2011 VOLKSWAGEN EOS REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Small Convertible
Price: $49,990 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 5.9 l/100 km
Fuel Economy (tested): 6.9 l/100 km
Volkswagen’s Eos raised the bar for refinement and sophistication for affordable retractable hard-tops when first introduced in 2007. It was then the best of the bunch.
Not all of its original competitors remain - it’s seen off the Focus and Astra contenders - but the Eos soldiers on, and just gets better and better. For 2011 it has scored some specification updates and Volkswagen’s new front and rear styling.
Quality: A new climate-control panel adds class, while everything else remain familiar.
The interior is functional and top-notch for quality, but hard door trims and constant top-down squeaks between dash and the front doors hurt initial perceptions.
Comfort: Front seats are mildly bolstered and firm but still able to accommodate wider frames.
Of course being a coupe, rear seat space is tighter but still acceptable for those up to 170cm tall and there’s room for feet and knees. There’s not much width in the back though.
Equipment: Eos comes with leather seats, a multi-function leather-bound steering wheel, 17” alloys, sports pedals, LED tail lamps, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, six-CD audio with USB-in, eight speakers and touch-screen controls.
The big selling point of course is the complex folding roof. Fully automatic and constructed in five-sections, it uniquely allows the Eos a sliding glass sunroof as well as the usual open and closed positions.
Storage: With the roof up there’s 380 litres of boot space which drops to 205 litres with the roof in place. That’s tight, but still enough for a weekend-getaway’s worth of soft bags.
In the cabin the centre console is tiny, but remedied by a large glovebox with smaller driver’s-side compartment and long door-pockets.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: Both flexible and thrifty, the 103TDI Eos is a surprisingly rewarding drive. It’s equally at home slinking around city streets or breezing along a winding coastal road.
The benefit of a diesel engine and its low-rev torque peak sees a very handy 320Nm of torque developed from 1750-2500rpm. This gives the Eos brisk acceleration brisk and, even at work, it remains smooth and quiet.
Winding the engine out to its power peak of 103kW at 4200 rpm isn’t unpleasant either but mostly unnecessary.
Top-up handling feels secure, but with the lid folded there’s more chassis flex apparent. While there is some slight scuttle shimmy, apparent in the windscreen pillars, the rest of the passenger compartment is reassuringly stiff.
Refinement: As we’ve noted before, Volkswagen’s clever DSG gearboxes do their best low-speed work when paired with a diesel, and the Eos confirms that.
With the roof up the Eos is serene and hard to pick from a regular hatchback in terms of road and wind noise. Drop the top and even at highway speeds front-seat passengers can maintain a conversation.
Naturally enough, it starts to get a bit ragged for rear-seat occupants at anything above 80 km/h.
The only refinement glitches show up with the sunroof open, with harsh buffeting and drumming apparent even around town. There’s also a touch of diesel clatter at idle.
Suspension: The all independent suspension with MacPherson struts up front and a four-link rear end is comfort-biased, but keeps a level cornering attitude. Handling is initially neutral pushing into controlled but early understeer if pressing on.
Braking: Ventilated front discs matched to solid rears provide controlled stopping with a smoothly progressive pedal.
ANCAP rating: 4 Stars (2006 model tested by Euro NCAP, approved by ANCAP)
Safety features: ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, electronic stability control, dual front and side thorax/head airbags, active rollover protection system, three-point seatbelts for all positions with load-limiting pre-tensioners for front seats.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: 3 years/100,00km and 24 hour roadside assist with 12 years anti-corrosion warranty.
Service costs: The cost of a standard service ranges between $370 and $540, while a major service (due every 60,000km/four years) comes in at a little over $1000. Service intervals are set for every 15,000km/12 months.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Peugeot 308 CC HDi ($51,990) - The 308 CC provides some stiff competition to the Eos. The engine provides more power and torque but doesn’t spin as freely, the dash looks a little more showy, but leather trim is optional.
Worst of all, the windscreen reaches so far over the front seats that you never really feel like you’re in the open air. (see 308 CC reviews)
Renault Megane Dynamique CC ($45,990) - Renault’s Dynamique convertible is almost invisible next to the enticing RenaultSport hatches, and for those hoping for a little of that hot-hatch persona, keep looking.
The Megane’s petrol engine feels flat and, coupled to a CVT auto, can drone about town. The body is nicely rigid, there is a glass roof (but without the Eos’s sunroof function) however the low spec and vinyl trim are a let-down next to the Eos.(see Megane reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
If you could ever call the purchase of a convertible sensible, then the Eos is a very logical contender. It’s fun to be in, smart-looking, reasonably fleet-of-foot and a very nice drive.
It comes with fewer compromises than its closest competitors and combines the quality-feel of Volkswagen’s more staid sedans with a liberal dose of sun-seeking adventure.