A new day is dawning at Volkswagen AG, so it's fitting that the auto maker's most innovative vehicle for 2006 is named for the goddess of the rising sun.
The Eos seats four (two comfortably) beneath the industry's first retractable hardtop with an integrated glass sunroof. Volkswagen calls it a CSC, short for coupe-sunroof-convertible. Will it blow the roof off the convertible market when it hits U.S. showrooms this fall? No.
But its target customers will flip their lids — despite the relatively rich starting stickers of $27,990 for the base model powered by a 2L turbocharged 4-cyl., and $36,850 for the top-end 3.2L FSI V-6 fronting 250 hp and VW's super-slick DSG (Direct-Shift Gearbox) automated manual transmission.
Volkswagen has targeted initial U.S. volumes between 10,000 and 15,000 units because, like the goddess for whom it is named, the Eos likely will not immediately connect with throngs of mere mortals. Expect it to resonate mainly with VW aficionados and tech geeks, because they know what usually lies beneath the brand's understated exteriors.
With its top dropped, the Eos looks sporty and elegant. The decklid, which is elevated slightly to house the Webasto AG-supplied 5-panel folding roof, exaggerates the dramatic rake of the car's beltline.
The console-mounted switch causes the sunroof section to slide backwards as the entire rear section, from the C-pillar to the point where the B-pillar would be located, lifts up. The sunroof section slides under the roof's rear portion, stacking the panels like a sandwich as the hard tonneau cover raises. Simultaneously, the decklid tilts up and back to expose a shelf in the trunk.
The stacked roof panels are positioned atop this shelf, beneath which remains 7.2 sq.-ft (0.2 sq.-m) — enough room for two moderately-sized pieces of roller luggage. With the roof up, the car's trunk offers 13.4 sq.-ft. (0.4 sq.-m) of storage.
All this is accomplished in just 25 seconds. While these gyrations are somewhat frantic and less graceful than the 3-panel retractable hardtop featured on the similarly sized Volvo C70, the mechanism is exceedingly quiet.
Quiet also is what you find in the car's interior — roof up or roof down. However, the integral glass sunroof suffers from a pair of quirks. First, the screen that prevents wind buffeting in the cabin must be manually deployed — a trade-off for the CSC's overall complexity, VW says. Moreover, its activation switch requires bothersome fiddling to distinguish the tilt and slide functions.
The car's front-wheel-drive sure-footedness is rooted in its well-balanced engine, ample 61-in. (155-cm) track width, and the stiffness afforded by high-strength steel in the A-pillars and floor crossmembers. The Eos is based loosely on the Golf platform.
Tie all this down with a MacPherson-strut front suspension borrowed from the Golf, and a 4-link rear setup copied from the Passat, and Eos stands capable of mythically proportioned road-hugging ability. For a convertible.
Meanwhile, the torquey low-gear performance of the 2L 4-cyl. always moves the Eos along nicely, and the power flow is easily managed by the responsive throttle.
Cheeky Volkswagen insiders quietly note that Eos, the goddess, had an affair with the beau of Aphrodite, deity of love. So, according to ancient texts, Aphrodite smote Eos with a curse that left her “tormented with constant passion.”
VW's all-new convertible is good. But it's not that good.
|Vehicle type||Front-engine, front-wheel drive, 4-passenger 2-door hardtop convertible|
|Engine||2L (1,984 cc) DOHC I-4, iron block/aluminum head|
|Power (SAE net)||200 hp @ 5,100 rpm|
|Torque||207 lb.-ft. (280 Nm) @ 1,800-5,000 rpm|
|Bore x stroke (mm)||82.5 x 92.8|
|Wheelbase||101.6 ins. (258 cm)|
|Overall length||173.6 ins. (441 cm)|
|Overall width||70.5 (179 cm)|
|Overall height||56.7 ins. (144 cm)|
|Curb weight||3,243 lbs. (1,472 kg)|
|EPA fuel economy, city/highway (mpg)||23/32|
|Market competition||Chrysler PT Cruiser; Ford Mustang; Mitsubishi Eclipse; Volkswagen New Beetle; Volvo C70|