Volkswagen Eos a most versatile vehicle

This is a car I consider a sleeper—it’s much better than you expect it to be when you first set eyes upon it.

The 2012 Volkswagen Eos is one of the new breed of retractable hardtops that are taking over the convertible market. The Eos underwent a minor redesign for 2012.

They say you can never get too much of a good thing.

For me, that’s definitely the case with Volkswagen’s spiffy little Eos convertible.

Whenever I get a chance to drive one, I jump at the chance. This is a car I consider a sleeper—it’s much better than you expect it to be when you first set eyes upon it.

I’ve driven the Eos every year since its introduction in 2007 so I’m very familiar with it, but the car still remains a relatively small player in the Canadian convertible marketplace with sales of 708 units in the 2011 model year and 516 units to the end of August this year.

Of course, convertibles are a niche market here in Canada with our short top-down season, but I’ve always said that the Eos has so much going for it thanks to its retractable hardtop with a built-in sunroof.

On a nice sunny fall day, if it’s too cool to put the top all the way down, the Eos gives you the option of flicking a switch to either tip up or fully open the sunroof.

Several other cars have retractable hardtops, but combining one with a sunroof is a world-first for Volkswagen and a feature that I would find desirable.

In fact, cars like the Eos with their folding hardtops make so much sense in Canada because you can have the best of all worlds—a convertible in summer and hardtop in winter.

With the Eos, the five-piece folding hardtop stows neatly away in the trunk in less than 30 seconds.

Top down, trunk space is reduced to 186 litres from the already meager 297 litres with the top up. However, unless you have a carload of passengers, use the rear seat as added storage as we did on a weekend getaway this summer to Michigan.

The Eos roof is a marvel of design. People will stand and watch as the roof does its little dance and stows neatly and efficiently in the trunk in about 25 seconds.

Of course, all this comes at a price—my brilliant Salsa Red Highline tester came in at a shade over the $50K mark once everything was tallied up, and that takes the car up into premium territory.

But the competition the Eos faces comes from luxury brands like Lexus, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, so we are talking top-shelf talent here.

For 2012, Volkswagen gives the Eos its first facelift since introduction six years ago.

With the redesign, there is no mistaking this for anything but a Volkswagen with the wide VW signature grille and new headlamp design. The rear gets LED taillights.

One engine only is available on the Eos—a peppy turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder powerplant that produces 200 hp and 207 lb/ft of torque. No manual here, only a six-speed direct shift gearbox (DSG) with Tiptronic to allow for manual shifting. Premium unleaded fuel is recommended.

The Eos comes in two trim levels, Comfortline ($39,075) and Highline ($45,775).

The Comfortline gets 17-inch alloy wheels, eight-way manually adjustable heated front seats, leather wrapped steering wheel, shift knob and parking brake lever, rear park distance control, electronic stability control, Halogen projector headlamps, tire pressure monitoring system and eight-speaker AM/FM/CD sound system with single CD player, Bluetooth phone connectivity, climatic climate control and cruise control.

Optional on the Comfortline is the Sport Package, including 18-inch alloys, bi-xenon headlights and sport suspension

My tester was the top-level Highline model with standard fare such as 18-inch alloy wheels, leather seating surfaces with 12-way power adjustable front seats, auto-dimming mirror, bi-xenon headlights with LED technology and adaptive front lighting system, dual zone electronic climate control, digital compass, keyless access with start/stop button, leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel with DSG paddle shifts, sport seats, sport suspension, ski bag and rain sensor wipers.

Optional on the test vehicle was the $2,925 Technology Package, featuring a touch-screen navigation system, Dynaudio 600-watt digital sound system with 10 speakers and Sirius satellite radio.

Safety wise, the Eos is well outfitted with standard front, side curtain and side thorax airbags, electronic stability control, traction control and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution and hill hold assist.

Fit and finish is excellent and the beige leather interior in the test vehicle had a decidedly upscale look and feel.

Legroom in the back seat is tight, but this is a convertible where you can actually seat a couple of live bodies in the rear quarters. The front seats are comfortable and adjust to any body size.

With the top up on the highway the Eos is surprisingly quiet with few shakes and rattles that sometimes accompany hardtop convertibles.

Top down, minor cowl shake is evident on bumpy roads but not so that it is alarming or irritating. A wind blocker is available to help keep passengers from being buffeted around when driving topless.

The Eos is more of a touring car than a sports car, but it does have enough power to keep the driver engaged on those enticing back road twisties.

This is a car that you can live with all year round, it doesn’t have to be stored away in winter.

Think of it as a convertible for all seasons.

Volkswagen Eos 2012

Body Style: two-door retractable hardtop convertible.

Drive Method: front-engine, front-wheel drive.

Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder in-line turbocharged engine with intercooler and direct injection (200 hp, 207 lb/ft of torque) with six-speed direct shift gearbox (DSG) with Tiptronic paddle shifters.

Fuel Economy: 9.5L/100 km city, 6.7L/100 km highway.

Cargo Capacity: top up 297 litres, top down 186 litres.

Price: Comfortline $39,075; Highline $45,775.

Website: www.vw.ca

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