I've always found the Volkswagen Eos a fun, satisfying four-seat convertible. The key selling point for the Eos is that it's one of the few retractable hardtop convertibles around -- and after the Mazda MX-5 Miata PRHT, the Eos is the second-cheapest folding hardtop you can buy. The new model year brings with it a redesigned face, revised interior, LED taillights, and miscellaneous other tweaks. I think it looks good and continues to drive very nicely, featuring the same fantastic 200-hp 2.0T engine and six-speed DSG transmission found in the Volkswagen GTI.
Lowering the top takes a considerable amount of time -- Volkswagen says 25 seconds -- but at least there's a mechanical ballet to watch while you're waiting. The roof lifts up, the trunk folds outward, tiny hatches on the car's shoulders flip up, and the roof settles into the trunk with a heavy thunk. As Volkswagen is happy to remind us, the Eos is the only hardtop convertible with an integrated sunroof that tilts and slides. That means you get a fully glass roof when the top is up, can open the sunroof to have a targa-style mini roof opening, or can fully retract the top for open-air motoring. So many choices!
Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor
Yep, it's a great powertrain, this 2.0-liter four and six-speed DSG automatic gearbox, but the Eos has a hard time putting the power down to the front wheels. It's pretty much impossible to accelerate hard away from an intersection without squealing the front tires and calling attention to yourself. Once you've launched, though, acceleration is crisp, fast, and satisfying. Nice brake pedal modulation, decent steering feel.
The open-roof experience is also good. Even when the top is up, you're surrounded by a lot of glass thanks to the big windshield and side windows and the integrated glass moonroof, which is quite a clever device. When the top is down, there's a pretty large cargo space under the trunk divider that separates the cargo area from the roof storage area, but to access all that space, the top has to be up. I retrieved two friends at the airport, curbside. We had to put the top up to clear the trunk, lift the divider, put their big suitcase in, re-secure the divider (if it doesn't engage its sensors, the roof won't operate), and then put the top back down. When I dropped them off, we had to put the top up, retrieve the luggage, then put the top back down. Oh, well; it's fun to watch it operate.
The Eos rides pretty well over rough pavement, with minimal body flexing, the bugaboo of convertibles that don't have enough body reinforcements built in to compensate for the lack of structural rigidity caused by the absence of a roof. The stereo has good sound quality even when the roof is down. As others have noted, this is one of the few hardtop convertibles that manages to look good whether the top is up or down.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
The Eos is quite peppy once the turbocharger spools up, though the turbo lag gives the car a bit of hesitation off the line. Thankfully, it maintains the solid and crisp driving experience of other Volkswagens, making the little drop-top fun to drive. It's too bad, however, that the highway ride is fairly loud with the top up, with wind noise coming from around the point where the A-pillar meets the roof. Blame the small bars that connect the actual roof assembly to the windscreen -- those are necessary to have the trick moonroof. Top up or top down, the Eos looks great -- the revised taillights most of all -- and neighbors won't be able to tell if it's a convertible until you have the top stowed thanks to the clean design.
Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor
It's not a GTI, but the 2012 Volkswagen Eos is every bit as good as the Golf. That may not be a surprise given that the Eos is built on the Golf platform, but it was an absolute revelation to me. For the past five years, I had pretty much ignored the Eos. Hardtop, four-seat convertibles aren't really my thing.
But if you worship the sun, buy an Eos. It is comfortable, surprisingly fun, and far more substantial than the Chrysler 200 convertible. Compared to the clumsy ride of the 200, the Eos is supple without being soggy and the body motions are perfectly controlled. The Volkswagen also conveys a sense of solidity and rigidity that's absent in the Chrysler. The 200-hp turbo four-cylinder is lively without overwhelming the chassis (which can't be said for Chrysler's 283-hp V-6) and while the dual-clutch gearbox can be a bit timid off the line, once the clutch is hooked up in first it will snap off seamless, bullet-quick shifts on your way to sixth gear. For those days when it's too hot or too wet or too cold to lower the roof, the massive sunroof provides light or fresh air without fully exposing you to the elements. In all, the Eos is a traditional Volkswagen execution of a niche segment. The Eos combines conservative design, a tasteful interior, and excellent dynamics, with drop-top charm.
Eric Tingwall, Assistant Editor
The Eos may have the same powertrain -- 200-hp 2.0-liter turbo four and six-speed DSG -- as the vaunted GTI, but you won't be mistaking this car for a GTI from behind the wheel. That's because the Eos carries an extra 500 pounds of curb weight, thanks to its power folding hard top and, no doubt, to the extra structural elements that all convertibles require to fight body flex. Still, while it doesn't have the dynamic performance of the GTI, the engine and transmission are well matched.
What the Eos is really about, however, is lowering the top (a simple operation that can be accomplished with one push on the button) and exposing yourself to the elements. You can also take three friends along for the ride, as this car has a back seat that might not be described as roomy but is perfectly adequate for adults, at least for short stints.
Cargo space in the trunk isn't particularly spacious with the top down (6.6 cu ft), but there is a room for a smallish suitcase or a few bags of groceries back there. A word of warning, the trunk lid itself is quite heavy -- it took a bit of a heave with both my arms to get it to close (yes, I am a weakling). If you have the top down and need to carry something a little more bulky, you can also use the back seat for storage space: a golf club bag and a pull cart fit just fine back there.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
I used to think hardtop convertibles were a great idea. With the top up, you have a bit more security than a soft top and when the top is down you get the same open-air experience as any other convertible. But these fancy tops cost a lot in terms of dollars added to the sticker price and cargo capacity devoted to stowing the top. Now I see hardtop convertibles as more of a technological showcase than great idea. I prefer my convertibles with soft tops that afford a smidge more room for luggage. And roadsters are even better than four-seaters in my book.
If you happen to favor folding hardtops more than I do, the Eos is an excellent choice. It's got a nice interior, a fantastic engine, and a superb DSG transmission. I really enjoy the lack of B-pillars when the top is up, as it makes for excellent visibility out the side windows. The Eos offers a reasonably affordable, yet stylish, way to enjoy the world of open-air motoring for more than two adults.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor
The Volkswagen Eos is a lovely package for those who want a convertible that seats four. Dropping the top couldn't be easier. And as is the case with many modern hardtop convertibles, it's quite a show, with panels sliding and flipping this way and that. Because it has a built in sunroof, the Eos's action is even more interesting as the roof rails above the side windows detach and slide backwards. Very cool. My only complaint is that I didn't get to see it from outside the car.
With the top up, this particular car feels surprisingly airy partly due to the light materials lining the interior. The lack of B-pillars also helps minimize the claustrophobia that often occurs in closed convertibles, as does the aforementioned sunroof. The view out the back is less ideal due to the slot-like rear window and the large, fixed rear headrests. If this were my car, I'd probably remove them when I didn't have back seat passengers. A fold-down function would be a nice addition.
Driving the Eos is not particularly exciting. The brake pedal has almost no feel and it tends to be a bit grabby. The steering is nicely weighted but also could use a bit more feel. Although the Eos isn't fast, it's quick off the line although the throttle calibration makes it difficult to pull away from a stop without squealing tires.
Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms