2007 Volkswagen Eos
Actively engaged in expanding its already ample model line, the 2007 Volkswagen Eos fills a narrow gap between the Golf and the Passat. The Eos seems designed mostly around its retractable hardtop, with highly visible lines where parts of the roof meet. The technology in the roof is interesting from a mechanical viewpoint: Composed of five pieces, it stows itself away in about 25 seconds. The Eos offers some other interesting options, such as navigation, cornering headlights, and a 600-watt stereo system. Although the Eos was announced with four available gas engines, ranging from 115 horsepower to 250 horsepower, and one diesel engine, it will probably have only the 200-horsepower or the 250-horsepower engine in its U.S. release, which should come in spring 2006.
Upside: A five-piece, retractable hardtop roof is interesting in a car of this class, but we don't imagine too many people will be excited about it. That said, the 2007 Volkswagen Eos is certainly practical in states that experience real winters and summers. The cornering-headlights option is another surprise for this market segment; Volkswagen is introducing technologies previously reserved for higher-end cars. Navigation is optional in the Eos, and the interface for it is fairly simple to use. With the 250-horsepower V-6, the Climatronic system is available, which adjusts the environmental controls depending on whether the top is up or down. Its 600-watt stereo system with 10 speakers should make up for even freeway noise with the top down. Another advantage of the V-6 engine is the standard DSG double-clutch gearbox, an option with the four-cylinder, 200-horsepower FSI engine.
Downside: The body style of the 2007 Volkswagen Eos lies somewhere between bland and ugly. It's very utilitarian, designed to accommodate passengers and its hardtop, with little thought given to aesthetics. Although the engine choices are more than adequate, the power train isn't particularly revolutionary. Also, putting the hardtop down nearly halves the cargo space, taking it from 13.4 cubic feet down to 7.2 cubic feet. The Eos offers no Bluetooth cell phone integration or steering-wheel controls, forcing the driver to reach toward the center dash to make climate and audio adjustments.
Outlook: The 2007 Volkswagen Eos's odd looks will probably keep it from having the success of the New Beetle, but looks aside, the Eos offers a lot of practicality and some real tech niceties. The hardtop protects the car in harsh weather and can quickly become a fun-in-the-sun machine. The V-6 combined with the DSG gearbox is a great combination, and we usually don't see tech, such as navigation and cornering headlights, even offered in this segment.