You can look at the VW Eos from two diametrically opposed viewpoints. The first – favorable to VW – is that the Eos is a steal of deal compared with a BMW 3 coupe. Both are spiffy European-brand sport coupes with folding metal hardtops and all the bells and whistles – but the BMW starts at $47,600 while you can buy a new Eos for $35,195. Even a top-of-the-line Eos Executive, at $41,695, doesn’t come close to the BMW 3 coupe’s base price – yet both cars are similarly laid out and deliver a comparable open roof – or not – driving experience.
On the other hand, the Eos is old. It was introduced in 2007 – and hasn’t changed much since then.
The 2014 is “new” in model year only.
It’s also not been a strong seller for VW – and may be discontinued. Or profoundly changed next year (or the year after that). And that, in turn, could gimp resale values of the current model.
The Eos was launched at a time when Volkswagen was trying to reposition itself as an upscale brand more or less in the same league with cars from Audi, BMW and Volvo.
But the problem with that concept is that a VW isn’t a BMW – and convincing enough people to shell out BMW money for a VW has proved to be tough.
Still, there’s a lot to like about the Eos – if you can get around the status issue. There aren’t many retractable hardtop coupes out there – and virtually none that are both German-made and which can be bought for about $35k – if you go easy on the options.
WHAT IT IS
The Eos is a mid-sized, four-seater retractable hardtop coupe.
Base price is $35,195 for the Komfort trim; a top-of-the-line Executive has a sticker price of $41,695
All trims are are FWD and feature VW’s turbocharged 2.0 liter engine with six-speed automated manual (DSG) transmission.
The Lux trim has been dropped, simplifying the lineup.
The formerly available six-speed manual transmission has also been dropped. All ’14 Eos trims come standard with VW’s DSG automated manual.
Retractable hardtop looks and feels more solid than a fabric top and provides more protection from the weather – and thieves – than soft-topped competitors.
Luxury-car finish,materials and attention to details.
Costs $12,405 less to start than a BMW 3 retractable hardtop coupe; about $6k less to start than a Volvo C70 retractable hardtop ($41,200)
WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD
Formerly available 250 hp 3.2 liter V-6 no longer is.
Ditto the manual transmission.
Retractable hardtop hardware eats up the already-small trunk.
BMW/Audi price tag – VW key fob.
UNDER THE HOOD
The ’14 Eos comes standard with VW’s 2.0 liter turbocharged and intercooled four rated at 200 hp.
The formerly available 3.2 liter V-6 has been disappeared.
So has the formerly available six-speed manual transmission. All versions now come standard with VW’s dual-clutch (DSG) six-speed automatic.
0-60 takes about 7.4 seconds..
Gas mileage is 22 city/30 highway – which is slightly better than the BMW 328i retractable hardtop coupe, which comes standard with a 3.0 liter in-line six that rates 18 city, 28 highway. The BMW 3’s engine is stronger, though – 230 hp – and it gets to car to 60 sooner (just under 7 seconds).
Volvo’s C70, though, is probably the more direct – and thus, fair – comparison when it comes to drivetrain layout, because it’s FWD like the EOS and not RWD like the BMW.
It comes standard with a 2.5 liter in-line five and 227 hp. Being a bit larger – and several hundred pounds heavier (3,837 lbs. vs. 3,508 lbs. for the Eos) it is also considerably slower. The C70, despite its premium car price tag, delivers an economy car 0-60 run in the low 8 second range. This can be remedied somewhat by opting for the available Inscription Package, which includes a 250 hp version of the Volvo five – but even then, the Eos is still quicker. And the Volvo’s a lot more expensive.
It’s also thirstier: 19 city, 28 highway.
VW recommends premium unleaded to get the most performance (and mileage) out of the 2.0 liter engine, but doesn’t require it, so it’s ok to use regular if you want to save a few bucks and don’t really care if your engine is making max power at all times.
The Eos has the heart of a GTI but lags a few steps behind in the 0-60 race because of its greater curb weight, courtesy of the retractable hardtop.
Still, the car’s not slow.
No signs of strain accelerating from a stoplight or merging with traffic. It is a pleasant driver, with the turbo’d two providing good low-end torque in stop-and-go driving and also high-speed power when you punch it.
The issue for the Eos will be the inevitable comparisons with the power/performance of cars in its price range like the $36,900 BMW 128i convertible. Granted it’s a soft-top. But it comes standard with a 230 hp six-cylinder engine that delivers 0-60 in a more price-appropriate 6.7 seconds.
Or – wild card – how about the Chrysler 200 convertible? It can be ordered with a 283 hp 3.6 liter V-6 and you can get this car – loaded – for about $33k.
The Eos is caught in quandary. It’s not really a sporty car – it’s too heavy and it’s not packing enough heat under the hood. But many buyers are going to make comparisons with similarly priced – and sportier/better-performing – models like the BMW 1. On the other hand, Leisure World cruisers like the new Chrysler 200 deliver comparable sunny Sunday afternoon driving enjoyment – at a much lower (to start especially) ) MSRP. Meanwhile, the Volvo C70 delivers a similar retractable hardtop experience, more interior space – and upmarket brand status – for not all that much more money than you’d pay for an optioned-out Eos.
If the Eos could be ordered with something along the lines of the 256 hp version of the 2.0 liter engine that’s standard in the current Golf R, then it would sporty enough to face down the BMW1, clean the Volvo’s clock and – perhaps more to the point – its pushing $40k price tag would go down a lot easier.
This is just my humble opinion, but I think 200 hp is too close to economy car hp. It invites comparisons VW probably would probably like to avoid.
Whether people actually use the power is largely irrelevant. It’s a question of feeling good about what you just spent a wad of cash on. And people who spend $35-$40k on a car want to know they can outrun people who spend $22k on their cars – even if they never actually do it.
I also mourn the loss of the formerly available six-speed manual. The now-mandatory DSG is a technological marvel and does its job superbly. But it is less fun. And isn’t a car like this about having fun?
A big problem for the Eos is its curb appeal – its attention-getting ability.
It doesn’t have much.
As with the Engine Issue, people who spend this kind of money generally want something more than run-of-the-mill. They want to be noticed. Or more precisely, they want people to notice what they’re they’re driving. But the Eos is a wallflower. With its almost seamless retractable hardtop in place, it easily fades into the crowd. When the similarly Shy Guy Pontiac G6 retractable hardtop was still around, VW had the edge as a nicer-than-Pontiac alternative. But given what you can get for $35k today – for a lot less than that, if you are ok with a soft-top rather than a retractable hardtop (see, for example, the spiffy little Mini Cooper convertible – just $25,150 – or how about a new Camaro or Mustang convertible? The Fiat 500 ragtop? Etc.) the Eos doesn’t really have anything obviously spectacular to counter with.
And it ought to.
Yes, the retractable hardtop is neat – especially the fact that it also has a power sunroof built in that you can use to let in some sun and breeze when you don’t feel like dropping the entire top. But what else is there? Take the retractable hardtop out of the equation and what are you left with that justifies spending $35-$41k?
And when you do drop the top, the trunk goes away. Literally. Small to begin with (10.5 cubic feet with the hardtop up) it shrinks to 5.4 cubic feet when the top is folded.
The Chrysler 200, meanwhile, has a 13.1 cubic foot trunk; the BMW has 9 cubic feet. The C70 slots into the middle with 12.8 cubic feet of cargo capacity. None of these have huge trunks, but they are at least cargo-viable.
On the upside, the Eos does have usable back seats – a feature that many (cough) “two-plus-two” convertible coupes like the Camaro and Mustang don’t have.
Second row legroom is decent: 32.5 inches vs. 31.9 for the BMW 3 retractable hardtop. Interestingly, the significantly larger (on the outside) C70 is only slightly roomier inside, with 33.9 inches of second row legroom.
But the Chrysler 200’s 33.5 inches in back is a counterpoint against the Eos.
The materials used and detail items in the Eos are – and should be – noticeably nicer than in other, lesser-priced VW models like the new Jetta, which VW recently redesigned to be less expensive than it used to be – in order to make the car more competitive – a tacit recognition that previously, it wasn’t. Or at least, was less competitive than it needed to be for VW to make adequate money off the deal, anyhow.
I suspect that when the Eos is redesigned – if it’s redesigned – it’ll either be Jetta-ized (i.e., made more price-competitive with stuff in the under-$30k class) or its content – under the hood, especially – will be brought up to spec with the current par for cars with sticker prices in the $35-$40k range.
I think, personally, that the car lacks focus – not goodness. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it. It’s just that there’s not enough to excite people about it. This could be done in either of two ways.
One, offer more performance – and “fun to drive.” Put an optional higher hp engine back in the lineup and make it available with a manual transmission. People love the Golf R. How about that concept with a retractable hardtop?
Two, make it affordable – and sell more of them.
I enjoyed driving the Eos. But would I pay what they’re asking? Uh, no. But if this car cost say $28k rather than $35 to start, I’d bet a lot more people would be interested. VW would have the only affordable retractable hardtop in town. It would be directly competitive with all those soft-tops in the $30k (and less) price bracket – rather than be trying to compete with status-brand retractable hardtops in the pushing (and exceeding) $40k price bracket.
Put simply, it would be a value. A deal.
VW might not make money on each sale – but the halo effect might be worth it. Chevrolet reportedly makes no money selling Corvettes. But Corvettes help Chevy sell a lot of Malibus and Impalas.
Odds and ends: As in most German cars, the Eos has top-drawer seat heaters that can actually get hot as opposed to tepid. You will appreciate this when your back’s sore – or the weather’s cold outside.
The top drops at the touch of a button; well, the pull of a handle located on the center console, just below the armrest. The same pull handle also slides and opens the integrated sunroof.
The paintwork is beautiful – including the door jambs and trunk underside. I continue to be shocked by the number of not-inexpensive cars that cheap out on this – that have no clear-coat on the not-immediately visible areas, such as the underside of the trunk and hood and even the door jambs. It looks like scheisse – all to save probably no more than $20 per car during manufacturing.
To its credit, VW does not cheap out on the paint.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you’re careful about the options – and haggle yourself down from the MSRP – the Eos can be a good buy relative to a 328i or C70.
I just wish it were a better one.
Throw it in the Woods?
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I’ve always had convertibles since my first car, a 1968 Pontiac LeMans with a 350 big block and three on the floor. I now have a 2005 Sebring and I’ve been surprised by how reliable it is. I’ve got 180K on the odometer and it’s just as tight and powerful as the day I bought it. “Tight” being relative to a convertible.
I was thinking about buying a replacement (Beetle diesel convertible was top on the list), but since the Sebrings have had mechanical problems, now I just want to see how far I can run this one until it fails, and to learn what will go first.
I like the Sebring, too. The reason the automotive press – in general – panned it is because (in general) the automotive press thinks every car should imitate a BMW 3 in terms of handling and so on.
But that’s not what a car like the Sebring’s about. For what it is – and what you pay to get into one – it’s by no means a bad choice.
On the Beetle: The new one is much roomier than the previous version, though the back seats are still iffy for other-than-teenagers.
For a true four-seat convertible (adult friendly in both rows) at a not-obnoxious price, I’d steer you in the direction of the current 200. Just over $27k, sticker. That’s a deal that’s hard to beat.
Beware of body flex in convertibles and the associated cowl shake that occurs on bumpy or uneven pavement. The lack of a solid top presents unique body and chassis design challenges. Some car companies address those challenges better than others.
I don’t know about the current crop, but in 2003 when we we’re looking for a convertible, BMW convertibles had an appropriately rigid chassis. Unfortunately, they had a tiny trunk.
We aligned our choice with intended use, touring, and purchased a 2003 Chrysler Sebring with the 2.7 L V-6 in touring trim for $26K. It has a large trunk and comfortable seating for 4. It does NOT have a rigid enough chassis and that V-6 has been plagued with failure due to lubrication problems. We’ve always used synthetic oil, which reportedly mitigates the lube problems.
So far we’ve been lucky with the Chrysler, although the dealer has failed to fix the airbag system after 6 visits. It continues to meet our touring needs (comfortable ride, comfortable seating, large trunk).
Unless you’re willing to spend a LOT, choosing a convertible involves the art & science of compromise. Our case is a good example: I don’t recommend our choice but it meets our requirements better than anything else that was available at the time.
Bimmers and hiney wagons are just “cars” in Germany. I went to Germany in 98 on business. So are mercs over there, just another car. Makes me wonder why Yanks and Aussies go ga-ga over euro cars. And VWs here cost so much to repair and have developed a reputation for unreliability. Sort of like jags. This Eos sounds so “ordinary”.
Locally made cars are usually the best buy for your $s. Parts are inexpensive and readily available compared to foreign cars.
For $35K you could buy a really nice Charger that leaves this car looking so overpriced, slow, and tight on interior space.
German cars in USA are the well optioned, loaded up luxury versions. The reason the ‘grey market’ was destroyed by the federal government was at the behest of Mercedes Benz and probably a few hangers on that didn’t like it that some people figured out they could import the everyday versions from Germany and then sell them in the USA at profit.
Because the cars were up marketed so much it made an opening for the lesser versions that only discerning eye would know the difference when seen in traffic. Someone could put on a show. This was of course unacceptable to a corporation and thus government was employed to stop the practice.
In the process americans were fire walled off from interesting cars they would have imported simply because they wanted them and could not buy them in the USA. Only after 25 years could such a car be imported.
Talk about marked up. I owned an auto repair shop in New Orleans near the riverfront. Every couple of months a couple of men would walk into my shop, stating they saw the Mercedes emblem on my building, and ask if I could get parts for Mercedes cars. After stating that I could, I asked what version of the cars they had. All were gray market. They were sailors on foreign vessels in port and told me it was cheaper for them to buy the parts in the US and ship them (smuggle?) them back.
I had a great little thing going until our loving uncle Sam stuck it to the market.
It’s part and parcel of consumerist-status-minded America.
But, I think VW could get something going by undercutting rival German (and Japanese) brands on price rather than trying to compete with them directly.
I do not have any appreciation for topless or top down motoring. Granted, a hardtop convertible allows you to eliminate the smog, heat, cold, wind and lack of privacy and security that are all part of the topless package. But if you never……. ever…… want to drive topless, why not skip the cost, weight and mechanical complexity of that retractable hardtop??
I can see only one upside to buying an EOS or Volvo C70. If you hold on to them for a decade or so, their relatively good looks and rareness should give them real potential as “collector” cars.
Topless is best, but she complains it chafes her nips… 😉
I looked semi hard at earlier versions of this car until I decided my next car wasn’t going to be that expensive. But with the lack of a manual and a 4 cylinder engine, I’m not even going to look again.
I doubt this car would have enough torque for my taste.
Side note: had my car in the shop few days back and there was a delay in getting it back to me. No one could be found that knew how to drive a stick. WTF?
On the bright side – a manual is less likely to be stolen!