You probably know a woman who is smart, very clever, and well-dressed enough that it isn’t readily apparent she is carrying around more weight than you first might believe. She really opens herself up when she escapes in warm climates, and is otherwise buttoned down and conservative. Only when she is outside of the normal nine-to-five and she tries to really move do you really notice see just how much weight she is carrying, as she jiggles and shakes- and you may not be impressed. Without further ado, may I introduce you to Eos.
The Portuguese-built Eos is based on Volkswagen’s A5 platform, which also underpins the Mk V Golf, as well as not-for-the-USA Volkswagen Scirocco, and SEAT Leon. The car shares its wheelbase with the Golf- a fact that is apparent from the Eos’ immense rear overhang, grafted onto the car to facilitate storage of its folding hardtop. Launched in late 2006 in the US, the Eos received a modest restyling for MY2012 to match contemporary Jetta and Passat styling; to my eyes the waterfall grill with which the Eos launched is more attractive than the very businesslike, horizontal styling currently employed up front.
For 2014, Volkswagen offers the Eos in three trim levels: Komfort, Sport, and Executive. The midlevel Eos Sport is the model tested here; it is equipped with a smart key system allowing keyless access and pushbutton start. With the key in my pocket, putting my hand on the exterior door handle caused the front window to index downward in anticipation of my opening the door. Sitting down, I’m greeted with a somber interior employing black leatherette seating, black carpets, black dash and door materials, even a black headliner.
I was surprised to find that the $37,925 2014 Volkswagen Eos Sport ($38,360 with the $865 destination fee) had a decidedly non-premium equipment level. The Eos Sport has low-resolution navigation/infotainment display, non-premium sound system, vinyl/leatherette upholstery, no automatic lamps, no parking sensor or reversing camera. Getting especially low marks was the sound system, which distorted music at high volumes, and had very little depth, meaning that turning up the music louder seemed to create just noise rather than sound. For a car this expensive, I would expect it to be better equipped. Even so, the Eos Sport did have a few upscale features, such as automatic dual zone climate control, keyless entry/start, bi-xenon headlamps with steering feature and cornering lamps, and a navigation system (albeit one with a low-resolution display).
The interior is upholstered in an average-grade leatherette which will be familiar to owners of late-model Volkswagens. The seats themselves are firm, with little bolstering, and headrests which seemed permanently canted a bit too far forward. Seat belts for the front seats are anchored to the B-pillars (rather than the seats themselves, as in some convertibles). Volkswagen has sewn loops to the outboard top corners of the front seats for positioning the seat belts in more convenient locations – but the loops have a single snap to fasten them closed, and the motion of pulling the seatbelt out of the retractor and through this snap-secured loop tended to unsnap the loop. After two days of continually re-snapping the seatbelt in the loop to keep the belt in position, I finally gave up on it. The driver’s front seat has power adjustments for height, and slide, as well as for backrest angle and lumbar support. The front seats are heated, and the hottest of the three seat heater settings could be labelled “Fry”- this can come in handy when motoring alfresco on cold days.
From the driver’s seat, the position and layout of the dashboard and instrument panel seemed strange; the entire dashboard seemed to be situated unnaturally high, with the dash an odd flat shape and the instruments oddly positioned; ergonomically it didn’t work well for me. Much of this is likely due to reinforcing framing in the Eos body. Still, instruments were clear and easy to read, and controls were straightforward to understand and use.
The back seat was used only by my five- and eight-year-old daughters in their booster seats. The shape of the rear seat bottom cushions is such that the booster seats didn’t quite sit flat, and they naturally slid toward the center of the car so that the seat belt latches were obstructed by the booster seats. The Eos has a 2+2 configuration, with rear seats in the outboard positions, and a small plastic console with molded-in cupholders between them. Rear headroom was fine for the girls, but was not sufficient for me with the top closed. Legroom behind my 6’4” frame was nearly nonexistent. Rear seats are accessed by tilting and sliding the front seats forward; the slide mechanism on the driver’s seat is electric, while it is a mechanical function on the passenger side.
Out back, the trunk is massive – when the folding roof is closed. The large clamshell decklid hinges open in a way that allows very easy access to the luggage compartment. There is a divider in the trunk which must be lowered (and all luggage placed below it) for opening the roof. When that compartment is latched in its upper position, trunk space falls from 10.5 to 6.6 cubic feet. Unlike Volvo’s retractable hardtop C70, there is not a means of raising raising the stowed roof slightly for easier access to luggage. When closing the trunk lid, an electric motor cinches is closed the final few millimeters after it has been latched.
As I found out, this final few millimeters of trunk cinching is done to ensure the decklid is fully closed, with a closure proximity sensor in the trunk latch assembly which is required to indicate full trunk closure to facilitate operation of the convertible top. During my week with the Eos, the trim piece which covers the trunk latch (and which also holds the proximity sensor in place) came loose, causing an error message on the info display admonishing me to close the already-closed trunk when I attempted to lower the top – and again when I attempted to raise the top. After I identified the problem as this loose trim piece, I didn’t retract the top again. This wasn’t a hardship as I was testing the car on a rainy November week in Oregon and Washington states.
From behind the wheel, the driving characteristics are those of a boulevardier rather than a sporty coupe. The six-speed DSG transmission seems to start in second gear when slowly launching from a standstill. Flooring the go pedal causes the gearbox to drop down to first gear, at which point the front tires don’t have enough traction cope with the torque of the 2.0 liter turbocharged four’s 200 HP and the copious amount of weight the Eos carries around. On wet pavement, the front tires happily spin upon acceleration, even inducing shuddering wheel hop. In a likely bid to counter that behavior as well as improve fuel economy, the Eos’ DSG transmission upshifts very quickly unless is Sport or manual shifting mode. When underway, the Eos’ weight also makes itself apparent when braking, as the car just didn’t seem to slow down as quickly as expected from a given speed. While visibility out the back wasn’t great for maneuvering in parking lots, the Eos’ incredibly tight turning radius made it easy to negotiate tight spaces.
Once in motion, the Eos mostly maintains composure when driven in an even, consistent manner. It doesn’t do a lot of shaking or rattling (at least not with the top up). If driven aggressively, though, the composure quickly unravels. The Eos is quick to spin front tires and understeer, the body rolls, and all of the extra weight associated with the folding hardtop mechanism and body stiffening reinforcements make themselves felt.
While many aspects of the Eos failed to impress me, I was totally impressed by the roof. The retractable hardtop has a large integrated glass sunroof which can tilt at the rear to vent, and from that position can motor open. The sun shining in through the sunroof can be blocked by a shade that matches the headliner, which completely retracts into the rear roof section when you want light in the car. A wind deflector is build into the windshield header and can be used when the sunroof or convertible top is open.
Retracting the hardtop starts by opening the sunroof as described above, followed by the rear decklid opening at the base of the C-pillar. The sunroof, rear roof section, and rear windshield all nestle into the trunk, and the roof side rails (which stretch from the top of the A-pillar to the top of the C-pillar) motor their way into surprisingly long storage compartments which stretch from the trunk all the way to the trailing edge of the front door openings- those long storage compartments explain why the back seat is so narrow. With all of that hardware stowed, the rear decklid motors back in place, and the cabrio is ready to roll. Operation of the top is quick, at around 25 seconds; with the top down there is a noticeable reduction in rigidity, and a noticeable shift in weight distribution toward the rear of the car.
The EPA rates the Volkswagen Eos at 22/30/25 MPG city/highway/combined. On a 200 mile trip from Seattle to Portland at an average speed of 52 MPH, I saw an average consumption of 28.9 MPG as indicated by the trip computer. Over my entire week and 630 miles with the Eos, consumption was 26.9 MPG, with an average speed of 34.9 MPH.
While I didn’t find Eos to be perfect, she is well-engineered and nicely put together. She may not be in her element when when hurrying through tight corners, but you’ll be sure to enjoy her company while you both have the time for a relaxed drive in the sunshine – and she’ll keep you warm and dry in poorer weather.
Volkswagen provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas for this review.