Although its French rivals have had coupé-convertibles in this segment for several years, VW is claiming a unique selling point in the class by incorporating a tilt and slide sunroof as standard into the folding roof.
VW believes Eos (named after the Greek goddess of dawn) will compete across the classes, thanks to its range of engines and refinements. The top end 2.0-litre T-FSI and 3.2-litre V6 FSI models offer an alternative to the open-tops in the BMW 3-series, Volvo C70, Audi A4 and Saab 9-3 ranges, while the entry level 1.6-litre FSI is hoped to steal attention from Focus CC, Astra TwinTop and the 307 and Mégane CCs.
Eos is seen as largely a retail offering, so dealers will be expected to sell 70% of the 2,600 UK units that VW forecasts for this year to private buyers – a sector that is struggling.
The order bank was 1,100 units before the car’s July 14 launch, so VW feels its target is easily achievable. Full year volumes from 2007 will be 4,000 units, still a relatively modest number, so residual values should be strong.
Diesel will account for only 20% of sales; the 2.0-litre FSI petrol with 148bhp and manual transmission will be the biggest-selling variant. A flagship 3.2-litre 246bhp petrol V6 with DSG transmission as standard will be added to the range later this year, but it will sell in relatively small numbers.
In terms of size, Eos seats four adults and slots into the VW range between Golf and Passat, both of which donate a number of parts. However, with the roof folded, boot space is a minuscule 205 litres, on a par with the Volvo C70 and Vauxhall Astra TwinTop. VW plans to turn this into an opportunity, however, so its dealers can offer customers a pair of bespoke travel cases at £120.
Capacity increases to 380 litres with the roof up.
Two specifications are available. Standard trim features ESP, air-con, fog lights, parking sensors, 16in alloys and CD player. Sport adds 17in alloys, chrome grille louvres, red rear lamp clusters, sports suspension, aluminium-look pedals and a tyre pressure monitor.
On top of this are a host of factory upgrades, such as leather upholstery and colour screen sat-nav, or dealer-fit options such as Road Angels.
Eos may look a little dumpy from some angles, but the quality finish, breadth of the range and that important VW badge will entice customers into their local dealership. It’ll be a winner.
Engines: Petrols: 1.6-litre FSI 114bhp; 2.0-litre FSI 148bhp; 2.0-litre T-FSI 197bhp; 3.2-litre V6: 246bhp. 2.0-litre TDI turbodiesel 139bhp
Performance: 0-62mph 7.3-11.9sec; top speed 119-154mph
Transmission: Six-speed manual, DSG automatic
Efficiency: 33.6-47.1mpg (comb); 158-202g/km CO2
CAP RV 3yr/30k: £10,100-12,475 (53-45%)
Rivals: Astra TwinTop, Focus CC, Volvo, C70, Saab 9-3 convertible
Strengths: Scene-stealing roof
Weaknesses: Dumpy looks, uninspiring to drive
Opportunities:: Could draw buyers’ attention from prestige brands
Threat: Lots of rivals
USP: A genuine four-seater, top-down experience
Only the 197bhp 2.0-litre T-FSI model was available to test, which has Sport trim as standard. Like most VWs, its interior is quite conservative and black. A shorter, less raked A-pillar compared to many coupé-convertible rivals, makes entry and exit less hazardous to the head.
The roof mechanism is operated by a button in the centre console, and opening or closing is over in 25 seconds. Impressive as this is to watch, we couldn’t help but have doubts over the long-term reliability.
With the Golf GTI’s engine under the bonnet and a slick six-speed gearbox, Eos is capable of more than twice the legal speed limit. But all the strengthening and technology needed for the roof means Eos is no sports car. This is a car for A-road cruises than B-road blasts.