BMW M6, our car's cheery Eismeer Blue paint, or the simple fact that with the top down people can interrogate you in traffic, the Eos drew praise, especially from the women to whom VW is likely planning to sell it. Suffice it to say, the Eos passes the cuteness test, successfully integrating the VW family's chrome grille ring with a unique headlight shape to give it a face all its own.
The question is: will people be willing to shell out for it? A bare-bones Eos can be had for well under $30,000, a price that looks quite nice compared to a Mini convertible, for example. But option the Eos up a bit (or start with the V-6 model) and the MSRP slots in just shy of the upcoming soft-top Audi TT roadster's, no coincidence given Volkswagen AG's ownership of both brands. $40,000 is a car-buying dividing line but hovering just beneath it isn't as comfortable as hovering around $20,000. The Eos has its work cut out for it, and the ghostly shadow of the late, unlamented Phaeton is lurking.
Nicely put together
Buyers who do opt for the Eos won't be disappointed by the feature set and the levels of fit and finish they find inside. Materials are nice, switches and controls feel solid, and things are mostly where they should be. Beige leather complements the light blue exterior of our car well, and the interior generally impressed us throughout.
Our test Eos was equipped with the Luxury package and the navigation system, both of which contributed considerably to the upscale feel of the car. Wood trim, fully power-adjustable front seats including power lumbar support, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and satellite radio (subscription extra) are included in the Luxury package, and the navigation option, (which requires either the Luxury or Sport package), adds a good-sized screen in a brushed-metal surround that echoes the chrome bezels around the four main gauges and the central air vents.
The navigation system offers voice control, but we found it predictably temperamental when we used it with the top down. The onscreen keyboard is the best method of destination entry, and while the Eos' two click knobs and many contextual keys make operation relatively intuitive, a touch-sensitive screen would have been better. Processing was subpar, with noticeable delays in route calculations and map adjustments. A very nice extra, though, was the evidently Audi-sourced secondary screen between the speedometer and the tachometer, which shows the current street and direction, or the next route instruction if guidance is active.
The stereo system produced above-average audio quality from its eight speakers, even keeping the sound full under roofless conditions. Audio sources include Sirius satellite radio and a six-CD changer mounted longitudinally under the center armrest (an iPod adapter can be specified in place of the CD changer, as part of the nav option). In contrast, the voice route guidance instructions were largely drowned out by the stereo, (which didn't lower its volume enough), and ambient noise, and we were unable to adjust the various levels despite no small effort (a manual for the navigation system wasn't in our Eos' glove box). With the navigation option, the CD changer migrates from an in-dash unit to the center armrest, and loses the ability to read MP3 discs.
What was, unfortunately, in the glove box was the auxiliary audio jack (not present if the iPod adapter is chosen)--a nice feature, but better located in the cabin where the player can be accessed easily. More welcome is an air-conditioning outlet in the glove box that keeps the large inside area cool. Secondary controls for the audio system are on the steering wheel, and so is a phone-icon button, but the latter had no discernable function and Bluetooth integration is not offered on the Eos.
The Eos' retractable hardtop is, of course, its showcase feature. Dubbed "Coupe-Sunroof-Convertible" (CSC), it works flawlessly and feels as if it will continue for the car's lifetime. Rumor has it the roof's complex operation was the main reason behind the Eos' launch delay; if this is true, at least the time wasn't wasted. In the fully closed position, the Eos is a perfectly sealed coupe, with both a glass rear window and a large glass panel overhead. This sunroof can slide open and remain that way for driving, or the process can continue, releasing the rails from the windshield header and folding the whole shebang under the deck lid in about 25 seconds. An effective mesh windscreen is cleanly integrated into the top of the windshield frame and can be extended or not, and a larger wind deflector that snaps into place covering the rear seats is also included.
With the top up, cargo volume in the trunk is a relatively healthy 10.5 cubic feet, and even with the top down the Eos offers 6.6 cubic feet of trunk space, enough for a few grocery bags. The rear seats are really only suitable for children, and are more likely to be utilized for extra cargo space than carrying people for any distance. A lockable trunk pass-through in the rear-center armrest is standard, very helpful given the trunk's marginalized capacity.
Too much torque
The Eos 2.0T has a very nice, two-liter, four-cylinder engine, making use of turbocharging and Fuel Stratified Ignition (FSI), a direct-injection technology that improves low-load efficiency and emissions and maximizes power in the upper reaches of the rev range. Peak output is 200 horsepower at 5,100 RPM and the full 207 pound-feet of torque is available from 1,800 to 5,000 RPM. These are healthy numbers, yet EPA fuel economy ratings are still solid at 23mpg in the city and 31mpg on the highway (32mpg with the standard manual transmission).