos 2.0 TSI Sport review
by David Finlay (12 July 2006)
Some years after the French got in on the act, manufacturers from other countries are now introducing coupé-cabriolets at such a rate that it occasionally feels as though we write about little else. There are similarities among them all, but Volkswagen is so far unique in introducing a car which is not directly based on one other single model in its range.
It would be easy for a dull and imaginative fellow - unlike yourself - to see the Eos as being the CC version of the Golf, but in size terms it actually comes between that car and the Passat. The duality continues under the skin, where the front end is mechanically similar to the Golf and the rear to the Passat.
The skin itself is undeniably attractive. Volkswagen's design team has done a fine job, and while personal taste will dictate whether you think a rival car is better-looking, there surely can't be much doubt that, whatever that car may, the Eos isn't far behind it aesthetically.
The car tested here is the 2.0 T-FSI Sport, which uses the same 197bhp turbocharged engine that powers the Golf GTI. Same engine, similar car, different contexts. The GTI is not the most dramatic hot hatches currently available, but it's one of the best. The equivalent Eos does not feel remotely like a hot hatch, even though it has plenty of acceleration in reserve for when a sudden overtaking opportunity presents itself.
The feeling that this is a much softer car than anything which could reasonably have a GTI badge stuck to it is due partly to the extra weight of the Eos. Another reason is that it simply isn't set up to prioritise the driving experience. Compared with other cars in the range, this one has sports suspension, which gives a ride height 15mm less than the norm, but it's nothing like as sharp as a GTI (or indeed as a Sport version of the Vauxhall Astra TwinTop).
Perhaps more usefully, it does ride very well. That's even the case when, as here, the car is fitted - at a cost of £395 - with optional 235/40 Dunlop Sport tyres on 18" wheels. Although this reads like a recipe for a every last bump in the road to be transmitted faithfully to the cabin, the Eos actually smooths them out very efficiently. For a car whose existence is based far more on style considerations than on how it deals with complicated, twisting roads, this is as it should be.
As we've pointed out with regard to other coupé-convertibles, if you do want to play with the Eos you'd better have the roof up. When it's stowed away, a process which takes 26 seconds as five separate sections (one of them uniquely doubling as a sunroof) juggle themselves into position and retreat to the luggage compartment, really energetic cornering reveals a slight shimmy in the steering which is almost entirely eradicated by putting the roof back up again.
The steering issue is a very minor one. It's something you're aware of through your hands as they grip the wheel rather than something that makes much difference to the car's cornering ability. The only reason I've brought it up at all is that scuttle shake is virtually zero in convertible form, and I had to mention something. This is clearly a tough structure.
When I first drove the Eos with the roof down I was quite impressed by the relatively benign airflow in cockpit, even though I wasn't at that stage using either of the deflectors which make it even calmer. One sits above the windscreen and is actually more effective when used in conjunction with the sunroof alone. The other is intended for those open-topped days and works well, though it completely blocks off the rear of the passenger compartment and turns the Eos into a very definite two-seater.
It's pretty much one of those anyway. Longer than the Golf it may be, but the Eos has dire rear legroom (not that it's alone in its class in that respect). Even if you can fit in there, access is hampered by the front seatbelts, which stretch across the very narrow gap you have to slide through to reach the back seat.
Other than the suspension, the Sport specification includes the occasional dash of interior aluminium, but most of it involves a high degree of what might be called luxury equipment. When combined with an engine producing just short of 200bhp and that clever roof system, these goodies make the £23,315 list price seem reasonable enough, but you can go a lot further.
This much further, in fact: as presented to us, the test car had an official value of £30,020. Yup, really. The bulk of the difference was accounted for by a combination of heated front seats and an upgrade to Nappa leather upholstery (£1845) and DVD satellite navigation mated to a multifunction computer and a truly outstanding ten-speaker Dynaudio sound system (£2130).
I'll leave you to check out the brochures to find out the other retail opportunities, but you'll already have gathered that if you keep spending enough money it's possible to take your car a very long way from what is already a pretty impressive standard level of equipment.
Beyond £30,000 . . . "beyond", he says . . . at anywhere even approaching £30,000, more like it, the Eos makes sense only as a toy for someone who already owns six figures' worth of other cars. Not being in such a position myself, I suppose I'm bound to be happier with it at the base price, which of course isn't peanuts either. But it does buy you another tough competitor from the vintage 2006 season of coupé-convertibles.