2012 Volkswagen Eos
– Perky economical engine
– Cabin space and quality
– Fairly comfortable ride
– Limited cargo capacity
– Limited fun factor
– Limited manly appeal
After Volkswagen killed the drop-top Golf Cabrio, they needed another convertible in their line-up. Thus, the Eos was born, complete with a folding hard-top to appeal to a larger demographic. Yet, there is news now that the soft-top Golf Cabrio itself has been brought back, possibly because the Eos is a bit on the expensive side. Indeed, the Eos isn’t as simple as just a Golf with a drop-top.
The Eos may look like it is made out of the Golf parts-bin, but it comes with the most complicated five-piece folding top we’ve ever seen, with the top part made of glass that also opens up like a sunroof. Of course, the Eos is never going to accused of looking too “manly,” something that the Golf GTI is used to. Both siblings pack the same engine, but the Eos 2.0 TSI does not get the fancy add-on badge.
The interior is pure Golf, with exactly the same dashboard and console, but with different door panels. All upper surfaces are soft-touch plastic, while the doors get generous amounts of padded leather that match the orange-brown upholstery. Even the rear passengers get padded armrests. Some fake metal and wood trim round off the conservatively-appealing design.
Expectedly, space up front is good, with nicely-bolstered seats and great headroom. Unexpectedly, space in the back is pretty decent too. A single tug on a seat lever offers access to the rear. There are a decent number of storage spaces, including door pockets and covered front cup-holders with VW’s trademark built-in beer-bottle opener. Boot space is compromised by the need to fit the folding-top mechanism, and when the roof is down, whatever space was there is cut down by half.
Volkswagens are a bit like Porsches in that they can be outfitted with all sorts of high-end optional extras, as long as you pay for it. Our test car came with a great CD/MP3 touchscreen stereo, cruise control, keyless entry, optional iPod connector, a full set of standard airbags and the usual power accessories. But there are a whole host of features that has to be optionally added, such as Bluetooth, USB port, navigation, keyless start, turning HID headlights and even automatic parellel parking. Our Eos did have a faulty dual-zone auto a/c so we had to sweat it out, but apparently it was a minor problem that was fixed quickly once we returned the car. Our experience with climate-control in other VW cars is that they’re generally pretty decent.
The Eos comes with a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder lifted from the GTI, apparently the only engine offered in the GCC. With 207 hp at 6200 rpm and 280 Nm of torque from only 1700 rpm, spinning the front wheels is relatively easy, even with traction control on. But unlike other front-wheel-drive cars, there is negligible side-to-side torque-steer so the car tracks straight under power. With the 6-speed “DSG” automanual gearbox in sport mode, we managed a 0-100 kph time of 7.9 seconds during our May test, a fair bit slower than a Golf GTI due to its 1586-kilo weight. It is still economical though, as we burned petrol at a rate of 10.2 litres/100 km.
The “DSG” gearbox remains a conundrum. It offers lightning-fast manual downshifts, but if left in automatic, it is either too conservative with shifts in normal mode or too aggressive in holding low gears in sport mode, with no middle ground. It also suffers from delayed throttle response when taking off in first gear, so you have to time your jump into traffic on busy open roundabouts. Some say it takes time to learn a driver’s mannerisms, though we’re not sure how long that’d take. We found the gearbox tuned more to our liking in the sportier VW Scirocco.
Aside from that, once out of first gear, the drive is good. The ride is largely smooth, with a slight firmness felt on some rougher surfaces, while external noises are kept out pretty well for a convertible. With top down, things are noisier, but at least the wind stays out of your eyes thanks to the high windshield, something we cannot say for sportier convertibles like the Chevy Camaro and the BMW Z4. Parking is also made easy with rear sensors and generally good all-round visibility.
Hustling the Eos around corners offers up some level of entertainment. While not as chuckable as a Scirocco, its precise nicely-weighted steering and meaty suspension allows for confident cornering, with limited body roll and decent grip from the 235/45 tyres, although the limited feedback from the controls, average-performing disc brakes and aggressive stability control quickly let you know that the Eos isn’t trying to be a sports car. The engine isn’t particularly gutsy at highway speeds either, even while low-end acceleration is deceptively quick.
The VW Eos is a practical coupe for the daily office run that also doubles as an amusing convertible cruiser for long-distance drives with friends, as long as everyone packs light. Economical, overly safe, fairly comfortable and not very manly, its target market is obvious.
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What do you think?