Volkswagen has a habit of sitting back and considering its options before jumping into new market segments and reaping the rewards of a patient approach: think Sharan, Touran, Touareg and Golf Plus. Now, after observing the prevailing trends for coupé-convertibles, VW is hoping to repeat this trick with the Eos.
Named after the Greek goddess of sunshine, the new four-seater marks quite a departure from VW’s previous cabrios. Rather than base the Eos entirely on the Golf, bodywork and all, this new one has its own distinct styling and receives a combination of Golf and Passat components, allowing it to increase in size and also – VW hopes – in standing. The Eos gets a sophisticated folding hard-top roof, providing both security and all-season usability.
Without the obvious restriction of having to adhere to the Golf’s shape, the new car has a svelte appearance and balanced proportions. Apart from the familiar grille, every panel is new. What’s more, it looks as good with the roof up as it does with the roof down.
Still, fashion-conscious buyers aren’t likely to be too impressed with the Eos’s slightly dowdy interior, which is based on the Golf’s. One plus, however, is the standard sunroof integrated into the roof – a feature none of the new Volkswagen’s sun-seeking rivals can match.
What's it like?
While you’re unlikely to choose the Eos for back-road thrashes, it is not lacking in ability. The Eos uses a different chassis to the standard Golf, with slightly wider tracks and softer spring and damper rates to counter the loss of rigidity caused by the absence of a fixed roof.
There’s a fair bit of body roll in corners, but bump absorption is good. Grip from the optional 235/45 R17 tyres of our test car is reasonable, with progressive understeer if you push too hard. The structure feels very rigid, helped by a specially designed front bulkhead, and only a slight amount of shake can be felt on the move. Does B-road ability really matter, though? What this car majors on is cruising and that is something it does exceptionally well.
At launch there will be a pair of four-cylinder engines: a 197bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol and a 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel. Later we’ll get three more petrols: a 113bhp 1.6, 148bhp 2.0 and the 247bhp 3.2-litre V6 from the Golf R32. All engines are connected to the front wheels via either a six-speed manual or optional six-speed dual-clutch DSG gearbox.
The turbocharged petrol tested here is particularly well suited to the Eos, offering plenty of low-end torque to overcome the hefty 1535kg kerbweight. Volkswagen claims 0-62mph in 7.8sec and a top speed of 144mph, which places it ahead of the quickest versions of the Vauxhall Astra TwinTop, Renault Mégane CC and Peugeot 307 CC, although the engine needs to be worked hard if you’re going to match those performance figures.
With a 90mm longer wheelbase than the old Golf cabriolet the Eos is more spacious, but claims that it is a full four-seater are not entirely true. The rear bench is narrow and the backrest is near-vertical, making the rear seats uncomfort-able for anything other than short journeys. Boot space, however, is excellent. With the roof up, capacity is 380 litres – 30 litres more than the Golf hatchback can offer. Even with the roof stowed there’s still 210 litres.
The folding aluminium roof works quietly via a button on the centre console, a battery of electric motors zipping the sunroof back and sliding the rear screen forward before the boot lid opens and the C-pillars sink into the body work – all within 25sec. It also comes with optional remote operation so you can use the key to set the roof in motion from outside the car.
Refinement is excellent with the roof up. When stowed, there is a fair deal of buffeting at motorway speeds, although an optional wind-break can be erected when the rear seats are not in use, stemming the turbulence. There is also an optional wind deflector that pops out from the top of the windscreen to ease buffeting.
Should I buy one?
Volkswagen is looking for big things from the Eos when it goes on sale in the UK in July. It has desirability and a large boot on its side, but with prices starting at £19,385 for the 113bhp 1.6, it is at least £2000 more expensive than an equivalent Astra TwinTop, 307 CC or Mégane CC. You’d really have to want that VW badge to go for an Eos over its rivals.